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IRAN: Court sentences leaders of Bahai faith to 20 years in prison


Seven leaders of the Bahai community in Iran were sentenced to 20 years in prison on charges of spying for foreign nations, cooperation with Israel and undermining Islam, according to Bahai representatives in the United States and France. All those accused have denied the charges.

The Bahai leaders have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison since 2008. The Baha'i World News Service reported:

"If this news proves to be accurate, it represents a deeply shocking outcome to the case of these innocent and harmless people," declared Bani Dugal, who represents the Baha'i faith in contacts with the United Nations, in a statement.

 The statement identified the detainees as two women, Fariba Kamalabadi and Mahvash Sabet, and five men: Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Vahid Tizfahm.
They "were all members of a national-level group that helped see to the minimum needs of Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community, the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority," the statement said.

The sentencing has been met with an outcry from world leaders and human rights advocacy groups. The president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, called the sentences "a shocking signal and an immense disappointment."  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran have all released statements condemning the sentencing.

Last year The Times reported on Southern California's Bahai community, and its efforts to support their prosecuted co-religionists in Iran.  The Bahai Faith, was founded a century and a half ago in Iran by the Persian nobleman Bahá’u’lláh, and preaches a message of unity among all religions. Baha'i followers have long been subject to prosecution in their home country, where their assertion that Bahá’u’lláh is a prophet is viewed as apostasy against Islam.  Read more about the Bahai faith here.

-- Daniel Siegal

Photo: The seven Bahai prisoners, photographed several months before their arrest. Credit: Bahai World News Service

Comments () | Archives (11)

Internet is wonderful. Anyone can say anything, here is one such claim : "about 25,000 Jews live in Iran without any significant problems" .. Wow !! where have you been, my friend, for the past thirty years ?? LA is home to thousands of Iranian Jews .. talk to them if you really want to know. They will tell you of arbitrary arrests, shake-downs, intimidations, and prison sentences for no good reason, except to extort money. The Armenians will tell you their own stories of "persecutions".. yes, these are supposedly protected by the law .. go see how much protection they enjoy ?
Baha'is have been killed and their properties stolen for 167 years. That is a fact. Islam claims to be the Final Religion of God. That is False. That too is a fact. Just look at them : A religion that cuts off a woman’s' nose because she left an abusive husband, a religion that Condemns you to death if you decide to not follow your Father's religion of Islam ( seems more like a gang to me !! ) while openly trying to recruit even more people, a religion that is so backward that any country that adopts it becomes a model for intolerance, injustice, inequity and murder ( Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan , etc, etc ) ... What is the point of Religion if by following it, you simply become a worse Human Being and a brutal society ??
I am all for throwing out Religion all together, starting with Islam .. it ain't worth the trouble !!!

PS. the Baha'i Prison sentences in Iran are simple to resolve . Have an 9 member International Tribunal go to Iran ( 9 tickets = $40000, salary : $100K, 30 days hotel : $100K = total : $240K ) and examine the evidence. If found guilty, get the bill paid by the Baha'is. If found innocent, have the Islamic Republic pick up the tab, AND add a $100,000,000 Penalty for gross violation of Human Rights !! )

"Everyone assumes these religious leaders were not working for an intelligence agency. How do they know? Does everything that happens in a foreign court have to be wrong?"

Here is what is wrong: The seven Baha'is had extremely limited access to counsel, yet even with that limited access, their attorney Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi stated "I have read their case file page by page and did not find anything proving the accusations, nor did I find any document that could prove the claims of the prosecutor." In short, the court provided not one shred of evidence for any of the charges of criminality, in spite of the Iranian law requiring that detainees be quickly and formally charged with crimes. The seven Baha'is waited nine months before they heard why they were arrested and detained. According to Iranian law, detainees who have been charged have the right to seek bail and be released pending trial, but the seven have been denied bail in spite of numerous requests. Since 1979, the Baha'is of Iran have been the subjects of systematic persecution: over 200 Baha'is were killed, 1,000 imprisoned, barred from higher education, properties confiscated, incitement to hatred in the media against which Baha'is have no means to respond, destruction of Baha'i cemeteries, demolition of Baha'i shrines and holy places, confiscation of pensions, acts of arson against Baha'i homes, and much more.

Everything in a foreign court or any court need not be wrong, but nearly everything having to do with the courts and the Baha'is in Iran is unjust and clearly wrong.

I took a class at Depaul University under one of the most prominent Baha'i's in Chicago, and he was NOT SOME OPEN MINDED SAINT, as the comments seem to apply. He was pretentious, convinced he had the only correct religion, and showed in real life none of what he preached. Religion is religion, filled with sheep who refuse to think for themselves... and a few good people who can find no better impulses for their humanitarian impulses. IRAN, as has been pointed out, believes in religious freedom. Everyone assumes these religious leaders were not working for an intelligence agency. How do they know? Does everything that happens in a foreign court have to be wrong?

ive enjoyed reading the comments (aug11-aug12-1101am)
i saw quite a good advert tonight,while reading bits here and there
talking, muslim dolls.may- be some could be made that can teach the bahai faith, or is that also against islam what do they do give it 20 years in the dolls house.
to continue to use these poor people in the way they have been and will continue to be shows just how rabid the dog has become.

Actually, Iran protects the rights of Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians assiduously. For example, about 25,000 Jews live in Iran without any significant problems. But, somehow, they consider Baha'i people as "infidels." That is the problem with religion, in general. When "God" can talk to you, logic becomes irrelevant. That is why religion has been one of the most destructive forces in history.

Anonyme1543 - please take Indonesia off your 'list' as an official 'death sentance' fatwa was issued earlier this year against the two elderly retired caretakers of the last remaining synagogue in Indonesia for the 23 Jewish families there. The propety is valuable and they live in a ' secluded compound'. The two were Persian in origin, been there since before WWII.
Take Turkey off the list, too. They bombed the synagogues in Turkey before the recent flotilla incident. Jews are banned or excluded from other sub-saharan African Moslem nations. Christians in Nigeria are persecuted. I think that upon closer examination Michael's statement is mostly true and well founded on actual Islamic teachings and practices today.
The whole story about how Moslems got along with Christians and Jews in Cordoba Spain is a lot of propaganda rubbish!! Both were subjugated (dhimmi), had to pay a Jew Tax (zachat) and got nothing in return for paying it except contempt and the lash. Christians, too. Maimonides fled Cordoba, Spain from these 'tolerant' Moslems.
Don't let your own peacable disposition interfer with seeing reality. You are making a common mistake by projecting seeing the world as you are rather than as it is.

MICHAEL, TURKEY IS ONE (sorry about caps). Indonesia is another. Malaysia is another. Mali, Senegal, and many other Muslim-majority states of sub-saharan Africa. The list goes on and one...

Your sweeping generalization is just that: an emotional and illogical statement.

By the way, I am a Baha'i.

Of all the organized religions I've had exposure to, the Bahai faith is one of my favorites, if not my favorite. The Bahai people I've met are most decidedly not anti any other religion. Religious tolerance is a core principal of the Bahai faith. It's the one organized religion I can think of where it's not necessary to stop being a member of your birth religion in order to become Bahai. Not only is practicing other religions allowed, it's encouraged! Islam teaches there have been a succession of prophets through the ages. What is wrong with teaching one came after Mohammad?

Kevin -

This is what radical islam destroys everything

This is really sad , Its a big and sad step for the people who are working for peace and not at all harmful for anybody. Baha'i s are too good , they should not be treated like this, at least a fair chance out of Iran should b given to them.


Name me one country with an Isalmic majority which protects minority rights of its citizens... This is the problem with Islam, namely a pronounced sense of chauvinism. Pure and simple.


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