Little Rock — On February 27th, local citizens will join in the launch of the international “Education is Not a Crime” campaign, with a screening of Maziar Bahari’s new documentary film, To Light a Candle to be held at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock. The screening is sponsored by the Baha’i community of Central Arkansas, in collaboration with Just Communities of Arkansas. The film chronicles the persecution of Iran’s Baha’is, and the development of their underground university The Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE).
These grassroots screenings are part of Education Is Not a Crime Day: February 27, 2015. The campaign website, educationisnotacrime.me, will feature voices of support from citizens around the world, and will tell a comprehensive story of the Baha’is in Iran, a religious minority that has overcome severe persecution to build solidarity, fortitude and hope among its people through its passion for education.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Baha’i community has been the target of systematic state-sponsored repression. Forbidden from attending or teaching at universities, the community established the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education in 1987. Through BIHE, the community has championed equality and non-violence, garnering support from educators around the world. Yet, its students and teachers still face enormous obstacles: classes are held in people’s homes and the threat of arrest is part of daily life.
The film and campaign are aimed at exposing social injustice and religious intolerance through personal stories and rare footage – often smuggled out of Iran at great personal risk. Education Is Not a Crime is a powerful statement – not only about the spirit and determination of the Baha’is of Iran, but also about the vital role of education in building communities and sustaining hope.
The Little Rock screening of To Light a Candle will be held at 7:00 p.m., at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Avenue in Little Rock. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion which will include Ravand Samaeekia and Fahime Mehrabkhani, former students and graduates of BIHE, Dr. Sohrab Kourosh, an interfaith religious scholar and author, and Dr. Thomas Bruce, Inaugural Dean of Clinton School of Public Service.