Iran expels Baha’i woman from university because of her faith

Iran expels Baha'i woman Mona Houshmand from university because of her faith

A Baha’i woman was expelled and prevented from attending the Bojnord School of Architecture because of her faith.

Speaking to Iranwire, Mona Houshmand, a 2016 first year Baha’i student, said that she was asked by the student’s office to give personal information about her religious beliefs, a measure banned in Iran.

“I went to the security office,” Houshmand said, “and there were two people who first asked me personal information and then asked about my religion. I told them my religious beliefs are a private matter and also the law prohibits religious interrogation. They said they were with the Ministry of Information, and that they were allowed to interfere in the private matters of individuals. Then they said they knew we were Baha’is and that we are not allowed to study at university. I said my educational process had nothing to do with my religion, and that as an Iranian, based on the law, I have a right to higher education. But they said, ‘Based on the university entry exam’s regulations, you as an individual Baha’i do not have a right to take the entry exam to begin with.’ Then, they showed me part of the registration form for the entry exam in which it was written that participants in the university entrance exam must be Muslim or one of the nation’s official religious minorities: Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian.”

Houshmand was later asked to sign a specific form containing statements about separation from the Baha’i community in order to continue her studies. The form consisted of two sections, one in which the student accepts being Baha’i and another section that accepts disengagement from the Baha’i community.

Houshmand signed the first section of the form but refused to sign the second and was expelled from the university.

“I was given three days to change my mind and expelled later on,” Houshmand says.

University officials have said the expulsion letter is confidential and they cannot release it to the public.

In 2016, another Baha’i student, Nazanin Nikouseresht, was expelled from Shiraz University.

The Baha’i Faith was founded in 19th century Persia and is a monotheistic religion that emphasises the unity in diversity of all creations. The followers of the religion have faced intense persecution in Iran over the years. The Iranian government views the Baha’i Faith as a political organisation and not a religion.

In September 2016 Iranian authorities classified the student files of 129 Baha’is as “deficient” or “incomplete.”