T H E I R A N I A N T I M E S
Wednesday, October 7, 1998 / Mehr 15, 1377
TORONTO, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Iranian authorities are reported to have raided more than 500 Baha'i homes across the country, seizing television sets, furniture and other items of private property.
Gerald Filson, a spokesman for the Baha'i Community of Canada, said today the raids were carried out simultaneously with the arrest of 36 Baha'i academics in 14 Iranian cities last week.
Filson told United Press International the raids on the Baha'i homes were conducted by officials of the Information Ministry, which coordinates intelligence and security affairs in Iran.
He says members of the families in the homes raided were told the Iranian attorney general had authorized the officials ``to take away anything they wanted.''
Filson says it was not immediately clear why the raids were carried out, but he says the offcials appeared to be looking for books and other items used in educating Baha'i youths who are denied a formal education.
He says Iranian authorities do not permit Baha'i children to complete their final year of high school, to prevent them from qualifying for admission to universities in Iran.
Over the past six years, he says, Baha'i academics have been organizing secret classes for the children expelled from high school, and providing them with university level education if they qualified.
The academics set up the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education, which came to be called the Baha'i Open University. He says the 36 academics arrested last week were faculty members of the BIHE.
Filson says that in targeting the 500 homes, the Iranian officials appeared to be looking for secret locations where the classes were held.
He says all but seven of the 36 academics have since been released, but those set free were told the Baha'i Open University must close.