Education Under Fire Event Scheduled for March 23

Posted on March 20th, 2012 by

Education Under Fire, a campaign sponsored by Amnesty International, will have representatives at Gustavus Adolphus College for an event at 7 p.m. Friday, March 23 in Alumni Hall.

Education Under Fire is traveling to colleges and universities throughout the nation to spread awareness about education and the oppression of the Bahá’í faith in Iran. Members of the Bahá’í faith – a faith based upon the fundamental belief that all of humanity is one family – are being banned from not only attending post-secondary accredited institutions, but are also being denied their individual rights to education themselves outside of accredited institutions.

The event on March 23 will involve a 30 minute screening of a documentary about the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which was created by the Bahá’í community of Tehran, Iran, to help students who were denied access to education solely because of their faith. Following the screening, the initiation of dialogue with the community will take place to share ideas and talk about how individuals can take social action on the issue.

Two speakers, Dr. Nadar Saiedi and Parva Fattahi, will be featured, and will speak about the denied educational rights of the Bahá’í faith in Iran.

Dr.Nadar Saiedi, born in Iran, has taught sociology at the University of Virginia, UCLA, Vanderbilt University, and Carleton College. His research interests include Bahá’í Studies, Social Theory, and Peace Studies.

Parva Fattahi, a Bahá’í woman, has experienced religious and sexual discrimination in Iran. These experiences taught her the value of impartial laws and international standards. She graduated with a degree in law from the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education in 2000 and is currently an attorney in Maryland and New York.

Gustavus senior Lindsey Lugsch-Tehle has helped to organize the event.

“Helping this important cause can be as simple as being present at the event and deciding to sign the online petition, “Drive to 25,” Lugsch-Tehle said. “Participants can also sign a letter co-authored by two Nobel laureates supporting the freedom of education for all people,”

Because of the support and volunteer efforts from college and university professors around the world, the BIHE has been operating in living rooms and kitchens throughout Tehran. Even without accreditation, graduate-level programs outside of Iran, such as UCLA and Columbia, have been accepting the course work that these oppressed, yet determined students have completed.

Despite these efforts, there is more work to be done. In May 2011, the Bahá’í’s in Iran faced yet another hurdle during their journey toward educational freedom. “Students and professors of the BIHE were forcibly removed from their homes and imprisoned. Their text books, computers, and other personal belongings were confiscated simply for being Bahá’í,” Lugsch-Tehle said.  “As members of a global community, it is our responsibility to ensure this right is respected. It is time to bring the unjust and oppressive practices of the government of the Islamic Republic to an end.”

The March 23 event is free and open to the public. Those looking for more information can find it online at


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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