The Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) in Iran has been declared an “illegal” organization by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
ISNA cites the ministry’s announcement that “the online university BIHE has not received any ministry permits for operation, and all its activities are illegal.”
The ministry also maintained that all diplomas and degrees issued by this institution “lack legal validity.”
Iranian security forces had previously shut down science and research facilities at the Baha’i Open University in Tehran and arrested a number of its staff in several cities.
The international Baha’i community reports that at least 30 Baha’is were arrested on May 22 in Tehran, Karaj, Esfahan and Shiraz in.
Iran’s Baha’i community established the Baha’i Open University in 1987 to offer higher education to Baha’is, who face discrimination under the Islamic Republic system.
While Baha’ism was founded in Iran and Baha’is form the largest religious minority there, the government does not recognize it as a legitimate religion. Baha’is are denied access to higher education and discriminated against in all walks of life.
In March, a number of Iranian Baha’is were arrested in Bam, Kerman and Tehran, charged with “promoting their projects under the guise of educational and cultural programs in daycares.”
Seven Baha’i community leaders, who had already been incarcerated for two years, were recently sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of espionage.