After life of persecution, Plano Bahais lead nationwide call for change


Photos by Michael Boren. Mehri Mavaddat and her son, Payam Mavaddat, with a portrait of Farhang Mavaddat in Mehri's Plano home.

It was near summer’s end in 1980, and Mehri Mavaddat and her husband were just bailed out of jail.

They were Iranians of the Bahai faith, which authorities had launched a rapid persecution the year before.

“They attacked so many times to my home at midnight, during the day,” Mehri Mavaddat said. “They confiscated all my money, jewelry, books, mostly the books, and then destroyed everything.”

And so it began. Her husband, Farhang Mavaddat, would breathe two to three more weeks outside of prison before authorities asked him back to be a witness for someone.

“People were telling us, ‘Don’t go, it is a trap for you,” said Mehri Mavaddat, who’s in her mid-70s. “But he said, ‘I haven’t done anything.’”

It was a trap, however, and suddenly he vanished from his wife into one of Iran’s most infamous prisons.

“For two months, I didn’t have any clue where he is,” Mehri Mavaddat said. “Finally, he sent a message through one of the Bahais whose husband was there.”

{josquote}Presently, her son and Bahais across the nation are trying to create a U.S. bill to help their group.{/josquote}

Farhang Mavaddat was in Evin prison, the same prison seven other Bahai leaders have been incarcerated in since spring 2008. Many believe the seven are behind bars for the same reason he was: their religion.

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