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IRAN: Bahais rounded up


Human rights advocates have decried the apparent arrests this week of six leaders of Iran's embattled Bahai community.

Rights groups say Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Vahid Tizfahm were all unofficial leaders of Iran's outlawed but often tolerated Bahai religious minority who lived in Tehran.

They were arrested Wednesday, most likely on security charges, by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security and locked up Tehran's infamous Evin Prison, according to rights activists.

No one's sure why. Bahais are mostly apolitical. But Iran's clerical leadership considers them heretical. And they are informally barred from obtaining public-sector employment or university scholarships.

Some believe the move is a red herring, meant to create distractions at a time of domestic turmoil over spiraling price inflation.

"It’s to create a crisis in the foreign policy," said Hadi Ghaemi, of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a group based in Vienna. The government "is in a weak position and could benefit from an international outcry to distract from its failures in domestic policy."

According to a Bahai news Web site, the six were taken from their homes Wednesday morning by intelligence officials who spent hours searching their residences.

The seventh member of the Bahai leadership group was arrested in early March in Mashhad.

"The early morning raids on the homes of these prominent Bahais were well coordinated, and it is clear they represent a high-level effort to strike again at the Bahais and to intimidate the Iranian Bahai community at large," Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations, said in a news release.

Up to 300,000 Bahais live in Iran, where the religion was founded in the 19th century.

Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: All seven people who lead Iran's Bahai community have been arrested, six of them in early-morning raids on Wednesday at their homes in Tehran. They are, seated from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Saeid Rezaie, and, standing, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet. Credit: Bahai World News Service

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Comments () | Archives (19)

Conspiracy theories have long been used against persecuted religious minorities – not only Baha’i’s . Pogroms have been committed against cultural minorities – such as Jewish people -- throughout history. European Jews were blamed for the “Black Death” during the Middle-ages and German cities were cleansed of Jews. The reformer Martin Luther was highly anti-Jewish, but so was a large percentage of Europeans. He wrote an essay titled “On the Jews and Their Lies” which sounds eerily similar to what has been advocated against Iranian Baha’i’s. For the solution of the Jewish question, Martin Luther recommended the destruction of Jewish leadership through the killing of Rabbi’s, the destruction of synagogues, the annihilation of Jewish Prayer books, the destruction of homes, the burning of Jewish schools, and the seizure of Jewish property and money. So the solution the Iranian authorities have for the Baha’i’ question or problem is not a new strategy. It has been practiced throughout history in many various cultures. Now should we turn a blind eye to pogroms because they have been practiced throughout history by various nations? Does this make these actions right? My perception is that it isn’t right because if I believe God is on His throne, and if I believe in justice, I will be held accountable for my actions. So I would have to be 100 percent certain that my actions would not come back to haunt me if I were to be involved in a pogrom. If I don’t believe in God and I still believe that stealing and killing are wrong, I will also feel a consonant dissonance between my actions and my beliefs. It is really sad that in a modern age, pogroms and genocide are still issues, and before history ends there may be still more of these. But my basic question is that even though these actions have occurred in human history in many civilizations, does it make it right? And if faulty conspiracy theories attributed the “Black Death” to the Jews during the 1300’s in Germany, should we not more carefully investigate these conspiracy theories before we jump on a bandwagon and harm innocent people?

I am fascinated with the phenomenon of ascribing (as some authors do above)to major Western countries the ability to create entire global movements of millions of people, or nationwide belief systems. It is as if the Third World country people think of the USA and GrBritian as SUPERPOWERS ABLE TO DO ANYTHING!!!

Good heavens, what a childish view of reality.

The 7 Baha'i leaders arrested in Iran on '08 are supposed to be coming to trial this week (Feb 09) on the usual trumped-up charges of 'espionage' and 'slander'.


We are so used to hearing this from Iran that it is correct to invoke the phrase, "the banality of evil". The evil is charging people they know are innocent, hoping to threaten them enough so they will cry, "UNCLE" and sign a Moslem-join-up-I-won't-be-a-Baha'i-anymore card.

You wonder what happened to the great civilising influences that used to pervade Persia. What have the Ullamas done with them? How is it they sink to commanding people be tortured, impoverished and even killed for 'thinking wrong thoughts'?

If you want recent information on the case which is attracting huge international interest in the Iranian human rights situation and the Baha'is in general go to

The famous Iranian/UK comic Omid Djalili as contributed as well.

Pull back the veils.
Let the light shine.

religion is" man made" and so is politics. poltics is developed to govern a country and to create laws to control people and so is religion. religion is designed to control people. a country would either have to be ruled by politics or religion and religion is the most dirtiest of all. if you all browse deep through the bahai faith and its history, you would all realise that the bahai faith is a "british made religion" nearly 70 years ago. the british developed this religion in iran as a means of political movement and to cause political disturbance and a fall of unity among the iranians. just like the indian faith "sikhism" developed by the british less than a century ago. "sikhism " comes from "hinduism" and "islamic shia". sikhism was developed by the british simply to cause a fall of unity among indian hindus.
bahai faith is developed from the religion "islamic shia" by the british simply so a political disturbance among iranians would occur and until now 2009, iranian bahai's and the iranian muslims are never in peace with each other in the this world.
simply believing in god or simply being an athiest is more peacefull than following a religion. religion is man made and each one of them want to dominate one another inorder to rule the world. the foundations of religion is based on war not peace. " the world will be ruled by one government one day" says a priest, and that's exactly what each religion attempts -to simply conquer and dominate the world"

peace to all...... michael

beautifully put. :)

It is always interesting to read anti-Baha'i propaganda by Iranians who have no clue as to the size and influence of the world-wide Baha'i community.

There are nearly 6 millions Baha'is in the world today, most of them are not Persian. The Britannica Book of the Year says that the Baha'i Faith is "the second most widespread of the world's independent religions in terms of the number of countries represented" at 247 countries and territories. Within the Baha'i Faith are represented over 2,100 ethnic, racial and tribal groups. Baha'i literature, much of it orginially in Persian and Arabic, has been translated into more than 800 languages. It has been listed as one of the world's fastest growing religions.

Do Iranians know that prayers in their language, stories of their cultures, the history of their nation, and praise of their great cities is raised in Baha'i meetings in every corner of the planet, in every language you can name. Baha'is speak fondly of Iran as the birthplace of their faith from cultures as diverse as the Andes and the Samoas. The KING of SAMOA was a Baha'i. The Queen of Romania was a Baha'i.

British cult, indeed. Iran, look around the world and the kindest words about your country are uttered by Baha'is.

Those of us who are not barbarians in this global civilization, who are educated and wish all human beings the same right to happiness and peace, can only laugh out loud at cowardly statements made about the Baha'i community. A British imperialist plot? A zionist conspiracy? No one of any intelligence believes this. We see the violence in your hearts. We see the darkness of swastikas and remember history. We know that your God will deal with you mercilessly.

I was tempted to ignore the comments of Mr "Bahais are British Cult" and Mr Azr@el, but for the sake of others reading these comments, I've decided to do otherwise! Not wanting to dwell too much on the reasons and background to the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran I recommend visiting first and then if you have time
As to Hoveyda please read the articles on the web that talk about him such as to understand that he was not a Baha'i and that even at his trial by the revolutionary courts this issue of him being a Baha'i was not even raised and that he was sentenced to death and executed as a Muslim.
Dear Iranian friends, I will not continue this debate, as truth does not need a defender, but I'd like to close with this remark: it might be hard to digest but for the past 160years, so many lies have been told by the people in power (political and religious) that now many believe black is white! Free from prejudice find the strength from within to go to the source and investigate the truth about things. That people in Iran for the past 160 years were manipulated by the priest and government to kill or destroy is not an indication of the will of the people, but of the immorality and inhumanity of those in power. Peace!

I suggest people to re-read Iran's history

The persecution of Bahai's did not begin under islamic republic of iran, it only CONTINUED!

In the mid-1800s, some 20,000 followers were killed by the monarchist authorities or by mobs (aka the people).

In 1933, for example, Bahai literature was banned, Bahá’í marriages were not recognized, and Bahá’ís in public service were demoted or fired. In 1955, the government oversaw the demolition of the Bahá’í national center in Tehran with pickaxes.

So if they are being persecuted, its a manifestaion of the people's will, right or wrong. Iranians don't like Bahais. Plus their center of pilgrimate is in Israel, and there is a huge Bahai/Israeli connection. Plus Bahai's were created by British to divide the Shia's. Otherwise Bahaism is not a religion, but a political movement created and nurtured by British. And Hoveyad (irans former bahai prime minister under shah) was a Free Mason.

These people are not being rounded up because they are Bahai, but because of their ties to the West to topple the government they despise. and are compromosing Irans national sovereignty. Dont work with doshman and you wont have a problem.

While I have the utmost respect for Iranian culture and the Iranian people, I do condemn the blatant human rights violations of its current regime, both against the Baha'is as well as many other minorities. I pray that those reading this story and these comments will do their best to inform themselves about this disturbing reality.

I would suggest reading the following as further background:

The Iranian people and world community should be outraged that such acts of oppression are still carried out in this day and age.

Mrs/ms knudson, attempt to shove aside your hate of the republic & acquire the minimum of knowledge on the topic before you allow your mind and lips to exchange roles. All Iranian state institutions of higher education are in effect free due to subsidies, tuition , board , learning materials, etc; admission is therefore automatically a scholarship. The private universities are not free and these are usually the institutions B'hais attend. Furthermore if you could prove that one of your relatives served, or god forbid perished in the ranks during the war and that the state denied you admission into Public University on a non-academic basis, regardless of your creed; there would be an outrage amongst the political classes and average Iranian on the street.

Azr@el posted:

"Many b'hais sided with MKO and saddam's invasion force during the war of sacred defense"

This is pure fabrication. What legitimate independent news source did you get this propaganda from? Please cite your source. Any such news article from Iran would be discounted as all the newspapers there are censored or coerced and controlled by the Iranian regime.

Obviously you are pro- Iranian regime, having labeled the war with Iraq as "sacred defense."
The rest of the points you made are also so outlandishly and obviously false that all the reader can feel or you is pity that you have either fallen prey to the brainwashing of the despotic rulers in Iran or are paid by them to carry on your senseless propaganda here to confuse the readers.

Quite the opposite of what you say, and in total agreement with the world consensus, the Baha'is have never been tolerated by the Islamic government of Iran. Tolerant regimes do not bulldoze Baha'i cemeteries country-wide, destroy Baha'i Holy Places, issues edicts to remove and reject all Baha'i students from universities, refuse Baha'is government jobs and so forth. Do you also believe the Holocaust never happened to the Jews?

Dear mr./ms Azr@el:
Exactly where does your information come from?

During the war, Baha'is were drafted and since as a Baha'i law they must obey the laws of their land, went to war, at which point they were sent to the front lines and to clear mine fields. Baha'is were killed in the war alongside the rest of their countrymen.

Further to a point in the article: Baha'i students are banned from admission into higher education and NOT simply from receiving scholarships. They simply are not even permitted to attend.

This is simply a continuation of the government's policy to rid the country of the followers of the Baha'i Faith.

I wish you the best in your search for the truth.

Where do you get all this wrong information from mr./ms Azr@el?

One man's peace activist is another's draft dodger. Draft dodging is one thing if you are speaking of a foreign war of choice, it's quite another thing when talking about an imposed war of self defense. Had saddam won the war; there would be no Iran today. So why in god's name should the Iranian state divert government resources to pay for free college educations for a group that decided to take a free ride on the blood of other Iranians? If you don't believe in fighting to defend your homeland, that's fine, just don't gripe if you're not very popular when the dust settles.

Unfortunately when you combine cursory knowledge and a lot of hearsays then you get a comment like that of dear Azr@el. I recommend a little "independent investigation of truth" (one of the main principles of the Baha'i Faith) re the Baha'i Faith. Peace!

I guess there are no more bahai cemeteries and bahai holy places left to be destryoed by agents of Islamic Republic. There are no more bahais to be kicked out of work or school so they are after arresting innocent bahai. Yet another shamefull chapter in book of Islamic Republic of Iran.

There are hundreds of thousands of B'hais in the Islamic Iranian Republic. They are tolerated as many guru cults are in Iran; sufis, etc.. In their case a certain amount of caution is exercised considering they are a security risk; Many b'hais sided with MKO and saddam's invasion force during the war of sacred defense. This is not to say or even imply that all are traitors, but the government in Teh'ran tends to side on paranoia when it comes to state security; thus a minority of questionable loyalty will not be highly represented in the state bureaucracy. And as far as the scholarship issue, these are apportioned on the basis of a formula which tends to favor the children and relatives of war veterans and as you may already have suspected the b'hai minority choose to engage in extreme acts of draft dodging that resulted in their numbers being dis-proportionally lower in the ranks. Note the official religious minorities in Iran were proportionally overrepresented in the ranks and in receipts of battle honors; Armenians, Khladeans, etc.. I haven't heard of any acts of discriminations against these segments of the Iranian cultural tapestry. You sow what you reap, eh?

more than "barred from obtaining university scholarships"

The Islamic Republic of Iran has for more than 25 years blocked the 300,000-member Bahá’í community from higher education, refusing young Bahá’ís entry into university and college.
The government has also sought to close down Bahá’í efforts to establish their own institutions of higher learning.

It is a religious law of Baha'is to abstain from partisan political activity.

It is also Baha'i law to obey the laws of the land.

These arrests, therefore, are demonstrably unjust and are blatant acts of religious persecution.

They deserve the most severe condemnation from the international community.

These peaceful, law-abiding, non political people should be released immediately.


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