Sen's daily

December 15, 2014

Neda Farsatipour and Farahnaz Moqadam begin their prison sentences


HRANA, December 14, 2014.

On December 10, Mrs. Farahnaz Moqadam (فرحناز مقدم) responded to a summons to the Revolutionary Court in Urumiyyeh (Urmia) and was taken to the city’s central prison to begin serving her three-year sentence. On December 4, her husband Fardin Aghsani (فردین اغصانی) began serving his own three-year sentence.

Neda Farsatipour (ندا فرصتی‌پور), another Bahai from Urumiyyeh, also began her sentence in the past week. She has been sentenced to 6 months in prison. In all, six Bahais have begun serving their sentences in recent weeks.

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December 11, 2014

Peyman Kashfi released from prison


HRANA, December 11, 2014.

Peyman Kashfi Nejafabadi (پیمان کشفی نجف‌آبادی), a Baha’i prisoner of conscience from Tehran who has served a four-year sentence in Evin and Raja`i Shahr prisons, has been released at the end of his sentence. He was summoned and arrested in Tehran on October 19, 2009, and held incommunicado in section 209 of Evin Prison for two months. He was later granted bail. In July 2010, Judge Muhammad Maqiseh (محمد مقیسه), presiding over branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, sentenced him to 4 years in prison on a charge of being part of an illegal assembly. When the written sentence was handed down, the charges had been changed to establishing a group seeking to disturb security. [This means that he was sentenced on a charge that he was not told about, and given no chance to see the evidence or provide a defence ~Sen] This sentence was upheld by the review court. He began his sentence on February 14, 2011, first in Evin prison and then, from August 5, 2012, in block 12 at Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, just west of Tehran, where most of the Yaran (Baha’i national facilitators), and a number of teachers from the Bahai Open University are also held.

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Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments warns against Baha’i threat

Daily News Egypt, December 11, 2014.

Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments organised a workshop on Wednesday and Thursday to raise awareness amongst imams on the “growing dangers of the spread of Baha’ism,” the Ministry said. According to the Ministry, this workshop comes in the context of “maintaining the Islamic constants and foundations in the face of deviant thoughts that destroy the minds of young people”.

The Baha’i faith is not recognised as a “heavenly religion,” in the Egyptian Constitution as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are. Article 64 – the Constitution’s “freedom of belief” article – dictates that “practicing rituals and establishing places of worship for the followers of heavenly religions is organised by law”- an article that activists claim marginalises groups like the Baha’i.

The workshop, held in Abasseya’s Al-Nour Mosque, is also intended to maintain “national security and stability” as Baha’i thought “threatens Islam specifically and Egyptian society in general,” according to the Ministry. The workshop also aims to teach young imams how to respond to Baha’i thoughts and arguments.

The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion originating in 19th century Persia. Recent estimates suggest there may be between 500-3,000 Baha’is living in Egypt. On a number of occasions, including 2009 and 2011, Baha’is in Sohag were attacked and their homes were burned.

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December 8, 2014

5-year sentence of Hassan Momtazi confirmed

Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), December 9, 2014.

Hassan Momtazi (حسن ممتازی) reports, on December 8, that he has heard via his lawyer that the review court has confirmed his five-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE). He was one of ten Bahais associated with the BIHE who were heard at the Public Prosecutor’s office in Tehran on March 12, 2013. His sentence was handed down in Tehran Revolutionary Court branch 28 by Judge Maqiseh (مقیسه) on February 25, 2014, but was not communicated to his lawyer until April 2.

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December 7, 2014

Bahai home and business searched in Rasht

HRANA, December 7, 2014.

On the morning of November 17, one agent from the Ministry of Intelligence, accompanied by two staff members from the Revolutionary Court pretended that they were from the Post Office, to enter a Bahai home in Rasht. The house is home to four Bahais: Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی), Peyman Yazdani (پیمان یزدانی), Navid Yazdani (نوید یزدانی) and Nima Najafai (نیما نجفی). The intruders had a “search warrant” which proved to be a handwritten note without a judicial seal from the Court. The searched the house thoroughly and seized all the books, CDs, flash drives and any paper with handwriting on it. They then required the four Bahais to accompany them to their place of work, although the search warrant only referred to the home address. The business was searched, and items that included cutsomers’ appliances waiting to be repaired were seized. The officers then went to those non-Bahai customers whose contact information had been recorded, and interrogated them.

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December 6, 2014

Detention and questioning of a Bahai girl in Tabriz

Filed under: Bahai rights,Vigilantes, mobs, arsonists etc — Sen @ 09:38

HRANA, December 6, 2014.

On December 4, unidentified individuals claiming to represent the “Basij” voluntary militia forced a 19-year-old Bahai girl, Ilka Mithaqi (الکا میثاقی) to get into a car, on a street in Tabriz, and took her for a ride around the streets lasting several hours, during which time they questioned her. She was then released, in another part of the city. Ms. Mithaqi has previously been harassed by agents from other government agencies. An informed source said that this is the first time that a Bahai in Tabriz has been abducted and interrogated in this irregular fashion.

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December 4, 2014

Fardin Aghsani begins 3-year sentence


Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), December 4, 2014.

Fardin Aghsani (فردین اغصانی), a Bahai from Urumiyyeh (Urmia) who was taken prisoner during the Iran-Iraq war, and held in Iraq for two and a half years, reported to the central prison in Urumiyyeh today to begin serving a 3-year sentence. His wife Farahnaz Moqadam (فرحناز مقدم), who has also been sentenced to three years in prison, is expected to begin her sentence in the next few days. The couple were among seven Bahais in Urumiyyeh who, in July this year, were given sentences ranging from six months to six years for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the Islamic Republic through hosting regular teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors and attracting Muslims. They were also charged with assembly and collusion in the form of membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community).

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December 3, 2014

Friday Prayer Leader in Rafsanjan proposes expelling all Bahais


FARS news agency, December 2, 2914.

In a December 2 meeting with provincial officials, the Friday Prayer leader of Rafsanjan, Hojjat-al-Islam Abbas Ramadanipour (حجت‌الاسلام عباس رمضانی‌پور) said that there were a number of “sects” in the province, and because people were ignorant they were able to live and work among ordinary people, without being recognized. He said that a number of Jews were also working in the city bazaar, but the difference between them and the Bahais was, that the Bahais are “unclean.” After outlining the history of the Shaykhi, Babi and Bahai religions, and claiming that the latter had Russian support, he repeated that the Bahais are “unclean” and business dealings with them are religiously forbidden (haram), and said “this sect has established many activities and programmes in our city, and the people’s legitimate demand that they should not be in the city should be implemented.”

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December 1, 2014

Adib Sho`a`i begins a 6-month sentence in Mashhad

Filed under: Bahai rights — Sen @ 01:40


HRANA, November 30, 2014.

Adib Sho`a`i has reported to Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad to begin serving his six-month sentence. He was arrested in his home on October 9, 2012, and released on bail on November 11 that year. He is one of four Bahais arrested at that time in Mashhad, who were charged with membership of the Bahai organisation, participation in illegal Bahai activities, and propaganda in favour of the Bahais and against the regime of the Islamic Republic. He was at first sentenced to 18 months in prison but in February 2014 this was reduced to 6 months by the review court.

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Soheila Aqdasi and Noushin Mithaqi begin 6-month sentences

HRANA, December 1, 2014.

On November 30th, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence arrested Noushin Mithaqi (نوشین میثاقی) and Soheila Aqdasi (سهیلا اقدسی), Bahai women living in Urumiyyeh (Urmia), in Iran’s Azerbaijan province, and took them to Urumiyyeh prison to begin their 6-month sentences. Ms. Mithaqi’s name has also been reported as Noushin Aqdasi (نوشین اقدسی). They were accused of “propaganda against the regime.” Not long ago they received telephone calls saying they should report to the prison, but did not do so as no official summons followed. They are among seven Bahais in Urumiyyeh who were sentenced early in July this year to terms ranging from six months to six years, on charges that included teaching the Bahai Faith, propaganda against the Islamic Republic, hosting teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors, attracting Muslims, membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community).

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November 26, 2014

Fariba Kamalabadi denied leave to attend daughter’s wedding


HRANA, November 25, 2014.

Fariba Kamalabadi (فریبا کمال آبادی ) one of the seven “Yaran” (National facilitators for the Bahai community) who are serving twenty-year prison sentences as prisoners of conscience, has been denied leave from prison to attend the wedding of her daughter. She is held in Evin prison in Tehran, and has now been imprisoned for seven years without any furlough. The prison authorities and the judicial authorities agreed to give her leave for the wedding, but state security officials not only prevented this, they also broke the custom of the prison service by refusing to allow Mrs. Kalamabadi to meet with her daughter, or for the wedding to be held in the prison.

It is said that God does not overlook the deeds of any oppressor. ٌ
We congratulate Mrs. Kamalabadi on the forthcoming marriage of her daughter.

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November 24, 2014

Home raids and closures in Najafabad and Vila Shahr

HRANA, November 24, 2014.

[Corrected, Dec. 4: the Vila Shahr in this report is not in Mazandaran, but a few kilomters from Najafabad.]

On November 22, agents in plain clothes staged simultaneous raids on the homes of several Bahais in the city of Najafabad, in Iran’s Isfahan province, and the nearby town of Vila Shahr. They seized laptops, computers, and religious books, images and CDs. They also went to a mushroom-growing facility in Vila Shahr, belonging to one of the Bahais there, Mr. Haqiri(حقیری), where they broke some windows, turned off the heaters, and sealed the doors. The business provided work for a number of Bahais. A message was left on the door, saying it had been closed because of unsanitary conditions. Agents also went to the home of Mr. Piruzmandi (پیروزمندی) in Vila Shahr and seized leather bags, leather, and leather-working tools. No reason was given for that action.

HRANA also reports that two more Bahai-owned shops in Nashtarud have been closed by authorities, because they were closed on Muharram 1 and 2 this year (this year, for the last time, Bahais in Iran celebrated the Births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah on these days. Calendar changes mean that it will be many years before the Bahai Holy Days again fall in the first days of Muharram). The officers said that the instructions to close these businesses came “from elswhere” and that local authorities had objected, but were told to close the Bahai-run businesses. The failure to open the shops on Muharram 1 and 2 is treated as a breach of local commerce laws, although those laws allow every trade to close for 15 days during the year, in addition to Fridays.

The two closures in Vila Shahr, and two more in Nashtarud, in addition to the four previous closures reported in that town, and the closures of 79 Bahai-run businesses in the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft, on October 25, mean that close to 90 Bahai-run business have been closed in the space of four weeks, and at least as many Bahai households have lost their means of livelihood.

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===

November 22, 2014

Indian Bahais continue process of gaining minority status

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 20:14
Tags: , , , ,

Indian Express, November 22, 2014.

On August 22, delegations representing the Bahais and Kashmiri Pandits met the Minority Affairs Minister of India, Mrs. Najma Heptullah, in New Delhi to ask that they be accorded minority status, which has been so far given to Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains. Following that meeting, the Minister referred the matter to the National Commission for Minorities. The matter was taken up by the NCM in several meetings in September and October, but the Commission felt that it did not have enough data on the socio-economic condition of the community to make a concrete recommendation. “We had asked for more information from the community and they did submit some … But, that was not enough for the commission,” said a source in the NCM. It is now up to the Ministry of Minority Affairs to take a call.

A spokesperson for the Bahai community, meanwhile, maintains that minority status is a matter of recognition, and the community is not looking for scholarships and other support from the government. “The Bahai community does not accept money from others. That is why we do not charge an entry fee at Lotus Temple where we get 16,000 visitors a day… Even Jains [who were granted this status in January 2014]] did not require the government support but they were granted the status,” said Nilakshi Rajkhowa, an official at the office of public affairs in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais.

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/bahais-demand-minority-status/#sthash.6Uzsx8i9.dpuf

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One Bahai arrested in Hamadan

HRANA, November 21, 2014.

On the morning of November 20, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence in Hamadan arrested Atta Rajabi (عطاء رجبی), in his home. His present whereabouts are unknown.

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November 19, 2014

Four Bahai shops closed in Nashtarud, more closures expected


HRANA, November 18, 2014.

Early in the morning of November 18, the local officials who supervise public places closed four Bahai-run shops in Nashtarud, a district centre on Iran’s Caspian coast. There was no written explanation or prior notice. The four businesses were owned by two Bahais, Mr. Abu-Alfazli (ابوالفضلی) and Mr. Mohsennezhad (محسن‌نژاد). A witness said that the agents told him that businesses belonging to another 16 Bahais were to be closed during the day, and that they had been to close them, but the owners were already present and demanded that the officials should present written orders. Mr. Mohsennezhad and Mr. Abu-Alfazli had not yet arrived to open their shops.

The closures of Bahai businesses in Nashtarud follow the closures of 79 Bahai-run businesses in the southern region of Kerman, Rafsanjan, and Jiroft, on October 25.

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November 17, 2014

Faran Hessami gets 3-day leave

Filed under: Bahai rights,prisoners — Sen @ 23:50


Campaign to stop harassment of Bahais (facebook), November 17, 2014.

Faran Hessami ( فاران حسامی ), who is serving a four-year sentence for educational activities with the Bahai Open University (BIHE), has been granted a 3-day furlough. She began serving her sentence on July 15, 2012. Her husband Kamran Rahimiyan (کامران رحیمیان) is also serving a four-year sentence for educational activities, in Raja’i Shahr prison. The couple have a son, Artin, who is now four years old. On September 10, 2014, it was reported that the brothers Kamran and Kayvan Rahimiyan and Faran Hessami had been refused prison furlough unless they recant their Bahai beliefs and promise not to teach students at the Open University. The report does not state that this condition has been rescinded.

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Two Bahais sentenced in Yazd for facebook postings


HRANA, November 17, 2014.

Ms. Tannaz Mohammedi and Mr. Iraj Lohrasb (طناز محمدی و ایرج لهراسب), who were arrested in their homes in Yazd on June 29, 2014, have been sentenced by the revolutionary court in Yazd, after more than four months in detention. Ms. Mohammedi was sentenced to one year in prison, and Mr. Lohrasb to two years. They were charged with reporting human rights violations using the facebook network.

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November 16, 2014

Arson destroys Bahai-owned houses in rural Hamadan

HRANA, November 16, 2014.

On November 3, which coincided with the day of Ashura on Muharram 10, a mob gathered at a cottage belonging to the Hemmati (همتی) family in the mountain village of Auj Tappeh (اوج تپه), which lies to the south of Qazvin. The cottage is used only seasonally, in relation to agricultural activities. The mob broke the windows, and spread oil on a balcony and in the yard, and set fire to the house, destroying it. When the fire had died down, they wrote anti-Bahai slogans on the walls [which were presumably of stone ~Sen], and departed.

On November 7, in the small town of Amzajerd (امزاجرد), which lies about 20km north of the city of Hamadan, and well south of Auj Tappeh, a house and agricultural buildings belonging to the Aqdasi (اقدسی) family were destroyed by arson. Many possessions, furnishing, and documents were destroyed, along with agricultural materials and some cash. A report by the fire and security services has found that the fire was caused by arson. The family were in Hamadan city at the time of the fire.

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November 14, 2014

Mahna Samandari and Narges Khatounbarqi buried in Miandoab

HRANA, November 15, 2014.

Mahna Samandari (مهنا سمندری) and Narges Khatounbarqi (نرگس خاتون برقی), two Bahais from Tabriz whose burial in the city has been blocked because of their religious beliefs, have been taken to Miandoab by local officials and buried in the Bahai cemetery there, without informing the families of the deceased. The burial took place on November 13. Mahna’s body had been held in a mortuary in Tabriz for 24 days, while the body of Mrs. Khatounbarqi had been held for 5 days. Bahai burials in Tabriz have been limited since early this year, and officials have been burying the bodies in Miandoab and Urmia (Urumiyyeh) without informing the families.

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House of Justice announces purchase of a property in Haifa

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 00:05
Tags: , ,

Universal House of Justice, November 12, 2014.

The Universal House of Justice has announced the purchase of a major property adjacent to the main terrace of the Shrine of the Bab, at the Bahai World Centre in Haifa, Israel. The building, a three-story school just west of the Shrine, stands on over 2,600 square metres of land (0.64 acres). It has been purchased from the Haifa Municipal government. The text of the announcement in in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog. ~Sen

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November 12, 2014

Bahais join demonstration in support of Nasrin Sotoudeh


HRANA, November 11, 2014.

On November 10, Bahai students who have been excluded from tertiary education joined the Iranian civil rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh (نسرین ستوده) in her three-week-old demonstration in front of the Bar Association building in Tehran. She is claiming the right to be reinstated by the Bar Association as a practicing lawyer, having been excluded from practicing for three years. She has been joined by a number of human rights activists, including the prominent Iranian film director Mohammad Nourizad. Mr. Nourizad reported on his face book page that a group of Bahai students who have been excluded from tertiary education had joined the protest.

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November 11, 2014

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah begins one-year sentence in Shiraz


HRANA, November 11, 2014.

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ), a Bahai from Shiraz, reported to Adel-Abad prison on November 11, to begin serving a one-year sentence. He was arrested during a raid on his home on December 12, 2012, and taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Detention Facility 100 in Shiraz. He was held for 186 days without trial, before being freed on bail. He was later sentenced to one year in prison for “propaganda against the regime,” and the review court confirmed this sentence on May 22, 2014.

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November 9, 2014

Another Bahai denied burial in Tabriz

HRANA, November 9, 2014.

The family of Narges Khatounbarqi (نرگس خاتون برقی), an 85-year old Bahai who died in her home on November 7, have been barred from burying her in the general cemetery in Tabriz, the ‘Valley of Mercy’ cemetery. The family took Mrs. Khatounbarqi’s body to the cemetery on the day after her death, but the officials at the cemetery balked because she was a Bahai, saying she could only be buried there in accordance with Muslim rites. Otherwise, the body would be kept in the mortuary until Tuesday (November 11), and then would be taken for burial in Miandoab, along with the body of twelve-year-old Mahna Samandari (مهنا سمندری), which has been held in the mortuary for the past three weeks. The officials justified their decision first by reference to regulations and then on the basis of Islamic law and the wishes of the Shiahs. Yet two sisters of the deceased are Shiah Muslims, and they requested that their sister be buried in the “Valley of Mercy’ cemetery.

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November 8, 2014

Bahai student expelled in Miandoab

Jabari-Adhar
Campaign to stop harassment of Bahai citizens (facebook), November 9, 2014,

On October 7, a Bahai student whose name is variously given as Faran or Farab Jabari Adhar (فاراب( فاران) جباری آذر) was told verbally that he had been expelled from the Miandoab campus of the Payam-e Nour University because of his Bahai beliefs. He had completed four semesters of a degree in hydraulic and soil engineering. His family’s efforts to obtain written evidence of his expulsion have been fruitless, although there was a verbal announcement that his expulsion was on account of his being a Bahai.

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November 6, 2014

Indonesia to issue ID cards for Bahais and other minorities,

Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post, November 6, 2014.

Following the July announcement of Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minster Lukman Hakim Saifuddin that “Baha’i is a religion, not a sect,” the Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said on Thursday that he intended to allow the followers of religions not formally recognized by the state to leave the religion field on their identity cards blank. Previously, Baha’is and followers of local and tribal beliefs had to enter one of Indonesia’s six recognized faiths if they wanted to receive an ID card. Indonesia recognizes only Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism. The Home Affairs Minister also said he will summon regional leaders whose administrations continue to ignore cases of injustice against people from minority faiths, and will work with Police authorities to seek a permanent end to religious discrimination. He had previously called for the scrapping of local ordinances used to justify discrimination against minority groups.

“Indonesia is not a country based on any one religion. It is a country that is founded on the 1945 Constitution, which recognizes and protects all faiths,” Tjahjo said during a meeting with representatives of minority groups, including the Bahais, at his office in Central Jakarta, on Wednesday. Speaking after the meeting, Sheila Soraya from the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly said she was convinced that Baha’is as well as members of religious minorities in the country could soon see an easing of their plight. “He [Tjahjo] was very attentive in listening to our stories. He was not defensive. That’s the most important thing,” Sheila told The Jakarta Post. She hopes that the new government will soon guarantee the civil rights of members of the Baha’i community, who still struggle to access basic social services.

“Birth certificates register our children as having been born out of wedlock. It only mentions the name of the mother and not the father. This has put us in a difficult situation when we have to register our children at school,” Sheila said.

Tjahjo’s position that the “religion” section may be left blank is a workaround that could allow practitioners of minority faiths to receive documentation without having to lie about their beliefs. But if Lukman and Tjahjo continue to advocate a looser policy on religious recognition, they could be on a collision course with some of Indonesia’s powerful Sunni Muslim organizations. Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) deputy secretary Amirsyah Tambunan has previously said that the Baha’i should not be granted official status, and few of the archipelago’s Islamic scholars have given any indication that they would accept recognition of the Ahmadiyah, whose Indonesian followers have been repeatedly subject to discrimination and, on occasion, murder by rampaging mobs. [The Shiah Muslims, not mentioned here, also suffer discrimination ~Sen]

A report in Kompas said that the Director General of Civil Registrations at the Home Affairs Ministry had opened discussions with the MUI and the country’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, on the issue of official recognition for other religions.

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November 4, 2014

Sentence of Susan Tabyaniyan confirmed


HRANA, November 5, 2014.

The review court has confirmed the sentence of Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan who was arrested on May 31, 2014. She was sentenced to one year in prison and the confiscation of all possessions connected to the Bahai Faith by Judge Amiri, sitting in Bench 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Semnan.

Susan Tabyaniyan (سوسن تبیانیان), a Bahai from Semnan who was arrested on May 31, 2014, has been sentenced to one year in prison. Her trial took place on August 7. After her arrest she was held for 45 days before being released on bail.

Mrs. Tabyaniyan had a shop in Semnan until her arrest in April, 2009. In May 2010 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of a Bahai organisation. After serving almost 14 months in Evin prison (some of them in the methadone user’s wing), she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27, 2011. She was rearrested on May 31, 2014, and released on bail 6 weeks later.

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November 3, 2014

Amir Maboudi begins 6-month sentence in Urumiyyeh

HRANA, November 2, 2014.

Mr. Amir Maboudi (امیر معبودی) began serving a 6-month prison sentence in Urumiyyeh (Urmia) in Iran’s Azerbaijan province, on October 9. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime in the form of propagating the Bahai Faith.” Instead of summoning him to the prison to begin his sentence, the authorities informed the guarantor of his bail that he must go to prison. Mr. Maboudi and six other Bahais were sentenced in July this year, to terms ranging from six months to six years. Mr. Fardin A`za’i (Aghsani) and Mrs. Farahnaz Moqadam and Ms. Gisou Sheikh-Hasan-Abadi (فردین اعضایی (اغصانی)، فرحناز مقدم و گیسو شیخ‌حسن‌آبادی) were sentenced to six years in prison. They were sentenced to one year for teaching the Bahai Faith and propaganda against the Islamic Republic through hosting regular teaching classes in their homes, teaching minors and attracting Muslims, and to another five years for assembly and collusion in the form of membership of a Bahai Assembly, and having links to the Universal House of Justice (the elected body that heads the international Bahai community). Another four Bahais, including Mr. Maboudi, were sentenced to six months in prison.

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November 2, 2014

No word of a Bahai arrested 11 days ago in Hamadan

HRANA, November 2, 2014.

Hamid Azizi (حمید عزیزی), a Bahai from Hamadan, was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence who came to his home on October 21. They searched his home for several hours and seized a computer, a laptop computer, and Bahai books and pamphlets. Mr. Azizi was taken away, and there has been no news since as to his condition and where he is being held, although his family has made enquiries at the offices of the Ministry of Intelligence. His home has been searched again during his absence. His son was summoned from school to go to the Ministry of Intelligence, where he was interrogated, and his wife and brother have also been summoned and interrogated.

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November 1, 2014

Deceased Bahai girl denied burial in Tabriz

ARAM, 1 November, 2014.

Over a week has passed since twelve-year-old Mahna Samandari died from an illness, on October 21, but her parents have not been allowed to bury her. Mahna’s parents, who suffer from physical handicaps, are not only grieving the loss of their daughter but are devastated by “regulations” that deny them the right to bury their child in the local cemetery of Tabriz. In a Persian report, HRANA attributes the refusal to pressure exerted by the Ministry of Intelligence. After her death in hospital, her parents wanted to take the body home for the ritual washing and Bahai prayers, but when the ambulance driver heard that she was a Bahai, he stopped the vehicle and insisted that she could only be taken to the Wadi Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz [where Bahai rites would be impossible ~ Sen]. Eventually he relented and took the body to her parents’ home. After the body had been washed and wrapped in a shroud, and the prayer for the dead read, in accordance with Bahai rites, it was taken to Wadi Rahmat cemetery [the Bahai cemetery in Tabriz having been confiscated, and barred to Bahais – Sen] and placed in the mortuary, where it remains.

Before the Islamic revolution the Bahai community in Tabriz acquired a cemetery that was later confiscated by government authorities. The community was able to bury their dead in the cemetery until August 2011, when the authorities announced that they no longer allow Bahai interments. In the past three years at least twenty Bahais have been denied burial in this cemetery. As an alternative, authorities are suggesting a burial ground in Urumia or Miandoab, located more than one hour from Tabriz. Common sense and Bahai religious laws prohibit remote burial grounds, and this is especially impractical for the Samandaris, who are physically disabled.

Mahna suffered from a form of paralysis that impaired the use of her hands. Despite her handicap, she pursued her passion for art and painted with her mouth. A gifted artist with determination, Mahna obtained the first prize in art in a national competition.

October 27, 2014

Fifty businesses closed down following Bahai Holy Day observances (updated)

HRANA, October 27, 2014.

Over fifty Bahai-run businesses in Iran were shut down on October 26, in Bandar Abbas, Kerman, Rajsanjan, and Jiroft (the city formerly known as Sabzevaran). These cities all lie in the South-east of Iran. October 25 and 26 this year corresponded to the first and second day of Muharram in the Islamic lunar calendar — days on which Bahais in the Islamic world celebrated the births of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Those Bahais who were able would have closed their businesses for these Holy Days. Bahais in the rest of the world have used dates in the Gregorian calendar for these Holy days. However the international head of the Bahai community (the Universal House of Justice) announced on July 10, 2014, that from 2015 these Holy Days will be celebrated “on the first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Ruz.” These dates fall between mid-October and mid-November. [These changes are discussed on my Bahai Studies blog ~ Sen]

Updated, November 2: In an interview with Diane Ala’i, Radio Farda links the current closures to several cases of arson against Bahai businesses in Rafsanjan, and reports that some of the Bahais in Rafsanjan recently received letters stating that they are forbidden to have any contact with Muslims.

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October 22, 2014

Farhad Eqbali transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison


HRANA, October 21, 2014.

Farhad Eqbali ( فرهاد اقبالی ), a Bahai prisoner of conscience from Gorgan, has been transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran, where he is currently in the quarantine unit. Mr. Eqbali was one of about twenty Bahais, and some Muslims accused of associating with Bahais, who were arrested in Gorgan in November, 2012. His 5-year sentence was confirmed by the court of review on August 27, and he began his sentence in Gorgan on the same day. At some stage he was transferred to Evin prison, in Tehran, and now to Raja’i Shahr prison.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

Jamaleddin Khanjani and Ali Salanpour transferred for medical treatment

HRANA, October 21, 2014.

As previously reported, on September 27, 2014, Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی), an 81-year old Bahai prisoner of conscience aged 81, and Ali Salanpour (علی سلان‌پور), another prisoner of conscience, were transferred to a medical centre outside Raj’i Shahr prison but returned to prison without treatment, apparently because officials demanded money from them. It is now reported that on October 20 they were both transferred to medical centres outside the prison. Mr. Khanjani, one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran), suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. Mr. Salanpour has problems with his neck, back and testicles due to severe torture in prison.

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Four Bahais free on bail in Shiraz

Fariba Kamalabadi (public figure facebook page), October 21, 2014.

Mr. Farhad Sarafraz (فرهاد سرافراز), Mr. Sa`id `Ebadi (سعید عابدی), Mr. Shahram Mansour ( شهرام منصور) and Mr. Adib Haqqpazhouh (ادیب حق پژوه) were freed on bail on October 21. They are the last of the recent detainees to be released. Adib Haqqpazhouh and Sa`id `Ebadi were among those arrested on August 5. Shahram Mansour and Farhad Sarafraz were detained in Shiraz on September 1.

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October 17, 2014

Judiciary moves to close the file on the killing of Ataollah Rezvani


HRANA, October 17, 2014.

Thirteen months after the execution-style killing of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani ( عطاءالله رضوانی ), a well-known member of the Bahai community in Bandar Abbas (on August 24, 2013), the judicial authorities are pressing the Rezvani family to accept the ending of the investigation. On October 14, the Rezvani family and the lawyer handling this case were summoned to a Revolutionary Court in Bandar Abbas where Judge Emani, the investigating magistrate, told them that thus far no clues had been found regarding the circumstances of Mr. Rezvani’s murder, so the investigation could go no further. He recommended that the Rezvani family should accept compensation from public funds so that the case could be closed. Under Iranian law, if a body is found in a street or public place and the killer or killers cannot be found, the family are entitled to compensation from a public fund. The Rezvani family did not accept this proposal, and insisted that the murder should be investigated. The investigating magistrate responded that, if they had evidence that Mr. Rezvani was killed by one or more persons, they should make a complaint. Otherwise, he would not be able to pursue the matter. He also referred to one ‘Karim,’ the last person known to have seen Mr. Rezvani alive. Karim was an Afghan labourer who worked at the home of a Bahai family who were out of the country, and Mr. Rezvani used to check on their house in Bandar Abbas occasionally. On the night of the murder, he had gone there and had given a ride to Karim in his car. “Karim” had not been heard of for the past eleven months, but Judge Emani said that he had been intercepted by Iranian border guards while trying to get to Syria [Iran and Syria do not have a border ~ Sen] and had been sent to Afghanistan. This contradicts a recent statement made by Mr. Reza’i, the officer in charge of the file, who told the Rezvani family that Karim had been seen in Shiraz and would be arrested once a warrant had been issued. Judge Emani asked the Rezvani family to sign a statement that they had no complaint against Karim: the family refused.

The following day, October 15, the family received a letter from the Court asking that Koroush Rezvani, the son of the murdered man who is registered as the “complainant” in this case, should provide any evidence regarding the murder of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani to the court, within one week.

Postscript, October 19: A reader has pointed out that the file of an unsolved murder is not ‘closed’ when the investigation is ended. There is nobody assigned to further investigations, but should new evidence emerge even years later, a new attempt may be made to identify the murderers.

The initial report of the killing of Mr. Rezvani is on this blog here.

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October 12, 2014

Bahai youth sentenced in Shiraz


HRANA, October 10, 2014.

Farhud Yazdani (فرهود یزدانی), an 18-year-old Bahai living in Shiraz, has been sentenced to one year in prison, for participating in social networks used to plan a mass water-fight in Be`sat Park in Shiraz. His arrest had not previously been reported on Sen’s Daily. The background to this is the use of social networks, last July, to organise water fights in Be`sat Park and Aram Park in Shiraz, and in other cities in Iran. The photograph below is from an event in Tehran. The water fight in Aram Park was cancelled when the security forces threatened to disrupt it, but the event in Be`sat Park led to clashes with security forces.

Farhud Yazdani, according to a relative, was not an organizer of these events, but was one of those invited to join in. His home was searched and he was arrested on July 15. He was taken to the Ministry of Intelligence’s Facility 100 in Shiraz, where he was held until August 9, when he was transferred to Adel Abad prison. In the meantime his family had been seeking his release, and he was eventually released on bail, 10 days before his ‘trial.’ Judge Sadati (ساداتی ), who sits in Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court in Shiraz and is head of the Revolutionary Courts in Shiraz, issued a verbal finding condemning Mr. Yazdani to one year in prison. According to a relative, the Judge told Mr. Yazdani that, if the did not protest his treatment, he would be freed on bail after four months in prison. The relative felt that Mr. Yazdani was treated in this way only because he was a Bahai. [The report implies that other participants were not sentenced ~Sen]

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October 8, 2014

Passing of Dr. Kamran Ekbal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sen @ 10:01

Editorial, November 8, 2014.

I am very sorry to have to pass on this message from the family of Dr. Kamran Ekbal.

My dear husband and our beloved father, Dr. Kamran Ekbal, passed yesterday, 6.10.2014, after a prolonged struggle of more than eight years against his deadly disease to the Abha Kingdom and the realms high above. The disease devoured his body but his brains remained untouched and active almost till the last moment, allowing him to continue his scholarly works without interruption.

He will live everlasting in our thoughts and memories.

Huda Baghdadi-Ekbal and his three sons Basil Omid, Ramez Adib and Cyrus Navid

Dr. Kamran Ekbal was Director of the Section for Middle Eastern Studies at the Department of History, Ruhr University of Bochum (Germany), from 1979 till his retirement in April 2011. Born in Beirut 1946, he studied at the universities of Hamburg, Cambridge and Kiel, where he received his PhD. in Islamic and Iranian Studies in 1976 with a dissertation on the Russian-Persian War of 1826-1828. He taught Arabic at the University of Hamburg as well as Arabic and Persian at the University of Kiel and was visiting professor for extra-European history at the University of Essen. He has many publications on Iranian and Middle Eastern topics, as well as on Bahai themes and at the time of his death was editing the Tablets of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha to Muhammad Mustafa Baghdadi as well as Dr. Zia Baghdad’s memoirs of his travels.

Dr. Ekbal has made a considerable contribution to Bahai studies in several languages, notably by his willingness to look squarely at difficulties in the received understandings of historical and doctrinal questions, and by bringing an Arab and Arabic perspective to a field in which Persian perspectives have been more common. He was of course fluent in both languages, and made scholarly contributions to fields such as Qajar social and political history, and Arabic studies. He often co-authored or contributed to the work of other scholars, in the fields of Bahai history and the translation of Bahai texts. I can confirm his family’s words about his activity during his final illness, as he helped me in the last few months in confirming an error that had crept into the Persian text of A Traveller’s Narrative. He was capable, daring, accessible and helpful, and a precise and punctilious scholar.

I am sorry to say that I had no thought that his death might be imminent, and have not prepared a fitting obituary or survey of his published works. If the friends will contribute what they can through the comments section below, I will edit the information into a preliminary obituary.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

October 7, 2014

Detention orders of three Bahais in Mashhad extended


HRANA, October 6, 2014.

The temporary detention of three Bahais from Mashhad who have been held without trial since June 1 has been extended for another month. Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی), Dari Amri (دری امری) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی) were arrested in the home of May Khalusi, and were at first held in Ministry of Intelligence interrogation facilities in Mashhad. They were transferred to Vakilabad prison on August 2. Thus far the authorities have not given any specific reason for extending their detention. It would appear that Dari Amri and Shayan Tafazoli were initially arrested by accident, as there was no warrant for them, but after their arrest they were accused of “propaganda against the regime.”

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September 28, 2014

Jamaleddin Khanjani sent to hospital, returned without treatment

Filed under: Bahai rights,prisoners — Sen @ 16:26


HRANA, September 28, 2014.

Jamaleddin Khanjani (جمالدین خانجانی), aged 81, is one of seven Bahai ‘Yaran’ (national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) who were sentenced to 20 years in prison after their May 2008 arrest. He is imprisoned in block 12, the wing of Raja’i Shahr prison that holds prisoners of conscience, and suffers from diverse ailments connected to his age. On September 27, in accordance with the instructions of the prison doctor, he was sent to a medical centre outside the prison, but unidentified officials opposed his treatment and he was returned to the prison. Another prisoner of conscience from the same section of Raja’i Shahr prison, Ali Salanpour (علی سلان‌پور), was taken to hospital and returned in the same way, also on September 27. He is suffering intense pain because of a problem with a vertebra in his neck. In his case he was asked, while he was being moved to the hospital, for money “to cover the treatment.” However all prisoners in Iran are covered by medical insurance, so that they are treated without charge in government facilities. Moreover, prisoners are not allowed either credit cards or cash. [The ruse is likely to be a way of getting money from a prisoner’s relatives. I note that Ali Salanpour’s name is missing from the hyperactivist database of prisoners of conscience: any further information would be welcome, as this database is a very important tool for tracking human rights abuses in Iran ~Sen]

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Wahid Dana free on bail in Shiraz: four still detained

wahid-dana
PCED (facebook), September 28, 2014.

Mr. Wahid Dana ( وحید دانا), a Bahai from Shiraz, has been released on bail. Bail was set at 500 million rials (15,000 euros, 19,000 US dollars). Mr. Dana was arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on August 5, along with Mr. Adib Haqqpazhouh, Mr. Sa`id `Ebadi, and Mrs. Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour (ادیب حق پژوه، سعید عابدی، و یهیه معنویپور). Mrs. Ma`navipour was released on bail on September 18.

On September 9, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence broke into the home of Mrs. Wahideh Dana (وحیده دانا) [perhaps a daughter of Mr. Wahid Dana? ~Sen], also in Shiraz, and searched it. On September 1, Mr. Shahram Mansour ( شهرام منصور) and Mr. Farhad Sarafraz (فرهاد سرافراز) were detained in Shiraz and taken to Detention Facility 100 in the city. They are still detained, as are Adib Haqqpazhouh, Mr. Sa`id `Ebadi.

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September 25, 2014

Iranian MP abuses a group of Bahai students


Taghato, September 24, 2014.

Ali Reza Mahjoub (علی‌رضا محجوب)[*], an Iranian Member of Parliament who has been reelected several terms for the ‘reformist’ faction, insulted a number of the Bahai students who have been excluded from tertiary education, who were visiting him in his office. He called them terrorists and gunmen and expelled them from his office. One of the students, the 18-year-old Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh (روحیه صفاجو), described the meeting on her facebook page on September 23. She writes that as the meeting began, one of the eight Bahai students greeted Mr. Mahjoub, saying “Salam.” He did not respond with Salam [as both social norms and religious teachings require], but rather asked “Has Bahaism become a religion?” [In this context, ‘Bahaism’ is not intentionally insulting ~Sen]
Mrs. Sefajuh responded on behalf of the eight students, “We are not talking about religion, we have come to say that we are Iranians and we have a right to education. I was expelled, and now my daughter is not even accepted at university.”
Mr. Mahjoub, who had closed his eyes, answered, “Don’t change the subject. Give me an answer. Is Bahaism a religion?”
Mrs. Sefajuh replied, “Yes, Bahaism is a religion.”
Mr. Mahjoub raised his voice and began insulting the things Bahais hold dear, and would not allow any of those present to speak. However Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh asked quietly if she could speak for a few moments, which only elicited a louder and even more angry reaction. Mr. Mahjoub said “All you try to achieve is terrorism [the word is also used in Iran for assassins], you’re all getting your pistols.” To Miss Sefajuh he shouted, “Get out, get out!”
Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh replied, “I won’t go. My own father has not shouted at me, these eighteen years. What right do you have to shout at me?”
Mrs. Sefajuh continued her account of the meeting, writing that ‘Mr. Mahjoub began shouting again, saying “What business do you have with me? What is it you want ?” I said very quickly, “This does have to do with you. You expelled my father, my mother was not even allowed to sit [the University Entrance exam], so here I am.” Mr. Mahjoub shouted, “Is that my fault? Get out!”
Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh began to cry, and they left Mr. Mahjoub’s office.

About two weeks ago, 360 Bahais who were excluded from tertiary education in previous years wrote an open letter to President Rouhani, reminding him of his campaign promises regarding civil rights, and said that the way examination results had been withheld from a large number of Bahai university candidates was a sign of his reluctance to admit Bahai students to universities.

[* Mr. Mahjoub was the only reformist MP to be relected in the Tehran district in the 2012 elections, when there was a strong swing to conservative candidates. He is active in labour market affairs and heads the “Worker’s House.” He has opposed subsidy reforms.]

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September 23, 2014

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab beaten in prison, again

HRANA, September 24, 2104

On September 20, Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Bahai shopkeeper from Tehran who is serving an 8-year sentence, was beaten as he was being taken to a judge because he refuses to wear the standard prison uniform. Prisoners of conscience in Iran generally do not wear the prison uniform. Mr. Chiniyan is held in block 1 of Rajai Shahr prison, which is reserved for dangerous prisoners. One of the other prisoners told HRANA that he was summoned to a judge outside the prison, in relation to one of the cases against him that has not been concluded. At the prison gates, the prison guards demanded that he put on prison uniform, which he refused. The guards beat him and stripped him. He was bruised in many places, and was later treated at the prison clinic because of the severity of his injuries. He was also beaten on August 19, by Mr. Amirian, one of the Deputy Directors at the prison, and a number of prison guards, and his clothes were torn.

Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012. On May 28, 2014, he was transferred to section 1 of Raja’i Shahr, where dangerous criminals are kept. He was punished with one week in solitary from June 25 to July 1, and four days in solitary on August 20, following his first beating by prison guards.

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September 20, 2014

First approval given for a youth training building at the Lotus Temple

Press Trust of India, September 19, 2014.

The Delhi Development Authority has given initial approval for the construction of a separate building for youth training on the grounds of the ‘Lotus Temple‘ in Delhi. These activities are at present conducted within the House of Worship itself. The application had previously been dealt with in the DDA’s technical committees. The Indian Government uses the Lotus Temple as a symbol of communal harmony. In April, 2014, it placed the Lotus Temple on the “tentative list” for UNESCO recognition as a world heritage site.

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September 19, 2014

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister clarifies his stance on ‘recognizing’ the Bahai Faith

Viva News, September 19 2014.

Indonesia’s religious affairs Minister, Lukman Saifuddin, has said that the Indonesian government would not add the Bahai Faith to the list of recognized religions, as media have reported. There are still six recognized religious identities in Indonesia, he said. They are Islam, Catholicism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Neither Taoism nor the Bahai Faith would be added. The Minister’s previous instruction to the Home Affairs Ministry, that the Bahai Faith is a religion protected by articles 28E and 29 in the Constitution, was an administrative measure with regard to identity cards and other necessary documentation.

Indonesia’s Constitution does not recognise or establish any religion. However the Prevention of Desecration Act identifies six religions as those historically embraced by the people of Indonesia. Departments of the Ministry of Religious Affairs deal with the state’s relations with these six communities, and they may obtain funding (although the situation in relation to the Confucian community is somewhat more complicated). However the Act goes on to say that other religions, such as Judaism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism and Taoism, have full protection under Article 29. The Minister’s statement about the Bahai Faith was not announcing an intention to add it to the six specifically identified religions. Rather it meant that the Bahai Faith should not be treated as a sect of another religion, and is entitled to the same protection as the religions mentioned in Article 29.

This report includes input from Satu Harapan in the blog Religious Studies in Indonesia.

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Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour free on bail

Bahiyyeh-Ma`navipour
‘Fariba Kamalabadi’ (public figure facebook page), September 18, 2014.

Bahiyyeh Ma`navipour (بهیه معنوی پور), one of three Bahais arrested in Shiraz on August 5, has been freed on bail.

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September 18, 2014

‘Unfulfilled Promises’ notes dramatic increase in anti-bahaism in Iranian media

Editorial, September 18, 2014.

In a report entitled Unfulfilled Promises, released on September 15, the Baha’i International Community in addresses 34 pledges made by Iran in February 2010 that relate to the human rights of Iran’s Bahai community. The report is summarised in a BWNS news item and can be read or downloaded in pdf format here.

graph-B-arrested
One of several points the report makes is that hateful anti-Bahai propaganda continues to be disseminated in Iran’s official media, and those responsible continue to go unprosecuted. A section beginning on page 17, entitled ‘Incitement to hatred,’ outlines the Iranian government’s extensive and well-documented hate campaign against Iranian Bahais, conducted through government-controlled media. Bahais have been portrayed as foreign agents and have faced continuous but utterly unfounded allegations of immorality. They have been branded as social pariahs to be shunned.

graph-B-prisoners
In 2011, the Bahai International Community documented the dissemination of more than 400 items of anti-Bahai propaganda in government-controlled or pro-government media over 16 months from late 2009 to early 2011. That report is available here. During the 16-month period from late 2009 to May 2011, the charge that Bahais are Zionists or agents of Israel appeared in more than 75 articles or broadcasts. In January 2011, the official Sima Television News Network broadcast three episodes in its long-running series The Secrets of Armageddon, which presented various conspiracy theories about Israel, focusing on the Bahai Faith. These episodes suggested that the “misguided Bahaist sect” acted as an arm of international Zionism in the Pahlavi period (prior to 1979) to systematically influence the political, military, and cultural branches of the Shah’s regime, seeking to turn Iran into a second Israel. This inflammatory propaganda has not abated. In 2013, for example, the media continued to disseminate anti-Bahai statements, some of them made at the highest levels of government.

graph-antibahaismAn article published on 29 July 2013 by a government-aligned news agency, Tasnim, cited a large selection of fatwas issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i. Among the new fatwas was an older one that quoted Ayatollah Khamene’i as saying that Iranians are to avoid association with Bahais because they are najis (unclean). This fatwa was republished one day before the inauguration of Iran’s new president, Mr Hassan Rouhani. Soon after, in November 2013, a series of disturbing posts intended to instill fear of Bahais in the Iranian population was posted on Facebook. The posts included headings such as “Be aware, Bahai killers are in your city and at the school of your children, until they are completely eliminated, you are in danger.” There were also blatant lies with gruesome photos of the murder of a couple with the caption “Bahais committed violent murders for disruption caused in their informational gathering.” The posts were later removed by facebook.

In December 2013, government agencies intensified their campaign against the Bahais. A new six-part documentary. Meet the Darkness, was broadcast on channel 6. The channel’s website says, “Meet the Darkness explores the relationship between the misguided sect of Baha’ism and Israel, and the influence of the Bahais on the sinister Pahlavi family.” The first part was aired in the second week of December after the 8 p.m. news. The teaser begins with a cleric stating: “The supporters of the Shah were all Bahais.” This was followed by ominous music as photos of the Faith’s Prophet Founder and early Bahais were shown.

During the first part of 2014, the quantity of anti-Bahai propaganda rose dramatically. The Bahai International Community catalogued at least 55 anti-Bahai articles on Iranian websites in January, 72 in February, 93 in March, 285 in April, 366 in May, and 565 in June.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-272
For related articles, see the category “anti-bahai polemics.” Scroll past the first item, which will of course be this editorial.

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September 16, 2014

Help! Bahais are taking over the gardens!

Filed under: Anti-Bahai polemics — Sen @ 19:06

Editorial, September 16, 2014.

The latest story in Iran’s government-approved media is that Bahais are up to no good in an extensive park on the Western outskirts of Tehran, on the road to Kharaj, known as the Vardavard gardens. A google search at 17.30 GMT today found 408 media sites expressing their concern at Bahai activities in the area, in identical words. The stories have two different titles: “The Vardavard gardens are a safe place for immoral Bahai activities” [example] and “A place for having sex with girls, on condition of becoming a Bahai.” [example]. With respect to the latter: if Iranian society is full of young men and women who want to have sex with strangers, wouldn’t they simply find one other without needing to become Bahais? And find a nice mullah who will make sex with strangers all right and proper, by giving them a sigheh marriage for an hour or two?

According to the story, the Bahais attract converts through allowing immoral acts with Bahai women and girls, and therefore they are always on the lookout for safe places. In fact they are even attracting homosexuals! They have a big property in the area of the park, with lots of rooms and a pool and sound-proofing, where they have cocktail parties for boys and girls together. One of the sites even has a photograph: cocktails The camera doesn’t lie. Not only are there Bahais drinking beer and cocktails, there are women without hejab, the doors to the street are wide open, and there are no crowds of basij and hezbollah on motorcycles. Tehran is not what it used to be.

The parties are promoted in social media, and people pay 250,000 tumans each (75 euros, 100 US dollars) for a place for some nice debauchery. After they’ve debauched a few times, little by little, they are attracted to learn about the Bahai teachings. The stories end with a call for the authorities to crack down harder on the Bahais. I would have thought that it would be sufficient to close the supposed mansion of depravity, and let the kids go to university. It keeps them off the streets.

What’s going on? My guess is, a developer with good connections wants to build on the park. He really should have researched the Bahai view on chastity and drinking alcohol before launching this story. And next time, choose a park that has at least some shrubbery.

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September 14, 2014

Bahai home raided in Shiraz


HRANA, September 14, 2014.

On September 9, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence broke into the home of Wahideh Dana (وحیده دانا) in Shiraz, searched it for about an hour, and confiscated religious books, images and CDs. Ms. Dana refused to open the door, but after the agents had forced their way in, they showed a search warrant.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


Saqi Feda’i rearrested in Mashhad


HRANA, September 14, 2014.

Saqi Feda’i (ساقی فدایی), a Bahai from Mashhad, has been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence and arrested. She was first arrested by agents from the Ministry of Intelligence on July 8 this year, following a raid on a Bahai religious meeting in her home on June 1. She was released on bail about one month later (her release has not previously been reported on Sen’s Daily, and the date and amount of bail are not stated in the HRANA report). Her mother, Mey Khalusi (می خلوصی), was arrested during the raid on June 1, as were two other Bahais from Mashhad, Dari Amri (دری امری) and Shayan Tafazoli (شایان تفضلی). These three were transferred from the Ministry of Intelligence facilities in Mashhad to Vakilabad prison on August 2. They have now been held for three months without trial or charge.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


September 13, 2014

Alain Locke, short, gay, black and brilliant philosopher, finally gets a fitting burial

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 15:48
Tags: , ,


Washington Post, September 12, 2014

This weekend, 60 years after his death, the ashes of the black Bahai philosopher Alaine Locke are finally being given a permanent resting place in Washington, in Capitol Hill’s Congressional Cemetery. The commemorative ceremony and interment were planned and funded largely by African American Rhodes scholars who followed Locke’s pioneering path across the Atlantic to Oxford. Locke was the first American black to be selected for the Rhodes scholarship, in 1907. He went on to be an important figure in the pragmatic school of philosophy and in the Harlem Renaissance, and an early spokesman for cultural pluralism, but was born at least a generation too early to be fully recognized in his lifetime. In a 1949 note, Locke refers to the irony of being born in America with his three minority statuses:

“Had I been born in ancient Greece I would have escaped the first [homophobia]; in Europe I would have been spared the second [U.S. racial segregation policies]; in Japan I would have been above rather than below average [height].”

His gravestone reads “Alain Leroy Locke, 1885-1954, Herald of the Harlem Renaissance, Exponent of Cultural Pluralism.” On the reverse side are four symbols: a nine-pointed Bahai star representing the religion that emphasizes the spiritual unity of humankind; a Zimbabwe bird, the emblem of the African country formerly called Rhodesia, which the American Rhodes community adopted; a lambda, symbolizing gay and lesbian rights; and Phi Beta Sigma, the fraternity Locke joined at Howard University. In the center is a dramatic art deco depiction of an African woman’s face set against a sunburst.

“Teneo te, Africa” it reads in Latin. “I hold you, Africa.”

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.


Numerous excluded students give the lie to Larijani

MJLarijani
Editorial, September 13, 2014.

This year, as in previous years, Bahai high school graduates who have achieved the necessary passes in Iran’s nationwide university entrance examinations are being refused entry to universities across the country because of their religious beliefs. However this year they are being excluded without documentation: their educational records have the message “write to PO Box so-and-so” or “refer to PO Box so-and-so” in place of examination grades. This phrase, inserted in their educational records, amounts to a coded message for educational institution, which will be understood as saying, “this is a Bahai, do not admit him or her.” An example of this was given on this blog on August 4. A similar procedure has been followed where a student who is already enrolled becomes a Bahai or is discovered to be a Bahai: they are told to make enquiries at an office, where they are informed verbally that they have been expelled because they are Bahais. The example of Yalda Na’imeyan ( یلدا نعیمیان) was reported on this blog on September 7

Another innovation this year is that Mohammad Javad Larijani, Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary, has publicly stated that “The authorities have never discriminated against the followers of the Baha’i faith merely based on being Bahais, as they believe that based on the Iranian Constitution every individual has the same rights and cannot be deprived of constitutional rights.” “Those who claim to have been deprived of studying at university due to being a Bahai” should “send your documentation for follow-up.” (Translated by Iran Press Watch) Any Bahai who did have such documentation, from previous years when expulsions were sometimes announced in writing, would be very foolish to send it to the “Human Rights Council.” That would be inviting a prison term. Resilient as always, the Bahai students and human rights organisations have been documenting and publishing the stories of individual Bahai students, providing irrefutable evidence for those able to access human rights web sites that Mr. Larijani is lying. They may not say “lying” in as many words (Bahais generally are polite to a fault), but that’s what it amounts to. There are too many stories for me to translate them all, but I am collecting the names and photographs below: click on the photograph for the source in Persian.

Anahita Etahadi
(آناهیتا اتحادی)

Noura Sabet
(نورا ثابت)

Tara Houshmand
(تارا هوشمند)

Shadi Shirazi
(شادان شیرازی)

Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh (روحیه صفاجو)

Ruhiyyeh Sefajuh
(روحیه صفاجو)


Dorsa Dehqani (درسا دهقانی)

Dorsa Dehqani
(درسا دهقانی)

Nilofar Mazidi( نیلوفر مزیدی)

Nilofar Mazidi
( نیلوفر مزیدی)

Sarmad Shadabi
(سرمد شادابی)

 

Dr. Mohammad Maleki (محمد ملکی), former president of the University of Tehran, and Muhammad Nourizad (seated) meet some of the excluded students (photo Radio Yek Jahan)

Dr. Mohammad Maleki (محمد ملکی), former President of the University of Tehran, and Muhammad Nourizad (محمد نوری‌زاد, seated 3rd from right) meet some of the excluded students (photo Radio Yek Jahan)

 

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Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

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