Denial of Access to Higher Education Surges for Baha’i Citizens in Iran

Since the beginning of this year, HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, has documented 16 cases of Baha’i citizens being barred from higher education due to their faith.

As in previous years, many examinees of the nationwide university entrance exam encountered the message either “Rejected” or “Rejected due to general ineligibility”, indicating that they have been identified as Baha’i and hence barred from higher education.

According to HRANA, each year, numerous Baha’is examinees are rejected as the results of exams for various excuses by the official website of the National Organization of Educational Testing (NOET), an organization for holding the nationwide entrance exam.

Following the call of one of these citizens, NOET mentioned the intervention of the intelligence police as the reason for the rejection and in case an objection is filed, they can pass the written objection on to the intelligence police for further assessment.

In a written response to another citizen, NOET stated, “This message is shown when the intelligence office or any other security institution has an open case regarding the examinee or they have not approved his/her ineligibility. Your objection will be passed on the intelligence office, but until you identify yourself as Baha’i, the objection will not be taken into account.”

After taking exams many times, Some of these citizens are still facing various excuses such as “document defect” and therefore, they are barred from continuing their education due to being Baha’i.

At odds with Iran’s law clarifying the rights to education indiscriminately for all citizens, the enactment of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution of Iran, which oversees to ensure that education and culture remain Islamic, barres Baha’is from taking an occupational position as well as tertiary education.

Baha’i citizens are denied the right to exercise their religion. This systematic deprivation stands in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both affirm that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

According to unofficial reports, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran. While the constitution recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism as accepted religions (People of Book, as articulated in Sharia law), it denies recognizing Baha’i faith, which conclusively leads to the systematic violation of their rights.

The Directive of Executive Plan in the Complimentary Act of Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution with Respect to Veil

The committee of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution prepared an directive to promote veil, prevent and enforced activities-necessary to combat clothing which opposes the norms of the Islamic Republic and was submitted to every judicial, security, cultural, and educational organizations as a form of a plan and solution in July 2018. HRANA gained access to the updated draft of this 26-page directive. A brief summary of it is presented in this report and the full text of the directive is accessible at the end of this report.

According to Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA), the directive issued by the committee of Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution which includes executive strategies and planning was updated in July 2019. The aim of this directive is to impose a government-approved lifestyle to citizens and to prevent and reject all other unfavorable lifestyles.

The topics of “enforced dress code” in fashion production, cultural products, volunteer and law-enforcement organizations for “enjoining good and forbidding wrong”, education, wellbeing, employment, promoting actors, actresses, and athletes for advertisement, traffic, cyber space, nutrition, and many other personal issues are some of the topics in this 26-pages directive.

Publishing educational programs and textbooks to promote veil as the only valuable role model, supervision over girl schools, supervision on the production and importing toys are among the responsibilities of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Sciences must focus on segregating and separating women and men educational institutes, establishing women’s colleges, and must empower the security department of the universities to interfere and control the students.

According to this document, Ministry of Intelligence should use its research and executive teams to analyze and control inside Iran and monitor and confront foreign activities. Moreover, it should utilize its power to dominate recruitment for sensitive positions and monitor “unethical” activities of the embassies.

Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting are obliged to morally and financially support artists, writers, media products, fashion designers, clothes industry, publishers, and toys which promote veil and Islamic dress code. In the other part of this directive, the responsibilities of the armed forces such as police and Basij to enforce the Islamic dress code are explained. Another part of this directive is about conspicuous and inconspicuous supervision over citizens’ clothing in athletic environments, working spaces, and by Iranian Traffic Police.

The 26 pages document can be downloaded here.

A strict dress code has been enforced since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. Women are forbidden from exposing their hair, they must be covered in public from ankle to neck. In addition, wearing tight-fitting clothes that does not conceal the shape of body is forbidden and should be noted that men are not allowed to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.