Film and panel discussion to highlight ongoing persecution of Baha'is in Iran

Iranian Baha'i leader Mahvash Sabet was released last week after a decade of unjust imprisonment

Wilmette, IL, Sept. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The release last week of Mahvash Sabet, a Baha'i leader in Iran, after a decade of unjust imprisonment was welcome news, but it highlights the long way yet to go for religious freedom in Iran and around the world. The Illinois Holocaust Museum, dedicated to teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice, and indifference, will host a screening of the film "Education under Fire," which focuses on Baha'i students that are denied higher education in Iran, followed by a panel discussion of Jewish and Baha'i scholars and individuals who have experienced first-hand oppression because of their religion.

The film and panel discussion will take place on October 8, 2017 from 1 to 4:30 pm.  The ticket fee of $12 includes a Museum tour, the film, and the panel discussion. To register go to

The film "Education Under Fire" (3:00-3:30pm) uses interviews, personal stories, and archival footage – often smuggled out of Iran at great personal risk – to explore how the Baha'is in Iran, in the face of ongoing oppression, have found creative ways to respond to religious injustice. In particular, it highlights the constructive resilience of Baha'i youth who have expressed their desire to pursue their education by developing informal arrangements through which they could have access to university-level studies.

The panelists, listed below, represent Baha'i and Jewish perspectives and will share personal stories, experiences, and their heartfelt dedication to religious freedom.  

Dr. Danny M. Cohen is a learning scientist, education designer, and fiction writer. Concerned with collective memories and marginalized narratives of atrocity, he focuses his teaching and research on community programming for social justice, memorialization, and education design, and appropriate and inappropriate pedagogies for educating about violence. Danny is the founder of Unsilence, through which he and his colleagues create educator training and learning experiences for teenagers that bring to light hidden stories of human rights. He is a governor-appointed member of the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission, he was a Faculty Fellow of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, and he sits on the editorial advisory board of the journal The Holocaust in History and Memory. Danny is also a writer of young adult human rights fiction, including the historical novel Train and the short stories The 19th Window and Dead Ends.

Dr. Marjan Davoudi is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Behavioral Mental Health, a private practice in San Diego and La Jolla California. Her clinical concentration is mood and anxiety disorders. Her research concentration is trauma and complex PTSD. She serves as a volunteer educator and global faculty at Baha'i Institute of Higher Education, a university for students excluded from higher education in Iran. She herself was also one of these students being expelled from the university and was denied the right to have formal education for 18 years before she moved out of her birth country Iran.

Zackery M. Heern was an assistant professor at Murray State University from 2011-2015 and has been an assistant professor in the Department of History at Idaho State University since 2015. Dr. Heern specializes in the Middle East and Islamic studies, and his research and teaching interests include Iran, Iraq, modern Islamic movements, Shi‘i Islam, intellectual history, world history, and religion. His book, The Emergence of Modern Shi‘ism: Islamic Reform in Iraq and Iran, was published by Oneworld Publications in 2015 and was featured in The Economist magazine.

Estelle Glaser Laughlin is a Holocaust survivor and was born in Warsaw, Poland, on July 9, 1929. Throughout her lifetime she was removed from school, forced with 400,000 Jews from the city and surrounding areas to live in a 1.3 square mile area - the Warsaw Ghetto, hid in secret rooms, and was sent to various concentration camps. To escape pogroms in Poland she moved to Bavaria in August 1945 and lived there until her move to the United States in 1947.

This event is part of the Light of Unity Festival, a nine-week series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha'u'llah, Founder of the Baha'i Faith. From September 10 to November 12, 2017, the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, IL, is collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to host these events and share some of the unifying principles of the Baha'i Faith: race unity, gender equality, harmony of science and religion, and the oneness of humankind. See for calendar of events.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice, and indifference. The Museum fulfills its mission through the exhibition, preservation, and interpretation of its collections and through education programs and initiatives that foster the promotion of human rights and the elimination of genocide.


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


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