Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Community News

Bahá’í Community Backs Higher Education in Iran

"To Light A Candle" free film screening Feb 27

Released by April Neave, Chilliwack Community Services



ore than 85 Canadian communities will screen Maziar Bahari’s film “To Light a Candle” as part of a global campaign condemning the denial of the right of Bahá’ís to higher education in Iran.


The campaign, titled “Education Is Not a Crime”, begins with a global day of action on February 27th. The campaign and the film document the peaceful response of the Bahá’ís of Iran to 35 years of unrelenting persecution, highlighting the story of informal arrangements by which Bahá’ís organized university classes in order to overcome the violation of their education rights by the Iranian regime.

The persecution of the Bahá’í s and the denial of education to Bahá’ís is the subject of “To Light a Candle”, a new documentary by Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. The trailer can be viewed on YouTube here.

Like other Iranian Bahá’ís who have responded to the persecutions in constructive ways, rather than resorting to violence, and were then arrested because of their religious beliefs, many of those who sought to teach informal university classes have also been arrested and put in prison with Bahá’í leaders, Bahá’í children’s class teachers and Bahá’í business owners. Among those incarcerated are four graduates of Canadian universities who returned to their homeland from Canada in order to teach subjects like business management, science and psychology.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is the latest Nobel Laureate to add his voice to the chorus of condemnation of the actions by the government of Iran.


His statement on his website notes, “… banning the Bahá’í s or any group from higher education is hurting Iran and the Iranian people.” Other Nobel Laureates speaking out include Ms. Mairead Maguire, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Ms. Tawakkol Karman and Ms. Jody Williams.

Communities from Trail, BC, to Moose Jaw and St. John’s, Newfoundland, will be holding public screenings, some in partnership with other civic organizations to help raise awareness of the denial of education in Iran, and to put the spotlight on other attacks on the Bahá’í community that have intensified over the past 18 months. These attacks have included increased arrests, economic attacks, destruction of Bahá’í cemeteries and a multiplication of government sponsored hate propaganda on TV and radio directed at the Bahá’ís.


Chilliwack has an active community of approximately 70 Bahá’ís. Almost half have family connections in Iran and some of those have been persecuted or imprisoned due to their teaching efforts.


What: Screening of “To Light a Candle”

Who: Marcella LaFever, Associate Professor in the Communications Department at the University of the Fraser Valley, will facilitate discussion following the film.

When: 7:00 p.m. Friday February 28th, 2015

Where: Sardis Secondary School theatre, 45460 Stevenson Rd, Chilliwack

Cost: Entrance is no charge. Everyone is welcome to attend.


About the Film by Maziar Bahari

Through personal stories and dramatic archive footage, To Light a Candle gives a powerful account of the Baha’i people in Iran, a religious minority that builds solidarity, resilience and pride among its people through its passion for education. With the establishment of the informal Baha’i Higher Institute of Education (BIHE) in 1987, the Baha’i faith – which has its roots in Iran – has championed equality and non-violence and garnered support from educationalists around the world to further its aim. Forbidden from attending or teaching at universities in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, the students and teachers face enormous obstacles: classes are held at people’s houses in secret, with the threat of arrest part of everyday life.

Through compelling interviews, personal stories and exclusive archive material – brought out of Iran at great personal risk – the film shines a light on the community and exposes the brutality of Iran’s extreme religious leaders, who are unwilling to tolerate difference in any form, whether it be religious belief or the quest for knowledge.

To Light a Candle is a testament not only to the spirit and determination of the Baha’i community in Iran, it highlights how education can play a vital role in supporting communities and sustaining hope.

© Copyright (c) 2009-2015 The Valley Voice