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**** یــــــــــــــــــــــاری چــوار چیون بــاوری و جا ////// راسـتــــــــــی و پاکـــــــی ، نیستـــــی و رداء **** ****راگـــــــــه حقیقت شیشه بنیین نه جـــــای گـــزافن نه جای منیین**** پیروان آئین یارسان - Changing the World, One Wall at a Time پیروان آئین یارسان - Changing the World, One Wall at a Time
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Changing the World, One Wall at a Time, a feature film about the global street art and human rights campaign Education Is Not A Crime, had its London premiere on February 27 at the Ritzy Cinema at the heart of Brixton, one of the capital’s most multi-cultural neighborhoods. Following the film, the popular British-Iranian comedian and activist Omid Djalili talked with Maziar Bahari, an executive producer of the film and the founder of Education Is Not A Crime, about how a simple campaign grew into a global street art initiative

The documentary follows the campaign, comprising of 40 murals spanning at least nine cities and working with dozens of artists, and raises awareness of the situation facing the Baha’is in Iran. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Bahai’s have faced harsh discrimination, including being systematically denied access to education

Djalili, who is a Baha’i, described Education Is Not A Crime as one of the most “non-aggressive, non-confrontational” campaigns he’d come across

It started with a simple idea: to champion the importance of the right to education and highlight that Baha’is were being denied this right in Iran — just as world leaders were gathering for the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York City in 2015. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were among the delegates who may have passed the campaign’s first New York mural at Lexington Avenue and 23rd Street

Changing the World, One Wall at a Time tracks the evolution of the campaign from that beginning to where it is today, an international project that urges the public to think about the power of education and what it means to be denied access to it. The film showcases the street art in all its glory — in New York City, Sydney, London, New Delhi, Sao Paulo, and more than 20 murals in Harlem alone  — and talks to the people behind the work, including popular artists Rone from Australia, Astro from France, Marthalicia Matarrita from New York, and Elle from Los Angeles

“When a regime is brutal, when a regime is armed and militarized, I think the resistance, the people who are criticizing the regime, who are opposing the regime, have to use a different language,” Bahari, who is also the founding editor-in chief of IranWire, said

Like so many other non-Baha’is who grew up in Iran in the 1980s, Bahari did not recognize the plight of Iran’s largest religious minority until much later, when he began to look at the overall context for human rights in the country. He saw how the community embraced peaceful resistance, non-violence and equality — and that it was this that made the Baha’is a “thriving” community, unlike other other groups that had been suppressed in Iran. And it was this approach that had helped create a shift in society’s attitudes toward the minority group, he said

 

A Universal Message

But it has not just been Baha’is who have resisted brutality — this strategy has had a long legacy throughout centuries. With the American civil war, Bahari said, attempts to suppress African-Americans were met with peaceful demonstrations and non-violence. "Even though they were suppressed militarily, violently, they chose to be non-violent

So Education Is Not A Crime is about the Baha’is in Iran, but it’s also about education more broadly, and its synergy with humanity — fostering, protecting and emboldening what it means to be human — regardless of the country or culture. It draws on other movements for change, building solidarity and fostering awareness about the links between discrimination and repression across the generations and around the world. The film celebrates this universality, bringing artists, students, visionaries, human rights activists and advocates for free speech together, as well as people from other diverse walks of life. It hears from activists with experience of the civil rights movement, the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa, and human rights work on behalf of Iranians of all backgrounds. Iranian Baha’is with personal experience of being denied their right to higher education also share their stories

Local people also give their impressions of the murals and what it’s like to see them going up. And the film presents the process of erecting and creating these murals (from talking to local communities and owners of the buildings that host the murals, to arranging scissor lifts for artists to access huge walls spanning several storeys), and documents the experiences of those who worked on the campaign, including Ayana Hosten, who talks about her mother’s memories of living in a segregated North Carolina in the 1950s

At the screening on February 27, Bahari talked about how the campaign found its heart in Harlem. “Harlem became part of the campaign organically because we had murals in different parts of New York and Manhattan, but when we were in Harlem, people reacted to the murals in a different way. The response was amazing

 

“Sounds Like Memphis” 

Since 1979, the Iranian government has persecuted the Baha'is, targeting their businesses, blocking them from government jobs, desecrating their cemeteries, routinely jailing and harassing them, and running propaganda campaigns to turn the Iranian public against them. Hundreds have been killed and thousands jailed and harassed. Baha’is are banned from teaching and studying in Iranian universities. But they do teach and they do study in secret, primarily through the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), an informal “underground” university the Baha’is set up in 1987 in response to the Iranian government’s refusal to grant them their right to learn. Prior to the campaign and Changing the World, One Wall at a Time, Maziar Bahari’s film To Light A Candle reflected on the birth of BIHE, and the Baha’i community’s commitment to education

“I was amazed at how they were continually being rounded up, continually put in prison, but that did not stop them, they just carried on,” said Omid Djalili about the first time he heard about BIHE

During the creation of the mural in Atlanta, mural artists Charmaine Minniefield, Fabian Williams and Joe King talked with passersby about the plight of the Baha’is

In New York, the choreographer George Faison, who in 1975 became the first African-American winner of the Tony Award for his work on The Wiz, reflected on the story of the Baha’is with a simple observation: “Sounds like Memphis,” he said. Faison’s theater in Harlem, the Faison Firehouse Theater, hosted one of the campaign’s murals by the South African artist Ricky Lee Goedon

The comparison with Memphis aptly demonstrates what the film is trying to say, as Djalili noted after the London screening. “Immediately when he said that, that this sounds like what happened to us as slaves, it was a very powerful connection that just highlighted that those things happened in the 1940s and 50s, and before that, and this is 2018 and it’s still the same. We’re living in 2018 and these people are not allowed to have education. What the murals are doing, as all good art does, is to create discussion

And, more than anything, the discussion is around the power of education. “One of the by-products of this film is that people begin to appreciate their own education,” said Djalili. “To see these kids [studying at BIHE] fighting to meet in clandestine ways [to learn] is very, very inspiring.” And, reminding the London audience of one of the murals  — French artist Astro’s stunning mural in Harlem, which features a labyrinthine tunnel with a light at the end of it, evoking the gate outside Tehran University  — he added: “It makes you realize that education is that light at the end of the tunnel. Education is a blank check to your future. These are very, very powerful messages


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