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Prominent Professors Denounce Restrictions on Freedom of Education in Iran

Posted on: 17th October, 2011
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HRANA News Agency – Forty three prominent professors around the world have issued a letter denouncing restrictions on freedom of education in Iran. For decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has denied Baha’i citizens the right to attend universities and has blocked any attempts by the Baha’i community to establish institutes of higher education for its members. As recently as two days ago, seven Baha’i professors and university officials connected with the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) were sentenced to a total of 30 years in prison.

Picture includes:

(Top row, left to right)

  • Cornel West, Princeton, U.S.A.
  • Graham Ward, Oxford, U.K.
  • harles Taylor, McGill, Canada
  • Leonardo Boff, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(Bottom row, left to right)

  • Ebrahim Moosa, Duke, U.S.A.
  • Hilary Putnam, Harvard, U.S.A.
  • Stanley Hauerwas, Duke, U.S.A.
  • Tahir Mahmood, former member, Law Commission, India

The full text of this letter and the list of signatories are as follows:

Dear Sir,
As philosophers, theologians, and scholars of religion, living throughout the world, we are raising our voices in protest against the recent attack by Iranian authorities on the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE).

As people of faith, we affirm that human beings are fundamentally spiritual in nature, created with the innate capacity to know God and investigate truth for themselves. To acquire knowledge and learning is the sacred and legal right of all; indeed, the state is obliged to provide it.  In Iran, the government has done the opposite. Among the numerous violations of the human rights of Bahá’ís, their access to higher education is systematically blocked for no other reason than their beliefs.  In order to cater to the needs of their youth, Iranian Bahá’ís developed the BIHE – their own, informal, community education initiative. On 22 May, 39 homes associated with the BIHE were raided. The Institute’s activities have since been declared “illegal.” Nine educators remain incarcerated.

Attacks such as these, against the rights of citizens to organize and be educated in freedom, can no longer be tolerated. We call upon the Iranian government not only to cease its persecution of Bahá’ís, but to provide, and promote, education for all.

Charles Taylor
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy
McGill University

Hilary Putnam
Cogan University Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Harvard University

Cornel West
Class of 1943 University Professor of African American Studies
Princeton University

Leonardo Boff
Professor Emeritus of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, and Ecology
Rio de Janeiro State University

Stanley Hauerwas
Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics
Duke University, North Carolina

Ebrahim Moosa
Professor of Religion and Islamic Studies
Duke University, North Carolina

Graham Ward
Regius Professor of Divinity
Oxford University

John Milbank
Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics
University of Nottingham

Rabbi David Novak
Professor of Philosophy
University of Toronto

Tahir Mahmood
Chairman, Amity University Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
New Delhi

Moshe Idel
Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Abdulkader Tayob
Professor of Islamic Studies
University of Cape Town

William Desmond
Full Professor of Philosophy
Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven

Xinjian Shang
Professor of Philosophy
Peking University

Kevin Hart
Edwin B Kyle Professor of Christian Studies
University of Virginia

Murray Rae
Professor of Theology
University of Otago

Asghar Ali Engineer
Head of Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
Mumbai

Remi Brague
Chair of the Study of Religion
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

A. Rashied Omar
Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peacebuilding
University of Notre Dame, Indiana

Joshua Cho
President and Professor of Christian Thought
Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary

Douglas Pratt
Professor of Religious Studies
Waikato University

Ashok Vohra
Professor of Philosophy
Delhi University

Carver Yu
President and Professor of Christian Thought
China Graduate School of Theology, Hong Kong

Laurie Zoloth
Professor of Medical Humanities and Bioethics
Northwestern University, Illinois

Pilgrim W.K. Lo
Professor of Systematic Theology
Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong

Philip Goodchild
Professor of Religion and Philosophy
University of Nottingham

Paul Morris
Professor of Religious Studies
Victoria University of Wellington

James E. Faulconer
Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding
Brigham Young University, Utah

Rod Benson
Ethicist and Public Theologian
Tinsley Institute, Morling College, New South Wales

Hassan Mwakimako
Senior Lecturer in Islamic Studies
Pwani University College, Kilifi

Yunus Dumbe
Lecturer in Islamic Studies
Islamic University College, Accra

Joseph Cohen
University Lecturer in Philosophy
University College, Dublin

Adam Miller
Professor of Philosophy
Collin College, Texas

Raphael Zagury-Orly
Head of the Master of Fine Arts Programme
Bezalel School of Design and Fine Arts, Jerusalem

Felix O Murchadha
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy
National University of Ireland Galway

Na’eem Jeenah
Associate Lecturer of Political Studies
University of the Witwatersrand

Kathleen Flake
Associate Professor of American Religious History
Vanderbilt Divinity School, Tennessee

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen
Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature
American Jewish University, California

Jeffrey Bloechel
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Boston College

William Hackett
Research Fellow and Lecturer in Philosophy
Australian Catholic University

Rabbi Akiba Lerner
Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies
Santa Clara University, California

Nathan Oman
Assistant Professor of Law
William and Mary School of Law, Virginia

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