House of Baha’u'llah in Tehran features in Iran’s pre-election polemics

FARS, May 15

The house in Tehran where Baha’u'llah was born was added to the register of historic buildings in December 2006 and is to be restored. In recent days, reports of this, with numerous photographs of the exterior and courtyard of the house, have been carried in the conservative FARS news agency and copied by many other publications. This is being used to embarrass Isfandiyar Rahim Masha’i ( اسفندیار رحیم مشایی ), a close ally and relative of President Ahmadinezhad and one of the proposed presidential candidates. FARS claims that there are hundreds of old houses in Tehran with a similar architectural and cultural value, which the provincial authority for Cultural Heritage has not registered. The report lists the homes of princes and prominent clerics of the period that have not been registered, and describes the importance of the house in Bahai history (with the bias one would expect). It was previously owned by an organisation for the propagation of Islam, and purchased by the present owner in 2005, in order to prevent its demolition. This owner has registered it as a historic building and intends to restore it using his own funds. However the ‘transparency” magazine has claimed that it was bought by the Cultural Heritage foundation, at a time when Mr. Masha’i was the head of that organisation.

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