Another Baha’i Student Barred from Advancing Studies

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

In the latest wave of oppression against Baha’i students in Iran, Anahita Horr, an undergraduate at the School of Architecture at Rasam Institute of Higher Education in Karaj, has been expelled from her university and barred from continuing her education because she is a Baha’i.

Last month, Nikan Shaydansheidi, a Baha’i student majoring in Metallurgy at the University of Tehran, was similarly expelled from his university and banned from pursuing further education for refusing to denounce his faith.

According to the open letter published by Nikan’s sister Alhaan, “Nikan was summoned to the security office of the university after passing three semesters. [Nikan] was angrily confronted about why he had signed up, knowing he was a Baha’i from the first day. [The security officers] reminded him that there was no room for Baha’is there and that he had already been there for too long, and finally suggested that he could only stay there if he chose another religion.”

The source further explains that when Shaydanshidi refused to denounce his faith, the security office summoned his father, but the two were unable to gain ground in negotiations with university officials: “No matter how hard [they] tried—writing letters to the education office of the university and visiting the dean—the university wouldn’t give him the necessary credentials to take his final exams. In the end, he was expelled.”

Baha’i students in Iran have long been denied the right to higher education. They are frequently banned from registering for university altogether during the processing of their results on the nationally-competitive college entrance exam known as “Concours.” Those who do succeed in enrolling are often summarily expelled. According to Simin Fahandej, a representative of the Baha'i International Community's Office in Geneva to the United Nations, fifty Baha'i students have been expelled from Iranian universities in the current Iranian year (beginning March 21, 2018) because of their religious beliefs.

The systematic exclusion of Baha’is in Iran has been accelerated by a policy memorandum drafted in 1991 by the now Supreme Leader’s office. The policy blocks the development of the Baha’i community in many ways.

Based on unofficial sources, more than 300,000 Baha’is live in Iran. However, Iran's Constitution does not recognize the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that “no one may be mistreated or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief,” followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country.