Canada responds to film on the perseverance and persecution of Baha’is in Iran

Canada responds to film on the perseverance and persecution of Baha’is in Iran

Many of more than 90 communities across Canada screened the film “To Light a Candle” on Friday as part of the campaign “Education Is Not a Crime” (www.educationisnotacrime.me) launched on 27 February by Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. Other communities will be screening the film over the coming days.

The film calls attention to the refusal by Iranian authorities to allow Baha’is to attend university and their attacks on efforts to provide some measure of university education to Baha’is.

At least 30 newspaper articles in Canada have reported on the campaign and the film screenings. Many of the articles highlight the perseverance and resilience of the Baha’i community of Iran in the face of relentless persecution. Among the articles was a commentary on the campaign by Bahari published by The Globe and Mail 25 February. Well known radio personality Michael Enright of CBC One also interviewed Bahari for a program to be broadcast on The Sunday Edition 15 March.

In Canada’s Parliament, former Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for Mount Royal, Irwin Cotler, spoke about the campaign on 26 February:

“ … the “Education is Not a Crime” campaign to dramatize the painful reality that education is a crime for the Bahá’i community, a case study of the persecution and prosecution of the Bahá’i, Iran’s largest religious minority, who are treated as non-citizens devoid of fundamental rights, … amidst a culture of impunity, state-sanctioned incitement to hatred of the Bahá’i has dramatically increased…

“The Iranian government has made being a Baha’i a crime, but we can change that. We can give voice to their rights. We can tell the Iranian government, as Bishop Tutu put it, that banning the Bahá’i is hurting Iran and the Iranian people. As former Iranian Canadian political prisoner Maziar Bahari put it, and the slogan for this global campaign, we can light a candle on their behalf.”

Several prominent Canadians spoke at public screenings of the film including two former federal cabinet ministers, Lloyd Axworthy in Winnipeg and Ujjal Dosanjh in Vancouver. City mayors, councillors and officials from various organizations attended screenings, as did a number of university professors who spoke on panels in support of the campaign Education Is Not a Crime.