SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 31, 2015

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Ahlia University

Region & Country:Western Asia | Bahrain

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 31, 2015, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Professor Masaud Mirza Jahromi, Chair of the Telecommunication Engineering Department at Ahlia University in Manama, Bahrain.  Professor Jahromi was one of 72 Bahrainis — reportedly including journalists, activists and doctors — who were stripped of their citizenship pursuant to a recent revision to the 1963 Bahraini Citizenship Act. 
Professor Jahromi was arrested in April of 2011, after reportedly participating in a peaceful pro-democracy protest, and signing on to a statement along with other academics, supporting the call for dialogue between the government and the protesters.  On January 19, 2012, a Bahraini court found Professor Jahromi guilty of the crimes of “incitement to hatred of a regime and/or participation in unauthorized rallies.” He was sentenced to four months in prison (having already been imprisoned for five months) and a fine of 500 Bahraini dinars (about US $1,300).  Nearly a year after his release, Professor Jahromi was reportedly restored to his position and resumed working at Ahlia University.  As of this report, no other information is available about any additional arrests or allegations against Professor Jahromi. 
Bahrain’s Ministry of Interior announced its decree on January 31, 2015, stating that “[t]he Ministry of Interior is responsible for protecting the security and stability of Bahrain. Part of that responsibility is a duty to fight terrorism and identify those who engage, encourage or participate in such acts.” The statement went on to allege that the Ministry was revoking the citizenship of 72 individuals “for illegal acts”, including supporting and participating in terrorist activities, as well as “[s]pying for foreign countries and recruiting a number of persons through social media”, “[d]efaming the image of the regime, inciting against the regime and spreading false news to hinder the rules of the constitution”, “[i]nciting and advocating regime change through illegal means”, and “[d]efaming brotherly countries.”  
The decree was reportedly instituted without court proceedings or other due process, effectively rendering the majority of its targets stateless, including Professor Jahromi.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the summary revocation of citizenship of a professor and others, apparently as a result of nonviolent expressive activity.  International human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly protect both the right of individuals to be free from arbitrary deprivations of their nationality, and the right to engage in nonviolent expressive activity.  States have a responsibility to comply with internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and freedom of expression and association, and to refrain from actions arbitrarily rendering their citizens stateless.  State actions retaliating for nonviolent expressive activity, whether through arbitrary deprivation of citizenship or otherwise, undermine expressive freedom and democratic society generally.