Education is Not a Crime

PARISA FALLAH Education-Is-Not-a-Crime1Imagine your life if you hadn’t gone to UT. Now imagine your life if you hadn’t gone to any college—if high school was the end of the road. You made the highest grades, were involved in tons of extracurricular activities, and had a passion for life, but someone told you that it wasn’t enough. You were not allowed to go to university. Why? Because your religion automatically disqualified you from attending.

This is the reality for thousands of Baha’i students in Iran every day: though they rank at the top of their classes, are qualified beyond measure, and are ready to learn and contribute to the world around them, Baha’is in Iran are consistently denied the right to higher education.

The Baha’i Faith is an independent world religion that was founded less than 200 years ago. Baha’is believe in the unity of mankind, eventual establishment of world peace, elimination of prejudice, oneness of God, equality of men and women, harmony of science and religion, independent investigation of the truth, and universal education. They strive daily to positively influence the world through a life of service to those around them. Yet in Iran, the government constantly denies Baha’is their fundamental human rights. Some are put in prison, some are tortured, and some are even killed.

Because Baha’is in Iran cannot receive higher education from Iranian universities, the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) was created. This is an underground university of sorts, where people volunteer to teach Baha’i students out of their homes, through dedicated voice over IP software, and in any other location they are able to secure. Through BIHE, Baha’is can earn degrees ranging from neuroscience to history. Recently, several BIHE professors and students in Iran were arrested and imprisoned.

On March 2, 2015 at 7:15pm in the Student Union Theater (UNB 2.228), the Baha’i Association will be hosting a screening of the documentary “To Light a Candle” as part of the worldwide Education is Not a Crime campaign. The documentary was made by Maziar Bahari, the subject of Jon Stewart’s recent film, “Rosewater.” “To Light a Candle” features interviews with BIHE students and professors, as well as many others who risked their lives to speak out about the persecution of Baha’is and other minority groups in Iran. After the documentary screening, there will be a panel discussion and audience Q&A where you can learn more about this issue. The goal is to raise awareness about human rights conditions in Iran before it speaks at the United Nations in the near future. Please consider coming—not only to support this campaign, but also to learn about the educational obstacles that many young students face around the globe.

Education is a fundamental human right. When you deprive an individual of his or her education, you have not only attempted to stunt their intellectual growth, but you have also diminished the growth of society as a whole. You have taken away society's right to enjoy the amazing contributions of that individual's intellect.

Check out the UT Austin event, as well as the worldwide campaign: Facebook event: Other RSVP link: Twitter for UT Baha'i Association: Campaign Website: Trailer for Documentary:

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