Plight of the Baha’i Subject of Film, Discussion

In Iran, members of the Baha'i faith have withstood government persecution for more than a century. That persecution has spread into the world of academia, with young Baha'is being denied access to higher education.

The struggles of the Baha’i and the right to education is the subject of a film screening and panel discussion on Wednesday, February 29 at 7 pm in Kendade 305. The screening and discussion are free and open to the public.

Education under Fire is a 30-minute documentary about the informal Baha´i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which was formed in 1987 to give young Baha´is their only chance for a university-level education. Despite repeated raids and arrests, volunteer teachers and administrators created an independent, decentralized university system that has provided new opportunities for thousands of Baha´i students across Iran. The film profiles the growth, struggle, and spirit of the BIHE.

Following the film, MHC faculty members will discuss the broader issue of the right to education and ways MHC might provide Baha’is with access to educational opportunities. An alumna of BIHE, who attended the program for two years before a raid compelled her to travel to the United States, will also be available to answer audience questions.

“We want to get the MHC community thinking about the effort some people make to learn,” said co-organizer Holly Hanson, professor of history. “We want to start a conversation about the ways we can help people who don’t or can’t have access to education, but who want it.”

The panel includes Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations on the Alumnae Foundation; Richard Payne, assistant professor of history; Bernadine Mellis, Five College visiting assistant professor of film studies; and Hanson.