The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI) has released a report outlining the campaign of discrimination against certain students initiated under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Punishing Stars: Systematic Discrimination and Exclusion in Iranian Higher Education” explains how Iranian authorities monitor students and rate them on their supposed threat to the regime according to a three-star system. Students targeted in this way are then systematically excluded from universities. Most are activists opposing regime policies but many are also Baha’is automatically barred from education as soon as their religion becomes known, regardless of whether or not they are politically active.
The exclusion of Baha’is from higher education in Iran is not new and its continued practice indicates that the Iranian government wishes to portray Baha’is as being innately threatening simply by virtue of their group identity, equating them with those who are actively opposed to the regime. The nature of this particular persecution exposes some of the thinking present amongst the Iranian leadership. It is common for the perpetrators in genocidal societies to view target group members as threatening, and this exclusion from higher education (which is a common pre-genocidal preparation measure) in Iran indicates that the threat of genocide against Baha’is remains high.