Refugees from the land of the Mullahs (an extract)

Others are practitioners of the Baha’i faith, whose persecution has intensified of late. Shakib Adibzadeh, 26, tells Maclean’s his family home was pelted with garbage, and his relatives were harassed on the street. His brother could not get accepted to university. His employer would not pay him, knowing the state would do nothing about it. When members of his family tried to set up their own business, they could never get a permit. Baha’i graves were dug up and destroyed. Adibzadeh and his family fled to Van [in Turkey]. Canada has recently accepted him as a refugee.

Ahmad Mousavi, another Iranian in Van, is gay. He was in love with a Baha’i man, whose phone calls the security services were monitoring. “That’s how I was found out,” he says. Tormented by his homosexuality, Mousavi had converted to Christianity in an effort to become heterosexual. It didn’t work, but his dalliance with the church gave intelligence ministry officials one more thing to hold against him, in addition to his homosexuality and friendship with a Baha’i. They forced Mousavi to sign a declaration promising to get married and shun non-Muslims. “I could have done everything they asked except get married,” he says. “I couldn’t marry a girl.”

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