Bahais in Iran

The Baha'i Community, Human Rights, and the Construction of a New Iranian Identity

Human rights and Iranian identity

What does it mean to be Iranian? What does it mean to be a human being? These are the questions confronting the Iranian people at this crucial juncture in their long history. In the incredible and unforgettable scenes that have unfolded in the streets of Tehran, and Isfahan, and Shiraz, and Tabriz, and Mashhad, and Ahvaz, and every other city and town in Iran, we are witnessing a struggle far greater than a mere political contest between different presidential candidates. We are witnessing a struggle for the soul of the nation; a struggle to build a new identity for the Iranian people. The encounter between the protesters and their tormentors is an encounter between the dark past and the bright future. It is an encounter between violence and non-violence, between the courage of those that are willing to sacrifice their lives for justice, and the cowardice of those that savagely beat and murder the defenseless. It is an encounter between the best and worst potentials inherent in humankind.

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Why is Iran Persecuting the Baha’is?

The ongoing trial of the seven Baha’i leaders in Iran and the escalating persecution of the Baha’i Faith in that country require an in-depth inquiry into the reasons for this persecution.

{josquote} Such an examination is scary for any of us who pride ourselves on our belief in pluralism and embracing difference.{/josquote}

With international outcry growing against the imprisonment and ongoing trial of seven Baha’is in Iran on trumped up charges, the title question seems obvious, but the question does not seem to get the kind of discussion it demands. I see descriptions of the persecution and calls for its end, but little discussion of why the Iranian state and religious authorities, as well as many everyday Iranians, have such animosity for Baha’is in particular.

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Under the Staircase


A Major Gaffe Reveals the True Nature of The Show Trial of the Iranian Baha'is

The Bahá'í Affairs Committee of the Human Rights Activists in Iran

The trial for the former Bahá'í leaders of Iran was finally held in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on Tuesday January 12, 2010, after a 1.5-year detention period and postponing of three previous trial dates. This trial was held behind closed doors and the immediate families were not allowed to be present. Even the lawyers representing the defendants had to work their way into the courtroom after significant persistence. The lawyers were able to finally meet their clients in person for the first time on the day of the trial. Despite being held behind closed doors, there were camera crews present in the courtroom, although it was not immediately apparent with what agency they were associated or who had granted them permission to record the proceedings.

{josquote}In one of its paragraphs, the text notes that the defendants had “confessed that they had held meetings at the homes of ambassadors from Western countries.”{/josquote}

The most prominent feature of the trial was its true nature as a show trial. This was most apparent in the inadvertent release on January 11, 2010, of a report of this trial a day before its actual date. The report was apparently pre-written and sent to news outlets for publication on Tuesday afternoon, after the session’s adjournment. However, despite well-rehearsed “instructions” regarding the timing of the publication, a major semi-official news source entitled “Young Journalists” published the report at 17:50 on Monday, January 11, on its front page, and, within two hours, another website entitled published the same article and referenced the original publication. The original article was available for viewing on the front page of “Young Journalists” website but was promptly removed at 09:05 on January 12, presumably once the gaffe was discovered. The site did not, however, realize that their article had been cross-posted and referenced on The original URL for the Young Journalists website is now a broken link.

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Muslims urged to accept minorities

Mahdi Mostafavi

Iranian delegate Mahdi Mostafavi said governments should fulfil the main purpose of man's creation and ensure society was obedient to God.

He said Muslims should not be subservient to any power that went against the will of God, who gave governments their legitimacy.

"The government should strive for material prosperity but also for man's exaltation in his humanity. Unfortunately this is neglected by most governments. Within the framework of God's laws, people should be free."

{josquote}Dr Mostafavi simply denied that any minorities in Iran faced ill-treatment.{/josquote}

Questioned by a leading Melbourne Muslim, Rachel Woodlock, about the treatment of Baha'is in Iran, Dr Mostafavi simply denied that any minorities in Iran faced ill-treatment. Ms Woodlock replied: "You have no credibility at all."

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