Education Under Fire is a new documentary, co-presented by Amnesty International, that profiles the persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, and looks at the struggles and resilience of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education. The Education Under Fire campaign led to the creation of a powerful letter co-authored by Nobel Peace Prize laureates José Manuel Ramos-Horta and Desmond Tutu, which calls for the Iranian government to respect education opportunities and the human rights of Iran’s estimated 300,000 Baha’is, the nations largest religious minority.
For our readers in the United States, the documentary debuts tomorrow (October 28) at Columbia University, and will then be screened at campuses and Amnesty International events around the US.
Iran’s attack on Bahá’í educators has also struck a strong chord with me for a number of reasons.
The BIHE is an online university and it was established in 1987 for Bahá’ís in Iran. Bahá’ís in Iran have repeatedly been denied access to a higher education ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. A leaked confidential Iran memo in 2006 (from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology) exposes a government-level policy to deny Bahá’í students university education.
I’m a Bahá’í, and I’ve had the opportunity to go to university, graduate, and now specialise in adult education – but hey, I don’t live in Iran. To be honest, I never thought going to university was such a big deal. I just saw it as a natural continuation from my schooling years. My only source of stress during my university years was waiting to see if my marks were good enough to get into the course of my choice, as well as some of the last minute study cramming I used to do for my exams. In fact, my years at university were some of the best years of my life, so far! This is why I find it confusing and unthinkable that Bahá’í students in Iran are repeatedly denied the opportunity to pursue a further education, and even be arrested for trying! Continue reading →
It’s a wonderful, wild, world-wide web out there and nowhere is this more the case than with the social video site YouTube. It was here that – to my delight – I stumbled upon the work of two talented Canadian youth hidden amongst talking cats, dramatic hamsters and a baby monkey riding on a pig. Using YouTube, rap and a music video, these two youth from Ontario, Blair Cameron and Nadim Merrikh, have managed to come up with a quirky and wonderfully catchy way of telling the world about John Esslemont, one of the Baha’i Faith’s most respected scholars.
They decided to put the video together for a Ruhi study circle, but after posting it on YouTube the video has already racked up over six hundred views and counting. I caught up with Nadim to find out more about this bizarrely awesome project that he and Blair have put together. But before we get to the Q&A, here’s their YouTube video. Hit play and find out a little more about Baha’i Hand of the Cause, John Esslemont.
It’s always inspiring seeing what Baha’is around the world are doing in their local communities. This video from Bahai.us, documents the story of one of the rougher neighbourhoods in Savannah, Georgia near a Baha’i Unity Center. Local Baha’is set out to involve the community in activities, to serve the community and to create a real bond with the surrounding neighbours through their center.
For me the most inspiring part is the men’s study circle that some of the local residents form, calling themselves One of Us, and doing a huge variety of service projects including taking local kids to baseball games, visiting nursing homes and serving at a soup kitchen. Eventually One of Us starts a really awesome community event called Movies on the Wall where they screen movies on a giant wall in a nearby vacant lot. Continue reading →