HRANA, January 23, 2014
Since July, 2011, officials have been preventing the Bahais of Tabriz from washing the bodies of their loved ones, and from using coffins in their burial. Following the death of Fatemeh Zara’i (فاطمه سلطان زارعی), officials at the Wadi Rahmat cemetery in Tabriz announced that it was not permissible to wash the body, or to use a coffin for her burial — both of which are part of Bahai burial practices — and that they would not allow her to be buried. This is despite the fact that the Bahais shared in the cost of construction and maintenance of the cemetery, and had previously been buried there alongside others, without any problems. The Bahais of Tabriz have sought redress with officials at all levels, including the Municipality, the Friday Prayer leader, the cemetery’s administrators, the committee for sects and religions, the Mayor, the office of the Supreme Leader, the President of the IRI and members of parliament, but all have refused to consider the matter.
Following the death of one young Bahai, Sabet Muhammadi (ثابت محمدی), his family was told they should hand over his body, and that a burial place would be found by noon, [thus denying the family an opportunity to wash and prepare the body according to Bahai law.] In 11 previous cases, bodies were buried without being washed, and without coffins, in the town of Miandoab, about 160 km south of Tabriz. Bahai teachings do not allow either moving a body long distances for burial (more than one hour’s travel), or burying the body of a Bahai in ways contrary to the Bahai burial rites.
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