[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM Persian]

 

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]

[Personal information has been redacted.]

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]

 

[Newspaper:] Panjereh - A weekly social, cultural and political publication of the University of Sistan and Baluchestan

[Date:] Sunday, 30 Ordibehesht 1386 [20 May 2007]

[Issue No.:] 15

 

Expulsion of University Students

A while ago, a number of the students of this university were unexpectedly expelled due to their religious beliefs.  Some say that the total number of them at the university was seven, but others say they were, in total, twenty students. There are no accurate statistics about the number of these students. We know that at least one of the students was in the first year and was studying the English language and was a very talented student.

The Islamic Republic has not recognized some religions since the beginning of the revolution. The main religions included in the constitution are those that the Quran has referred to, and of course the religion of Zoroaster, which is an Iranian religion. Although followers of these religions [minorities] cannot attain high positions, they can benefit from other civil rights, such as access to higher education. It is not stated in the constitution that other religions will be deprived of their civil rights.

However, Iran has reaffirmed its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Although this commitment was made before the revolution, Iran has continued its binding support of the Declaration’s contents, even since the revolution. One of the Articles of the Declaration is freedom of religion; no citizen with a different religion should be exposed to discrimination. It follows, therefore, that Iran’s treatment of religious minorities, especially religions which are not mentioned in the constitution, is a constant part of the objections of international human rights organizations.

Apparently, as a result of the discussions held with the human rights organizations, the Iranian authorities decided to allow the admission of the Baha’i students [to the universities] starting from the academic year 1385 [2006]. Evidently, there were other changes which had taken place in the previous years; namely, in the enrolment form, the “religion” option was changed to “To which religious commandments do you respond [comply with]?” Although this change does not constitute any difference for the Muslim applicants, who form the majority of the students, the applicants from the religious minorities were able to choose to answer “other religions” and still remain honest [regarding their religious affiliation], resulting in their admission to the university.

It is not known what caused the Ministry [of Education] authorities to retreat from their decision to allow the Baha’i students to study at university. Had the appropriate procedure, which was chosen in the previous year, been followed, it would have been more of a benefit to the national interest, and would have prevented some fellow citizens from feeling discriminated against.