Iranian Yarsani kicked out of university because he won’t say he’s Muslim

Iranian Yarsani kicked out of university because he won’t say he’s Muslim

Siavash Hayati (Center for Human Rights in Iran)

An Iranian follower of the Yarsan faith has been prevented from completing his university dissertation because he refused to deny his religious beliefs.

Siavash Hayati told the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran that the dean at his university, in the western city of Kermanshah, said he could no longer study unless he wrote on his forms that he was Muslim.

Like the Baha’i Faith, Yarsanism is an unrecognised religion in Iran, so its followers have no constitutional right to education, unlike the adherents of the three recognised minority faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, whose right to education is protected, at least in principle.

But in reality the rights of even the recognised religious minorities are often violated, as was seen earlier this year when religious-minority teachers were banned from teaching at nursery schools other than those for minority children.

And while the rights of Christian children to education are protected in the constitution, this right does not extend to the children of converts to Christianity, as was seen when Yousef Nadarkhani’s youngest son was barred from school at the start of the new academic year because he refused to take Islamic classes.

Youeil Nadarkhani, 15, was told he could not return to school as he had not yet been certified to have completed the previous grade – because he did not complete his Islamic education. His older brother, Danial, 17, was later accepted as a “guest” to his school, but has not received a certificate showing his completion of an academic year since leaving 9th grade.

Yousef went on hunger strike for three weeks in protest, only ending the strike when he was given reassurances by the prison authorities that the matter would be looked into.

Earlier this year Iran’s Minister of Education said children who profess an unrecognised religious faith at school were engaging in “propaganda” and should be banned.

He seemed to partially retract the comments in a later Twitter post, saying “free and quality education is the right of all children” and paraphrasing Article 23 of the Constitution, which states that “no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief”.

However, he added that “illegal sects should not be promoted in school, which is a place for legal education”. This was a clear reference to unrecognised faiths such as the Baha’i faith and Evangelical Christianity, both of which have been regularly referred to as “sects” by Iranian officials including the Supreme Leader.