The Iranian government is one step closer to eradicating discrimination against those deprived of higher education, but a cloud of uncertainty still hovers over the fate of Bahais.
Iranian students study as they wait for a bus in central Tehran, Jan. 16, 2016.
The government of President Hassan Rouhani has approved a bill on the right to further education and tabled it to the Iranian parliament. According to the Reformist daily Etemad, if ratified, the bill could decide the fate of so-called “starred students.” The term refers to university students barred from pursuing degrees for allegedly engaging in political activities deemed illegal and against national security. These activities could range from posting on social media to attending protests and leading student unions. Once marked as starred, these students are officially denied the right to move up the educational ladder despite having passed highly competitive entrance exams.
The widespread use of the practice brought the issue to greater light during the past two presidential elections in Iran, where candidates from both conservative and Reformist camps tried to appease the public by criticizing the policy.
Historian and university professor Gholamreza Zarifian described the practice as an oppressive measure that “after implementation turned into a political and social issue.”
Now, based on what has been approved by the Rouhani Cabinet, no one should be deprived of continuing education for reasons other than “lacking educational qualifications.” There are exceptions — namely with reference to “those convicted of organized crime, human trafficking, waging war against God and espionage.”
“If passed, the bill will fully consolidate the basic right to education as enshrined in chapter 3 of the constitution,” Rouhani’s deputy for legal affairs Laya Joneidi told Etemad.
The official Iran daily hailed the Cabinet decision as a crucial step toward eliminating educational discrimination, “a policy pursued by the administration of prudence and moderation” — the slogan of Rouhani’s government.
Interviewed by the same paper, Shahindokht Molaverdi — who serves as Rouhani’s special assistant for citizenship rights — also welcomed the step, saying, “With the new measure, no student will be deprived of education.”
But the key implication of the bill could be seen in the potential impact on Bahais, a faith that is outlawed by the Islamic Republic and whose followers are subjected to severe persecution. For decades, members of the Bahai community who openly endorse the faith have been denied higher education. That has, in consequence, forced a large number of them to seek education abroad.
Outspoken Reformist parliament member Mahmoud Sadeghi, a lawyer himself, was quick to react to the Cabinet measure. “Seemingly good news but bad news in reality,” he tweeted. Sadeghi added, “It is an unprofessional amendment, which turns the law against itself. Depriving people of the right to education on the basis of charges even for serious offenses violates the constitution.”
Sadeghi was notably challenged by one user, who tweeted, “How about Bahais whose right to continue education was denied by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution 28 years ago?”
“This is also in breach of the right to education and is against the constitution,” Sadeghi replied.
The Rouhani Cabinet measure has yet to be ratified by the parliament and the conservative supervising body, the Guardian Council. Even if it overcomes the two hurdles, the original proposal has left out the fate of Bahais and has made no effort to abolish the old law approved by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, offering little promise for Bahais who have long complained of educational oppression among other forms of discrimination.
A 2008 protest by ver.di Jugend in Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Wikipedia commons.
A German youth organization affiliated with the country’s second largest trade union has disavowed the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, as well as an anti-Zionist group that endorses a “one state” solution.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, ver.di Jugend announced that it passed a motion at its annual conference to reject BDS and FOR-Palestine, a group that advocates for a Palestinian-majority state in lieu of Israel and strongly opposes Zionism — the movement that supports the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3 (The Israel Bible™)
One year following the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, leaders from the White House Faith Initiative, along with Evangelical and Latin American leaders, gathered in Israel’s Knesset to promote dialogue and foster relations between Christians and Jews, as well as the United States, Latin America and Israel.
“I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12:3 (The Israel Bible™)
An ICEJ delegation visited Israeli communities along the Gaza border and viewed a new specially designed ATV security vehicle donated through the ICEJ to a local moshav. Credit: ICEJ.
After Israel absorbed as many as 700 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the weekend, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) sent a delegation to the western Negev region on Monday to assess the updated security needs of local Israeli communities and how best to help them prepare for any future escalations.
A replica of the golden menorah in front of Titus’ Arch in Rome. (Courtesy)
“He said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a menorah all of gold, with a bowl above it. The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes;” Zechariah 4:2 (The Israel Bible™)
A small group of Christians’ remarkable act of faith has ambitious aspirations: to fix the theft of the golden menorah from the Temple by Titus in 70 CE. In addition, they are seeking to return some of the Divine love that has sustained Germany despite the horrific crimes perpetrated on the Jews in the Holocaust.
U.S. Jews are more likely than Christians to say that U.S. President Donald Trump favors Israelis more than the Palestinians, according to a Pew Research poll released on Monday.
Some 42 percent of American Jews say Trump is favoring Israelis more than the Palestinians, while 47 percent of them say he has been striking the right balance between the two.
Apr 30, 2019 0Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was accused of launching a long-range rocket from northern Gaza at Israel on Monday evening, in an attempt at provoking a heavy response from the Israel Defense...
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.