Sen's daily

May 12, 2018

Anti-Bahaism on show at Tehran international book fair

Hamid Rezatghipour, May 7, 2018.

A few days after the start of the Tehran international book fair, the showing of anti-Bahai books with titles such as “the deviant sect of Bahais” has increased dramatically. The Centre for the Documentation of the Islamic Revolution has a series of books on “identifying the various aspects of the Bahai sect,” while the Centre for Bahai Studies has taken two booths at the exhibition to display almost all the anti-Bahai literature it has published. The anti-Bahai literature appears to be more visible than in previous years. The publishers receive subsidies or are funded by Iran’s government or religious institutions. The publication of Bahai literature, or responses to the accusations, is not permitted. From the book covers pictured, it appears that some of the literature mixes anti-Semitism with anti-Bahaism. This is common in anti-Bahai propaganda produced in Iran: some visual examples are collected in “images of hate” on my Bahai studies blog.

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


April 1, 2018

Social media campaign in Yemen calls for extermination of Bahais

Iran Press Watch, April 1, 2018.

Dangerous Development Signaling a Sectarian Disaster

The Yemeni community has been shocked over the past two days [prior to March 26, when the Arabic report was published] by a fierce media campaign launched by the Ansarullah group (Houthis). The campaign incites hatred and sectarian hostility, opposes freedom of thought, and calls for acts of violence and murder against members of the Bahai Faith, as well as other against peaceful religious minorities.

“This is a devilish religion and we will exterminate every Bahai,” proclaimed Houthi activist Ahmad Ayed Ahmed in a public Tweet. This tweet was widely circulated by supporters of Ansarullah. Similar provocative Tweets by other activists and leaders have also been circulating.

The campaign coincided with the threats made by the leader of Ansaruallah, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, against the Bahais, Ahmadis, Christians and a number of Islamic sects during his Friday speech on the occasion of Rajab Friday. Al-Houthi used an explicit sectarian hostile language against several religions, sects, and ideologies in Yemen and intensively against the Bahais. He appealed to his followers, especially intellectuals, people in media, clergy and activists to launch a cultural, social, and intellectual war against these minorities.

This marks a clear call for a sectarian war against minorities and specifically Bahais, and parallels the already ongoing systematic attack against Bahais including arbitrary arrests, persecution, and torture.

Although the persecution of the Bahais is not new, Houthis had until now exercised a degree of “political dissimulation” to conceal their direct involvement. However, since al-Houthi’s public speech, Houthis are now openly spearheading as well as escalating the systematic persecution of Bahais.

A number of human rights organizations have expressed concern about this situation, it being a clear and disturbing indication of a transition to a more aggressive stage of persecution, targeting pluralism and freedoms, as well as the very foundation of coexistence in Yemen.

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

May 23, 2016

Iranian media publish list of Bahai businesses for boycotting and closure

Oweis, May 18, 2016.

Government-sponsored media in Iran have published a list of Bahai-run businesses in Zahedan, along with a compilation of fatwas from Shia and Sunni divines, requiring Muslims to have no dealings with Bahais. Zahedan is a city of half a million, in the South of Iran, near to the border with Pakistan. It is an important centre for the Sunni population in Iran (70% of the population are Sunni). The Oweis report begins with an ugly “Rasputin” image, one of the stock images used in the anti-Bahai literature to represent the Bahai Faith. (See “Images of Hate” for a catalogue of these images: the content is offensive.) The list contains the names of 40 businesses, which suggests a Bahai population of some thousands in Zahedan. From the names, it appears that 12 of the businesses relate to optician’s work, four to photography, six to computers and electricity, and the remainder to an assortment of retail, services and consultancy work. The report promises to publish lists of Bahai businesses in other cities ‘soon.’

According to the report, in recent days the hearts of many of the faithful [Muslims] have been wounded by a visit from a well-born lady [Faezeh Rafsanjani] to the leaders of the Bahai Faith, which took place in Tehran. Oweis is therefore republishing the fatwas and a list of Bahai businesses in Zahedan, first published in August 2015 (as previously reported on Sen’s Daily). It says with regret that the government has not taken any action against these businesses.

The story, originally published in Oweis, has been republished in other government-sponsored media, such as Shahid News, and Qatreh News.

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

May 22, 2016

Anti-Bahai demonstration in Qom ; coming of 12th Imam postponed

Gold News (Persian), May 21, 2016.

An anti-Bahai — and anti-Rafsanjani — demonstration was held in Qom after the noon prayers on Friday, May 20. The protest was a reaction to Faezeh Rafsanjani’s taboo-breaking meeting with Fariba Kamalabadi, one of the Bahai “Yaran,” who had been released on prison furlough. The crowd was demanding legal action against Ms. Rafsjaneh for socializing with a Bahai. They were equipped with slogans such as “Death to the traitor, death to the troublemaker,” “What price for defending Bahaism?” “We follow [Imam] Husayn, we will not be silent” and “Down with the monarchist troublemaker.” The report states that another slogan was “Hashemi, may your Bahai link be blessed,” but the photograph shows the slogan “Troublemaker, may your Bahai link be blessed.” “Troublemakers” is the term used in government media for those who questioned the outcome of the 2009 elections. In this context it is a reference to both Faezeh Rafsanjani and her pragmatic-conservative father, who campaigned against the populist incumbent, President Ahmadinejad.

Another report, on the Bahai site “Equality of men and women” states that Hojjat al-Islam Nekounam (حجت‌الاسلام نکونام), the representative of the Supreme Leader (Khamane’i) in the Province of Chaharmaqal and Bakhtiari, has said that the promotion and publicising of the Bahai Faith, for example when the Bahais meet with opposition figures, on flimsy excuses such as Bahais being ‘oppressed’ or in the defence of ‘human rights,’ will delay the coming of the Twelfth Imam. [In actual fact, the publicising of the Bahai Faith in Iran occurs almost entirely through the anti-Bahai propaganda of the government-sponsored media. ~ Sen]

However a very detailed report of what appears to be the same speech, on the government-controlled site Qatreh, abbreviates this part of the speech, saying that the delayed coming of the Twelfth Imam is due to the existence of “deviant thinking (تفکر انحرافی),” without mentioning the Bahai Faith. The report on “Equality of men and women” does not name its source.

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

July 24, 2015

Qom Seminary launches online training in anti-Bahaism

Iran Press Watch, July 24, 2015.

In an advertisement on its site, Tasnim news agency has announced that the Qom Seminary, the most influential seminary in Iran, intends to hold online introductory courses on the Baha’i Faith and the Ahl-e Haqq for seminary students across the country. These courses will be offered through the “All sects and religions organization,” and the Offices of Propaganda and Practical Training at the Qom Seminary. The Qom Seminary has started extensive propaganda on these subjects in most government centers and government sponsored news websites. The Qom seminary is not the only organisation teaching the principles of anti-Bahaism in Iran. The Habilian Association uses its website and mobile displays to spread anti-Bahaism and partisan political messages throughout Iran. The photographs below show a 2014 exhibition at Payam-e Nour University in Nishapur and a 2013 exhibition at the Kosar recreational complex in Zanjan.

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

April 18, 2015

Egyptian government to confront ‘threats of atheists, Bahais and Shiites’

Egyptian streets, April 17, 2015.

In a meeting held last Tuesday at the headquarters of the Ministry of Religious Endowments in Downtown Cairo, Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Goma’a stated that he plans to form special groups dedicated to spreading awareness of the “threats” of atheism and the Bahai and Shi’a religions, in addition to social issues such as drug addiction and murder. “The groups will include one Qur’an reciter, one chanter and two speakers,” Abdel Razek told Daily News Egypt.

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

March 6, 2015

Did Khamene’i restrain anti-bahai hooligans?

Editorial, March 6, 2015.

The Campaign against the harassment of Bahais (on facebook) has published an example of threatening letters that have been sent to a number of Bahai homes in Iran. The letter, couched in religious language, begins with an invocation to Imam Hussein, and a reference to the season of Ashura, and says in part:

We will not allow the Imam-e Zaman (the Lord of the Age), be oppressed. We will not allow the scum and apostates to slander him. The Lord of the Age has not come to us, he has not arisen. But before he does arise, we swear by Hussein, we will wipe the Bahais of this generation from the face of the earth. Either renounce your claims, or face the consequences. This is just the beginning: our work will continue with … (signed) Hezbollah Youth and
Association [that] waits for the Mahdi.

The ‘Campaign’ article does not indicate when the letters were received, where, or in what numbers. [Further information would be appreciated. ~sen]

The Hezbollah Youth and the Association that waits for the Mahdi are real organizations. The website of the latter has articles such as “The mixing of Bahais and Zionism” which claims that the Bahai Faith was founded on the orders of England and America, and is linked to Zionism. The Bahais, English, Americans and Zionists work together because of their hatred for Islam. The article is a fairly typical example of anti-bahaism in contemporary Iran: hateful, uninformed, absurd, but also dangerous, because the population is similarly uninformed and seeking scapegoats.

The name of the Hezbollah Youth under the letter suggests a connection to a recent statement by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, in a meeting with representatives of religious minorities in Iran’s Parliament. It has been translated by Iran Press Watch. He said that Imam Ali said a Muslim would not be blamed if they die of sadness over the harassment of a non-Muslim in a Muslim country. “Even extremist Hezbollah youth have never allowed themselves to attack any non-Muslims.”

Was the Supreme Leader warning the Hezbollah Youth that killing Bahais in Iran now would reduce the propaganda value he has been gaining, by criticizing the killings of Muslims in some western countries?

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

March 3, 2015

Increase in anti-Bahai propaganda in Iran

Iran Press Watch, February 25, 2015.

In recent days anti-Bahai posters have been displayed in Tehran metro stations. The propaganda and the simultaneous arrest of 14 Bahais in Tehran and Isfahan in the last two weeks attest to a new wave of pressure on the Bahais in Iran. Saham News reports that the propaganda posters claim that Bahais are members of a cult devised by imperialist powers, whose aim is to spy and to change the culture and religion of the people of Iran, specifically Shiite Muslims. The posters can be seen in most Tehran metro stations.

Concurrently, extensive anti-Bahai programs are being aired on radio and TV carrying the same message: accusations of cultism, spying and propagation of immorality.

Faranak, a 31-year-old Bahai woman, says, “I was shocked to see the poster in the metro station. I didn’t expect them to treat us this way. Although we have become used to harsh and offensive treatment over the years, these posters are alarming; they make us wonder after all these years of persecution and imprisonment: what more are they going to do to us?”

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

December 20, 2014

Another Iranian leader reiterates: no civil rights possible for Bahais

NCRI, December 19, 2014.

Mohammad Mousavi-Bodjnordi, who heads Iran’s civil rights watchdog and is considered close to President Hassan Rouhani,told the state-run Fars News agency that Iran’s Baha’is minority have no civil rights in the regime because their beliefs are contrary to Islam. “The Baha’i belief is contrary to Islam. In Iran, Baha’is have no civil rights and in particular, they do not have the right to study.” Civil rights are defined as in line with the beliefs of Ayatollah Khomeini, Mousavi-Bodjnordi said.

Mohammad Mousavi-Bodjnordi is a member of “combatant clergy” a clerical body that descibes itself as ‘moderate’. Hassan Rohani appointed him to the group tasked with defining “civil rights.” Earlier this month, a senior regime cleric also called for all Baha’is to be expelled from the southern city of Rafsanjan because they are ‘unclean’ and doing business with them is ‘forbidden.’

The Iranian regime has stepped up suppression of Baha’is in recent months with frequent arrests and interrogations. Read full report (in English).

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

December 11, 2014

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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For related articles, see the category “anti-bahai polemics.” Scroll past the first item, which will of course be this editorial.

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

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

June 13, 2014

Anti-Bahai pamphlets distributed in Yazd (2 updates)

Alliance for Rights of All Minorities-ARAM, June 13, 2014

Washington D.C — The Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM) has been informed of the dissemination of an incendiary flyer in the city Yazd which states: “Since the Baha’i people are considered as expelled criminals by Islam, any privilege of life or property on their blood is wasted.” The flyer that was posted on targeted sections of the city, including the doors of some Baha’i residences calls for “all Moslems to oppose this group and to fight them with all their life.”

The dissemination of this flyer on the eve of Mid- Shaban, or Shabe-barat, or the “night of deliverance” which honors the birth Imam Mahdi, by design or coincidence presents a heightened threat, particularly as the world’s attention is focused on World Cup fervor and turmoil in Iraq. ARAM calls on Iran’s government officials to preserve the safety and security of its citizens by condemning the flyer and its message.

June 14. HRANA adds that anti-Bahai graffiti has also appeared in Yazd, on the walls and gates of Bahai houses. It is unimaginative: all the examples shown say “Death to the Bahais.” One adds “death to America and England.”

Side note: The report of the Bahai World News Service on this incident states, “In January, said Ms. Alai, the Bahai International Community had catalogued at least 55 anti-Bahai articles on Iranian websites. That rose to 72 in February, 93 in March, 285 in April, and 366 in May.”

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

March 18, 2014

Anti-Bahai demonstration planned for Tehran

Iran Press News, March 16

Iran Press News, a usually reliable source, reports that an anti-Bahai demonstration was planned in Tehran. It was to take place in front of the United Nations offices in Tehran, on March 16. It is not clear whether the demonstration did take place there, or whether the authorities intervened. The belief that the United Nations, the BBC, human rights organisations and lawyers, the British government and other foreign organs are controlled by Bahais is a common feature of anti-Bahaism in Iran, but it seems unlikely that the authorities would welcome a public display of anti-Bahaism where it could be witnessed from the UN offices.

A statement released by the demonstration’s organisers states that the “deviant sect of Bahais” is a terrorist organisation with its headquarters in the territories occupied by Zionism [Israel], and supported by the Zionist regime. It is linked to this illegal murderous regime which has shed the blood of thousands of innocent people. The actions of this deviant sect are not limited to physical acts of terrorism, they interfere systematically in the lives of the devotees, who are subjected to control from childhood, depriving them of freedom of conscience and the chance to investigate. Moreover, the sect subjects those who leave the sect and seek guidance [become Muslims] to the most inhumane possible treatment, ranging from character assassination to shunning.

The Bahai Faith is a religion founded in Iran in the 19th century, which functions democratically without any priesthood. The Ottoman authorities exiled its founder, Baha’u’llah, to Akka, where he died in 1892, approximately 50 years before Israel came into existence. In the early 20th century there was an appreciable Bahai community in various parts of what is now Israel, but as the future character of the state of Israel became evident, they were all asked to leave. Today there are no Bahais with a permanent residence in Israel, although there are a few hundred staff with temporary appointments working at the Bahai shrines there. The organisers’ “guilt by association” argument is not only logically invalid, it is factually wrong.

One of the most important Bahai teachings is the independent investigation of truth: children of Bahais are not automatically enrolled as Bahais, but may chose to enroll from the age of 15, if they wish. There is undoubtedly some separation, in Iran, between Bahais and those who have left the Bahai community to become Muslims. A long-standing fatwa, recently re-iterated by Ayatollah Khamene’i, states that good Muslims should avoid any contact with Bahais.

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

March 3, 2014

Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi: “Equal Rights for the Bahais and the Jews are Against Islam”

Iran Wire, March 3

In a speech to seminary students and teachers, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, an influential hardliner in the Iranian regime, stated “Some have come forward with a plan for citizenship rights and want to give equal rights to the Bahais and the Jews and the Muslims and… We can never accept this.” There was no doubt that he was referring to the Draft Citizenship Rights Charter presented by Rouhani’s administration last November.

Yazdi’s ire was directed at the principle that all citizens are equal under the law. “All Iranian citizens, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, wealth, social class, race, etc, enjoy citizenship rights and the foreseen guarantees in rules and regulations,” declares the draft charter’s first article. The sentence does not include the term “religion,” probably intentionally, but the “etc.” leaves a lot of room for speculation. Hardliners have been quick to speculate, especially when it comes to the Bahai community, which has been harassed relentlessly since the Islamic Revolution.

“The standard is always Islam,” Yazdi told the theological school students. “Western human rights and citizenship rights, meaning equality between Muslims and Bahais, has no relation to Islam. These rights, as described by the West, utterly go against Islam, the constitution and the way of Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]. The people of this country, who have suffered hardships and have given so many martyrs, would not accept anything that goes against Islam. Of course, even those who are not Muslims must be respected. They have rights, which Islam recognizes.”

Second-Class Citizenship

Ayatollah Yazdi says that religious inequality is acceptable. “Islam never considers a Jew and a Muslim as equals,” he said. “Even though Islam has conferred certain rights to Jews, this does not mean that they are equals in every right. Sometimes this is called ‘second-class citizenship’. They can call it whatever they want, but it does not change the reality.”

Here, Bahais are conspicuous by their absence. Whereas in pronouncements condemning “equality,” Bahais were included [if only to be excluded ~Sen], when it came to “rights” they were not mentioned – not as second-class citizens, not even as third-class citizens. Not at all.

Human rights activists and liberal commentators have been critical of the rights charter for a number of reasons, labeling it “elegant but useless” and a “hodgepodge of things,” but Yazdi sees the charter as anti-Islamic both in word and in spirit.

The spirit, of course, comes from the people who wrote the draft under orders from Rouhani. Addressing the students, Yazdi asserted that those who promote citizenship rights are wrong about Islam and wrong about the history of the Islamic Republic. When citizenship rights supporters cite Ayatollah Khomeini’s respect for democratic practices such as the right to vote, they are misconstruing his words. They believe Khomeini “was a political figure and a national hero who opposed the previous regime because it was harmful for the country and wanted to establish a system which would be more beneficial to people.” But, according to Yazdi, this is simply untrue. “People who think like this are secular and, in their view, good and evil consist of material things,” he said, adding that, for these people, “evil is material backwardness and the absence of well-being, while good is using technology and providing a good life for everybody. They believe religion is something marginal, a fantasy.”

Islam was absolutely central to Khomeini’s thinking, Yazdi said. “When he said that society was facing a great danger, he meant a great danger for Islam. This was something that was not important to many politicians.”

Are the people who want equal rights for all citizens enemies of Islam? asked one student. “They are not really enemies of Islam,” he answered, “but this is how they see the world, especially if the person is educated in England or some other place like that, because in those places they talk of human rights, citizenship rights and other rights with such reverence that gradually the student comes to consider them as the most important issue.” He added that, although he was 80 years old, it would still be possible for him to fall under the influence of Western rhetoric if he travelled to one of these countries. So it was logical to assume a “young person who has no deep understanding of Islamic principles” to be particularly vulnerable to influence.

Full report
Persian report

Contrasting views of Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani

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

February 19, 2014

Iranian MP claims Bahai community spy for Israel and US

Jerusalem Post, February 19, 2014

Ahmad Salek, chairman of Iran’s parliamentary cultural commission, on Tuesday accused his country’s Baha’i community of spying for Israel and the United States. “I declare very explicitly that Baha’ism is an espionage organization which gathers intelligence for the CIA and Mossad, and there are abundant documents to prove this,” the Fars news agency quoted Salek saying.

Fars, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard, reported in the same article comments that Iran’s then-prosecutor-general Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi made in 2009: “We [as the state] offer a variety of services to the Baha’i sect in Iran and respect them as human beings, but not as insiders, spies, or a political grouplet supported by Britain and Israel to cause disturbance in Iran.” (more…)

July 17, 2013

Demonstrative rejection of anti-Bahaism from Mohammad Nourizad

HRANA, July 15, 2013

On July 15, the prominent Iranian film director Mohammad Nourizad visited the home of the Rahimiyan family. Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and his wife Faran Hesami ( فاران حسامی ) are both serving 4-year prison sentences for their work as teachers at the Bahai Open University (BIHE). Mr. Rahimiyan is in Raja’i Shahr prison, in Karaj, about 50 kilometres from Tehran, and his wife is in Evin prison, in Tehran. Their son Artin (آرتین) is in the care of his grandmother. His grandfather was martyred for his Faith some years ago.

On his web site, Mr. Nourizad has published a photograph showing him kissing the feet of Artin, and writes “Today I went to see a small Bahai family: small in the sense that only the grandmother and her four-year-old grandson remain. I seated Artin, the four-year-old, on a chair and, on behalf of all the arrogant Shiah [sic], I asked his forgiveness, and I kissed his little feet. … Today, I am not fasting [for Ramadan], because I am ill. Artin brought me water, and I drank, he brought me fruit, and I ate.”

Mr. Nourizad’s act, and posting the photograph on his blog, is a demonstrative rejection of both the ideology of the Islamic Republic, which has made anti-Bahaism a feature of its version of Iranian identity, and of the Othering of Bahais in Iranian culture, which is much older than the Islamic Republic. Bahais are popularly regarded as unclean, and this has been confirmed by religious authorities in numerous fatwas since the Revolution. Bahais are therefore not allowed to work in food industries in Iran. To visit a Bahai home and accept food and drink creates a potent symbolic image, showing an alternative Iranian identity which would be free of bigotry and discrimination. It is also a gesture of reconciliation, and for a man living in Iran, an act of courage. He was jailed in 2009 after criticizing the crackdown on protesters challenging the reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Nourizad suggested that by kissing the boy’s feet, he was following the example of Pope Francis, who earlier this year kissed the feet of a young female Muslim prisoner: “When the Pope, the leader of the world’s Catholics, bends, washes, and kisses the feet of a Muslim prisoner, why shouldn’t I kiss your feet as a representative of the office of [Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei] and the Shi’ite sources of emulation?”

“Little Artin meets [his parents] every Sunday. He goes to Karaj to meet his father and uncle and to Evin prison to meet his mother. Artin’s parents have not committed any crime, except that they are Baha’i.”

Additional: Mehrangis Kar has written a piece in english, based on her own experience with the Iranian revolutionary system, that conveys how shocking Mr. Nourizad’s gesture is. “when Mohammad Nourizadeh bestowed a kiss on the foot of a child, he threw the whole contemporary political and social history of Iran into turmoil and challenge.”

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

September 10, 2012

Anti-Bahaism mixed with anti-zionism in Iranian propaganda

PCED, August 20
Iranian Taboo (facebook), August 21

At the "Jerusalem Day" protests in Isfahan on August 17, two portraits of Abdu'l-Baha was burned alongside portraits of Qatar's king Hamad bin Khalifa, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and US President Barrack Obama. Western, Celtic and Coptic crosses were also included in the general assault on sanctities and good taste, while a large spider and web indicate the fantastic conspiracy theory which underlies the display.

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Advertisements in Tehran's subway recently have depicted the shrine of the Bab in Haifa, along with a text stating “Only a few days after the UN officially recognized formation of the usurping State of Israel, in turn Israel recognized Bahaism as an official religion, and the Bahais established  their own House of Justice. And as a payback the Baha’is raised funds dedicated to the aid of Israel, in such wise that in 1356 [Solar A.H.], they were able to raise 120 Milliom Tumans [at that time, before inflation, 7 Tumans =$1.00]. Through the effort of Habib Sabit, this sum of money was then channeled to the Israeli armed forces.” 

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

October 21, 2011

Report on Iran’s anti-Bahai propaganda

Bahai News Service (English), October 21

In a report released today, the Baha’i International Community documents and analyzes more than 400 press and media items over a 16-month period, that typify an insidious state-sponsored effort to demonize and vilify Baha’is, using false accusations, inflammatory terminology, and repugnant imagery.

“This anti-Bahai propaganda is shocking in its volume and vehemence, its scope and sophistication,” (more…)

October 16, 2010

Gold merchants and Iran’s self-reinforcing anti-Bahaism

Filed under: Anti-Bahai polemics — Sen @ 15:39
Tags: , ,


Every week there are one or two anti-Bahai stories that circulate in the officially sanctioned media in Iran: they are usually transparent fabrications. Sometimes I report one which reaches the media outside Iran, or is exceptionally nasty. This week’s story is relatively innocuous: the Bahais are said to be behind the strike of goldsmiths who are protesting a new sales tax by closing their premises. Merchants’ strikes are a traditional form of social and political protest in Iran, since the economy has been the one relatively free sector in an authoritarian society, for the past several centuries. Pulling down the shutters is one of the few ways of pressuring the government available to the long-suffering people of Iran.

Many Bahais in Iran are small shop-keepers and service providers, because they are excluded from government service and employment in most sectors, and from higher education, so that small trading and services is virtually the only avenue Bahais in Iran have to earn a living. They need renewable licenses for their shops, and are periodically put out of business when the local authorities deny them a further license. Sometimes they are arrested and imprisoned or exiled as well. Others have their shops attacked by vandals or arsonists. From the news reports of these incidents, we get a picture of what kind of businesses the Bahais have. Not once have I heard of a Bahai gold merchant or jeweler being denied a license, or of the shop of a Bahai goldsmith being damaged. So this story falls into the category of transparent fabrications, so obviously false that a comment is not required.

However it got me thinking. The motive behind the story is probably not anti-Bahaism, but alarm at the gold merchants’ strike, and fear that it will spread. By saying that the Bahais are behind the strike, the inventor of this story is probably hoping to discourage individual merchants from joining in the strike. The story is circulated to warn shopkeepers, “if you shut your shop, people may think you are a Bahai.” Any perceived relationship to the Bahai Faith would have commercial, social and perhaps criminal consequences for the merchant and his family. (more…)

August 6, 2010

Secret Foreign Office documents show …

May 13 1918, FO Appreciation of Eastern Report LXX

The punch line is, they show nothing. At least this time. …
This posting has been moved to my Bahai Studies blog.

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