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.
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.
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.
An 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.