You are hereSecond Thursday Social Justice Outreach Film Series
Second Thursday Social Justice Outreach Film Series
Second Thursday Social Justice Outreach FILM SERIES
June 14, 7:00pm, Fellowship Hall
“Education Under Fire”
Produced by Single Arrow Productions, and co-sponsored by Amnesty International, this documentary profiles the growth, struggle, and inspiring spirit of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran. Despite the fact that Iran is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which begins “Everyone has the right to education . . .,” it has not honored this Declaration. In 1987, after being barred by their government from Iranian universities because of their faith, the Baha’i organized the BIHE, a decentralized network of teachers delivering college-level classes in Baha’i homes across Iran. Taught by Baha’i professors and staff, also banned from their universities for their faith, they were joined by courageous Muslim academics, who risked their careers and imprisonment. BIHE students are accredited on an individual basis, and over 60 universities worldwide have accepted BIHE graduates.
The Baha’i faith is a peaceful religion with no political agenda. They believe there is one God, that all humanity is one family, and that there is a fundamental unity underlying all religions. However, in May 2012, the BIHE came under increased religious persecution and attack when Iranian officials raided thirty Baha’i homes, arresting over a dozen teachers who were neither political nor religious leaders but lecturers in a variety of subjects. In late July, seven BIHE faculty and staff were charged with “conspiracy against national security” and “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and were imprisoned.
The Baha’is are the only group to face pervasive class denial of this right to higher education. This denial is a tool wielded by the Iranian government, on an individual basis, against those whom the government perceives to have stepped out of line. The 300,000-member Baha’i community is the largest religious minority in Iran, three percent of the total population of nearly 75 million. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, more than 200 Baha’I’s have been executed or killed, hundreds imprisoned, and tens of thousands deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses, and educational opportunities.
While this film focuses on a terrible injustice, it is not so much about victim-hood as it is about resilience demonstrated in the face of oppression. This is your opportunity to become informed and to take action. This injustice seldom makes the evening news, so most of us are unaware that it is dangerous, pervasive, and growing.
A panel of area Baha’is will answer our questions and help us further understand the situation.
Jo Ann Borovicka, a master trainer with Global Learning Partners, Inc., has worked in a variety of international settings, designing and carrying out educational programs for diverse groups. As a member of the Baha'i community, she has served in the Baha'i Regional Training Institute in various capacities since 1999; lived in Haifa, Israel in 2007 and 2008, where she served in the Conservation Section of the Department of Holy Places of the Baha'i World Centre for the purpose of conserving and restoring antiquities related to the history of the Baha'i Faith.
Laurie Babb Barnett is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist with Abiada Healing Arts in Spartanburg, SC. She has been a Baha'i for nearly 11 years, and has served on committees and Assemblies in both North and South Carolina. Laurie currently chairs the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Henderson County.
Farhard NematFarhard Nematollahi, who lives in Greenville, came here in the late 80s, as a Baha'i refugee from Iran. Kitty Herriott met him while representing the US Baha'i Refugee Office in Pakistan.
As usual, decaf, hot tea, and healthy popcorn will be served. Questions: Suzy Camp-Goodman, SJOT Film Series Coordinator.