If you know me you know that I value education more than just about anything. For most of us, education is available at the tip of a finger. It can be formal or not as the seeker chooses. It is largely free. There is no excuse for being ignorant.
Such is not the case everywhere. The people who don’t value education are ideologues. They are content in their beliefs, and education tends to upset that. They assault education by various guises by trying to label it as “liberal” or fantasy of one sort or another in some attempt to make it go away. So fearful are they that they ridicule it. Equality issues suffer from this onslaught and so do things like climate change.
A Facebook friend of mine alerted me to an instance of education suppression that is both appalling and telling. Telling because it so mimics what is going on in America today in certain conservative pockets in the country. That is, the attempt to rewrite history in some fashion that is deemed acceptable to a particular ideological mindset. In Texas and Kansas and Oklahoma, efforts go on to adjust American history to better suit the vision of the right-wing. This includes artificially creating a “Christian” framework to the foundation of this country, to downplaying America’s very real aggressions and misdeeds over the years.
Similarly Iran has tried to eliminate voices of education of “not the right sort” in its country.
One such voice is Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). The Bahá’í faith values education and achieved a 100% literacy rate among women in Iran by 1973.
In 1979, the new regime in Iran expelled all Bahá’í professors and students from their universities. There are only four religions accepted in Iran today, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. In 1987, BIHE was formed, teaching mostly through correspondence. It continues today online, albeit with a lot of care being taken avoid detection.
People who are members of the faith or involved in educational matters are subject to arrest as “spies” and purveyors of propaganda. The public, both professional and lay, has spoken out in dismay at this suppression of the right to be educated.
Today, graduates gain acceptance in graduate programs throughout the world, and in at least 30 universities within the US. This is testimony enough of the seriousness of the educational work being done “underground” in Iran.
This feels eerily like some of the rhetoric coming out of areas of the US today, where it now seems that one must be a Christian to be eligible to run for any government position, and one’s version of Christianity is now picked over and defined as good enough or not by some elements. The proof is in the right-wing belief in this country that our President is not “really a Christian” or not a good enough one to suit their evangelical proclivities.
The young people of Iran are in, as we all know, a repressive religion based regime, similar to the theocratic state that some want to erect in this country. In fact there have been articles in just the past day of the similarities in philosophy of the writers of a certain “open” letter to the Iranian regime, and the philosophy of that regime itself. Such is always the case when religion turns to its most extreme and “purifying” forms.
Those caught in the middle of course are all the sincere believers wherever they may be who are judged as blasphemers or apostates because they don’t align with the created principles of the dominant interpretation. Such are the Bahá’í faith adherents in general, and students who merely want an education, in particular.
If you want to help Bahá’í students, I urge you most sincerely to go to Education is not a crime. There you can find easy and effect ways to register your dismay and urge increasing pressure on the Iranian government to stop this absurd and ugly repression of education.
Join the Facebook Page.
Buy a t-shirt.
My deepest thanks to Darcy Lewis for bringing this to my attention. I had previously read a small bit about the faith and found it elegant, peaceful, and intellectually challenging. This is a good cause folks, and I hope you will take a few moments to offer assistance to the people of Iran in their struggle for what for you and I consider easy–to simply learn the truth.