Published March 19, 2008
Iran's schools are teaching children to abide by Islamic supremacy and discriminate against non-Muslims and women, according to a study of Iranian textbooks by the think tank Freedom House.
The study, "Discrimination and Intolerance in Iran's Textbooks," examined about 95 different school textbooks that are mandatory for first- through 11th-grade students in Iran. Authored by Paris-8 University sociologist Saeed Paivandi, it is the most comprehensive look to date at the books being used in Iranian schools, according to The New York Sun.
"The discourse of the textbooks has not been written with the concept of equality of all human beings, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the study concludes. "In the textbooks' reasoning, human beings cannot be equal with one another on this earth, in the same way that, on the day of reckoning, they will be subject to divine judgment for their identity and actions."
Based on the analysis of the Iranian textbooks, Paivandi surmises that different people have different places in society; those who aren't high on the status ladder will be victimized by prejudice.
"Some individuals are born first-class citizens, due to their identity, gender and way of thinking, while others become second- and third-class citizens," the study states. "Those who are excluded from the inside are victims of this discriminatory system."
Numerous laws passed by the Islamic Republic of Iran reflect the lack of equality between Muslims and non-Muslims, dictating that those who don't embrace Islam should be barred from top government and military jobs, admission to universities and so on, according to the Sun. Such principles are reinforced in the textbooks for schoolchildren which Paivandi examined.
"By taking note of the guidance and instructions provided by Islam, every Muslim youth must strike fear in the hearts of the enemies of God and their people through combat-readiness and skillful target shooting," one seventh-grade textbook says.
The books also dictate that women should not join the workforce, but instead must stay at home to raise children.
"A mother whose husband earns sufficient income cannot say, 'My job demands that I leave my child at the day care center every day,' and, in this way deprive her child from her constant love and attention," reads a passage in a 10th-grade book.
The school textbooks recognize some non-Muslim affiliations, including Judaism, the study found. But others, like the Bahai tradition, are characterized as cults.