TORONTO — Iranian scholars, many from globally prominent universities, gathered here for a groundbreaking academic conference on the persecution of Iran’s Baha’is.
Titled “Intellectual Othering and the Baha’i Question in Iran,” the conference examined how Iranian authorities have sought to exclude Baha’is from social, political, cultural, and intellectual life by portraying them as outsiders in their own land – a process known as “othering.”
The event, held from 1-3 July, was the first major academic conference at a top-ranked university to focus on the persecution of Iran’s Baha’is in any context.
“This conference is not a Baha’i studies conference,” said its main organizer Mohamad Tavakoli. “It is an effort to understand the use of repression in the history of modern Iran and how the ‘othering’ of Baha’is has become a mechanism of mass mobilization for the legitimization of the state and for the creation of political-religious ideology.”
Dr. Tavakoli – a well-known scholar on Iran and the Middle East from the University of Toronto – said the idea for the conference came from his own research into the degree to which various Iranian groups had used anti-Baha’i rhetoric and made a scapegoat of Baha’is to gain political power, both in the past and the present.