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: March 14, 2018

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Iran

New or Ongoing:New Incident

In March 2018, Iran’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS) reportedly expelled Soha Izadi, a student in informatic engineering, apparently on the basis of her religious beliefs.

On March 14, 2018, IAISBS officials reportedly expelled Ms. Izadi in accordance with an order by the national Education Evaluation Organization’s Ethics Division. IASBS officials later explained to her that she could only resume her studies if she renounced her Baha’i faith. Ms. Izadi had expected to graduate in 2019.

According to Article 1 of Iran’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council’s Student Qualification Regulations, members of the Baha’i community are restricted from enrolling in universities and are to be expelled from university programs if they are identified as Baha’i after enrolling.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary expulsion of a student in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of religion — conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. University authorities have a responsibility to refrain from arbitrary expulsions and other disciplinary measures to restrict the peaceful exercise of internationally recognized rights to freedom of religion and expression.