[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]
[Adapted from website:] Mohsen Kadivar Official Website
[Date:] 7 Mehr 1392 [29 September 2013]
The Illegitimacy of Depriving Baha’i Students and [Political] Critics of Their Education
Questions and Answers / Constitutional Rights / Public Law and Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists / Illegitimacy of Depriving Baha’i Students and [Political] Critics of Their Education
Question: You know that some Iranian students are deprived of the right to education. Clearly, Baha’is and those critical political activists are barred from continuing their education. Entry to higher education, in addition to the requirements related to their academic qualifications, requires the approval of security officials. Is there any religious basis for depriving a student of the right to study under the pretext of having a different religion and belief, or of being a critical political activist? Is there a verse, narrative tradition or religious decree in this regard that allows the officials of the Islamic Republic to restrict the education for those whom they consider undesirable? If Islam allows the government to act like this, do you think such a religion is fair? Is not the silence of the marja’-i-taqlid [religious jurisprudence authorities], due to this being a religious matter, and giving it legitimacy, for the purpose of depriving the mentioned students of the right to education?
Answer: Education, being primary, secondary and tertiary, as well as higher education, is the right of every human being, and no one can be deprived of education because of having a different religion or belief or critical political activities. Deprivation of education is a punishment that only a competent court has the power to impose; the imposition of such a punishment requires law. A law that deprives a person of education, because his or her particular religion or belief or political activity is different, is cruel, immoral, and illegal. Depriving students of education because of religious, ideological or political activity is devoid of any religious legality. No verse of the Quran, no authentic narration of the Prophet and Imams, no consensus, no independent and non-independent rationale, has given such permission to the rulers. If the limited educational facilities in universities are an excuse to deprive some students of education, the academic priority is the only criterion of precedence.
The fact that only those who agree with the government have the opportunity for higher education not only is not religiously supported, but it is also against the religious laws. Higher education is not a privilege that the government can decide to grant to anyone, it is a right that [the government] is obliged to distribute and give fairly and impartially to those right holders who have academic qualifications. Depriving Baha’i students of their education does not have any religious basis. The invalidity of a religion in the eyes of the government is not the sole reason for deprivation of education. An atheist and an infidel cannot be deprived of education, let alone a monotheist. Political activity of the student, even if not allowed by the government, is not a legal reason for depriving him of education. The mentioned deprivations may have only one religious reason, and that is the absolute guardianship of the Islamic jurist. That is, the mentioned deprivations have been based on the government decree of the guardian jurist, or with his reference and discretion. In any case, he is legally responsible for the deprivations imposed on students. If the reason for the mentioned punishment is the absolute guardianship of the Islamic jurist, it should be said that the mentioned theory is the opinion of the minority of Shia jurists, and the majority do not believe in this theory. In the book of the ‘Hokoumat-e Velayeh [Government of the Guardian Jurist]’, I have proved that the Guardian Jurist does not have any valid religious basis.
5 Mehr 1392 [27 September 2013]