Montreal, April 9, 2018 – The auditorium in Vanier College was filled to capacity with students, faculty members and some members of the Bahá’í community to listen to Wahied Wahdat-Hagh  a Past President of the International Human Rights League. He spoke on the topic of Religious Discrimination in Iran, from Antisemitism over Anti-Bahaism to the Persecution of New Christians.

His presentation covered a comprehensive background on the rise of Islam and its various schools of thoughts throughout the Middle East. The rise of Hojjatieh Society, which also figured prominently in guiding the thinking of the lay leadership of the 1979 revolution in Iran, was founded as a specifically anti-Bahá’í organization. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh continued his analysis saying: “The Bahá’í Faith was initially seen as a reform movement when it emerged in 1844 in Iran — and its progressive ideals (such as equal rights for women) remain at the center of Iran’s struggle with the modern world. Early opposition to the Bahá’í Faith in Iran was so intense that more than 20,000 followers were killed in the mid-1800s. Since then, Bahá’ís have been used as scapegoats by all sides of the political spectrum in Iran whenever there was a need to divert attention from policy failures in other areas. Such points go far in helping to answer the question: why are Iranian Bahá’ís persecuted so vehemently by the government — despite their commitment to nonviolence, their steadfast noninvolvement in politics, and their long-standing efforts to promote the development of their country?”

The presentation was followed by many questions from the audience on subjects such as the cause of genocide and its prevention in the future society, as well as the incorporation of religious laws into politics to which satisfactory answers were given by the speaker.

For the 26th consecutive year, Vanier College is holding the Annual Symposium on the Holocaust and Genocide, April 9 – 13, 2018. The theme this year is Civic Responsibility: Toward Dialogue.

Through a week of guest speakers, workshops and Holocaust Survivor testimonials, the Symposium aims to alert young people to discrimination, racism, and genocide in their many manifestations, and to encourage historical understanding in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Eyewitness and first-hand accounts are often the best motivators to spark students’ awareness, concern, and action. One of the main strengths of the Symposium is its capacity to impart important lessons about ethical citizenship and moral courage.

The guest speaker Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh who is a member of the Bahá’í community of Berlin, was born in Ludwigsburg, Germany. In the 1960s, he resided in Tehran, with a one-year interruption in Hamburg. He is a German citizen and has lived in Germany since 1971. He has a Diploma in Sociology, with the subsidiary subjects of Psychology and Education. He has a second Diploma in Political Science, as well as his PhD in Political Science. He was a fellow with Memri and European Foundation for Democracy. Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is known for exposing some of Iran’s most heinous human rights violations, especially of religious minorities. He is also a sought-after voice for his astute political analysis on Iran amongst European and especially German policymakers. 


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