A Bahá’í World News Service report describes the latest wave of a concentrated effort to restrict the Bahá’í Faith. Iranian officials have raided 30 Bahá’í homes and arrested up to 16 leaders of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE) and accused them of “spreading the faith of a misled group … and setting a trap for the citizens.” Since then, nine have been reportedly released.

Considering Iran does not permit followers of the Bahá’í faith into their university programs, the BIHE is one of the main tools of self-preservation and advancement for the Bahai’i community in Iran. The arrests echo similar raids that occurred in the late 1990s, where 36 Bahá’í educators were arrested, although most of them were shortly released. Bahá’í students are regularly denied from access to higher education, and even younger Bahá’í students are harassed and persecuted because of their faith. BIHE has served as an invaluable resource for the advancement of Baha’is by providing them with access to higher education, mostly through online classes. The physical headquarters of the BIHE had been housed in the homes of a few faculty and professors, but was shut down by the Iranian authorities in 2000.

As far as is known, these Bahá’í leaders have been arrested for nothing other than their faith, as further evidence of the extensive persecution of religious minorities in Iran. However, by targeting the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education, the Iranian state is also denying the Baha’i community a fundamental right to development and denying them a crucial part of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Considering the demand for an educated population in a globalised community, and the difficulty even Iranians of the majority have obtaining employment, this further obstacle in the path of Bahá’í education is an effective means of keeping the community marginalized and suffocating it even without the use of traditional violence.