The Closing of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education

ABOUT THE BAHÁ'Í INSTITUTE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

At the end of September 1998 the Iranian Government launched a coordinated attack to shut down the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education -- also known as the "Open University" -- by orchestrating the arrests of its most prominent professors and staff and looting more than 500 homes where the Institute's activities had been conducted.

Since 1980, as part of a Government-directed effort to destroy the 300,000-member Iranian Bahá'í community, Bahá'ís have been banned from studying or teaching at colleges and universities in Iran. In response to the ban, the Bahá'í community founded the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in 1987. The Institute had, until September 1998, an enrollment of more than 900 students, a faculty of more than 150 first-rate academics and instructors, and an "infrastructure" composed of various classrooms, laboratories and libraries scattered throughout Iran in private homes and buildings. Many of the professors, lecturers, and administrators were Bahá'í academics fired from university positions after the 1979 Iranian revolution. It offered Bachelor's degrees in ten subject areas: applied chemistry, biology, dental science, pharmacological science, civil engineering, computer science, psychology, law, literature and accounting.


Closing of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education


US Government Response

On October 29th 1998, the US State Department responded to a question on the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education. The White House previously issued a statement on October 2nd 1998 regarding the arrests of Bahá'í educators in Iran.


Media Coverage For a complete listing please visit the Press Release area.

IRAN'S OFFICIAL POLICY TO DESTROY A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY

A SECRET IRANIAN GOVERNMENT MEMORANDUM , personally endorsed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 1991 and published by the United Nations in 1993, established a subtle government policy aimed at essentially grinding the community into non-existence by forcing Bahá'í children to have a strong Islamic education, pushing Bahá'í adults into the economic periphery and forcing them from all positions of power or influence, and requiring that Bahá'í youth "be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahá'ís".

Closure of Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education is one of the means employed for strangulation of the Bahá'í community under this policy.

Quotations from "The Bahá'í Question" document:

  1. "The Government's dealings with them, the Bahá'ís, must be in such a way that their progress and development are blocked."
  2. "They must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahá'ís."
  3. "A plan must be devised to confront and destroy their cultural roots outside the country."
  4. "Deny them employment if they identify themselves as Bahá'ís."
  5. "Deny them any position of influence, such as in the educational sector, etc."


RIGHT TO EDUCATION: A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT

The exclusion of Bahá'ís from universities in Iran constitutes a violation of Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights of which Iran is a signatory.

Relevant excerpts from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights are available.


RECENT EXECUTION AND DEATH SENTENCES

On July 21, 1998 Iranian authorities executed by hanging Mr. Ruhollah Rowhani for allegedly converting a woman to the Bahá'í Faith, a charge that the woman refuted. At the end of September death sentences of two other Bahá'ís on charges of holding religious gatherings were officially confirmed.

Click HERE for more information about Mr. Rowhani's case, US Government responses, congressional testimony, press releases, and other documents.