Sen's daily

June 17, 2017

Bahai business closed in Shahroud

Iran Press Watch, June 13, 2017.

The car parts business of Maziar Hamedian (مازیار حامدیان) was closed and sealed on June 6, 2017 by officers of the provincial Office of Public Places in Shahroud. The closure was due to Mr. Hamedian being a Bahai. In the past year, over 300 businesses run by Bahais have been closed down by the authorities in Iran.

Persian source : Bahai News

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May 19, 2017

Non-Bahai shopkeepers in Noshahr call for the reopening of Bahai shops


Translation by Iran Press Watch, May 16, 2017.

Radio Zameneh reports on May 12 that
a group of Noshahr shopkeepers have written to the governor of the city of Noshahr in Mazandaran province (with a copy to the Prosecutor), demanding the removal of the seals placed on seven Bahai business units six months ago. No investigation has been performed during that time. The signatories say that the closure “causes skepticism towards Islamic practices and leads to economic downturn in the city.”

The shopkeepers wrote that according to Paragraph One of the Trade Union’s Guidelines, and Article 28 of the Executive Regulations, any trade unit closed without investigation should be reopened after six months, until the necessary

The shops were sealed by the Office of Properties on the morning of November 1, 2016, because the owners had temporarily closed businesses during the observance of Bahai Holy Days. According to the Iranian Trade Law, those with business licenses are allowed, by law, to close their units for 15 days per year, and should inform the Office of Properties of longer closures.

For the full report, see the translation by Iran Press Watch.

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May 14, 2017

18 Bahai-run businesses in Shahin Shah reopen

Bahai News, May 14, 2017.

The 18 Bahai-run businesses closed down by the authorities in Shahin Shahr, in Isfahan Province, on May 1 have been allowed to reopen by the Mayor’s office, effective from May 14.

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May 5, 2017

Number of Bahai businesses closed in Shahin Shahr reaches 18


Bahai News (Persian), May 3, 2017.

The number of Bahai-run businesses closed down by the authorities in Shahin Shahr, in Isfahan Province, has risen to 18. The closures all took place on May 1. The businesses all have operating licences which were shown to the Bureau of Public Places, the agency that has closed them down. A source stated that the majority of Bahai-run businesses in Shahin Shahr, a town with a population of 150,000, have been closed down.

The eighteen businesses are all in trades such as television repair, clothing or stationery, except for one seller of dried fruits and nuts. Under Iran’s apartheid system, Bahais may not work in cultural, educational or financial institutions, or in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes. They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills. Because of the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are unclean, they are barred from working in restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways, cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. (See an earlier explanation on this blog).

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May 2, 2017

Nine Bahai-run businesses shut by authorities in Shahin-Shahr

Bahai News (Persian), May 2, 2017.

Nine Bahai-run businesses in Shahin-Shahr, in Isfahan Province, have been closed down by the city’s Bureau of Public Places because they observed days of rest on the past week’s Bahai Holy days. The businesses are:
– a clothing business run by Mr. sa`id Qa’emi and Mrs Marjan Golshani (آقای سعید قائمی و خانم مرجان گلشنی)
– a hair-dresser’s run by Mr. Iraj Kushkaki (ایرج کوشککی)
– a retail supplies shop run by Mr. Hojjatollah Rouhani ( حجت الله روحانی)
– a dried fruit business run by Mr. Gulzar (گلزار )
– a mechanic’s business run by Mr. Ardavan Farougheyan (اردوان فروغیان)
– a rubber goods shop run by Mr. `Erfan Karamzadeh (عرفان کرمزاده)
– a sewing machine business run by Mr. Mial Azadi and Houssein Shaker (میلاد آزادی و حسین شاکر)
– a stationery shop run by Mr. Hakim and Mr. Navidi (آقایان حکیم و نویدی),
– a business selling burglar alarms and sports goods run by Puya Azadi (پویا آزادی).
Officers from the Bureau of Public Places went looking for Bahai-run businesses yesterday, asking for their business licences and other documents. They told the Bahais that next time they came, they would close the Bahai-run businesses. Today, the majority of the Bahai-run businesses have been closed down.

On June 23, 2016, the Universal House of Justice issued new guidelines for the observance of Bahai Holy Days in Iran, which allow for various compromises between the Bahais’ desire to close their businesses on the Holy Days and authorities’ desire to reduce the visibility of Bahais in commercial centres. For example, Bahais who have businesses could close the business one day before and one day after the Holy Day as well as on the Holy Day, they could leave the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working, or have a worker present although no trading is done. But the guidelines reject the idea of seeking official permission to close for a day, where this is neither provided for in legislation nor imposed on non-Bahais, since this would be to accede to government interference in the freedom of conscience.

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February 11, 2017

Assets seized from 10 Bahai-run businesses in Karaj and Fardis

Bahai News (Persian, Facebook), February 6, 2017.

During the first week of February, government agents have opened up 10 of the Bahai-run businesses in Karaj and Fardis (two adjoining towns to the West of Tehran) that have been closed down by the authorities, taken away all the stock and other requisites, and re-sealed the premises.

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

January 22, 2017

Kouroush Sharif-zadeh and Fo’ad Mithaqiyan bailed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), January 22, 2017.

Kouroush Sharif-zadeh (کوروش شریف زاده) and Fo’ad Mithaqiyan (فواد میثاقیان), Bahais from Karaj who were arrested on January 19, have been freed on bail of 300 million tumans and 120 million tumans, respectively ($US 92,000 and $US 37,000 respectively). After their arrest they were transferred to Ghezel Hazar prison. Follow the arrest of Mr. Sharif-zadeh, he was taken in handcuffs to his business (which had previously been closed by the authorities), and all his stock was confiscated. The two men are (apparently) joint owners of Sam Optics in Karaj, which has been shut down by the authorities because of their Bahai beliefs. It is one of over 90 Bahai-run businesses that were closed down in various places in November, 2016.

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

January 19, 2017

Two Bahai business-owners arrested in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), January 19, 2017.

Kouroush Sharif-zadeh (کوروش شریف زاده) and Fo’ad Mithaqiyan (فواد میثاقیان), Bahais from Karaj whose optician’s workshop has been shut down by the authorities because of their Bahai beliefs, were summoned to the Office of Suspensions (a department of the Ministry of Justice), and arrested when they arrived. They were taken away from the Office of Suspensions, and their present whereabouts is not known. Kouroush Sharif-zadeh has been previously mentioned on this blog, as the owner of Sam Optics in Karaj, one of over 90 Bahai-run businesses that were closed down in various places in November, 2016.

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

January 12, 2017

Bahai business reopened in Karaj


Campaign against harrassment of Bahais, January 6. 2017.

An office fittings business operated by Kambiz and Kourush Sadeqi ( کامبیز و کوروش صدقی), two Bahai brothers living in Karaj, has been allowed to reopen. In the last three months, at least 140 Bahai-owned businesses have been sealed by the authorities because they were closed on Bahai religious holidays. Most remain sealed.

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

January 4, 2017

Iqan Shahidi released after 5 years in prison


Bahai News (Persian), January 1, 2017.

Iqan Shahidi (ایقان شهیدی), a Bahai from Kermanshah, was released from Raja’i Shahr prison on January 1, at the end of a five-year sentence for his activism for equality of educational opportunities in Iran. Mr. Shahidi was successful in the University Entrance exams in 2007, but was excluded from tertiary education because he is a Bahai. The authorities used the excuse of “file incomplete” – which is to say, it lacked the word “Muslim.” He became active in the campaign against educational discrimination, and was arrested along with a number of other human rights activists, including four Bahais, on March 2, 2010, in Kermanshah. He was transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and held in wing 2A for 71 days. During this time he was subjected to prolonged interrogation and physical and psychological torture. He and Sama Nourani ( سما نورانی ), another Bahai who had been denied university admission, were pressured to make televised confessions. At that time he was about 21 years old. He was released on bail of 50 million tumans (at that time worth about 35000 euros) on May 11, 2010.

He was tried in Tehran on July 2 on charges of membership of an illegal organisation (the Committee for the Right to Education (PCED), propaganda against the regime, and membership of the Bahai community. He was sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Moqayesseh (قاضی مقیسه, also spelled محمد مقیسه‌ای) in Tehran. Judge Moqayesseh was also responsible for the sentencing of the seven ‘Yaran’ (imprisoned national facilitators for the Bahais in Iran) and continues to misuse his judicial position to oppress the Bahai minority even today. The sentence was confirmed by the review court under Judge Mauhed (قاضی موحد). He began his sentence on April 9, 2012. In 2014 he was granted six days of leave from prison, beginning on July 28.

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

December 19, 2016

Another Bahai-run business closed down in Bijar

Iran Press Watch, December 18, 2016.

The business premises of Nosrullah Takapu’i (نصراله تکاپوی) in the city of Bijar in Kurdestan province has been sealed by agents of the Office of Public Places. Mr. Takapu’i has 56 years experience in the dry cleaning business, but said the agents shut his shop because of his belief in the Bahai Faith. The agents who came to close the shop said that if the owner had the necessary permit, they would not have sealed the shop; yet the necessary permit, valid for five years, had been issued that very day. When shown the permit, they sealed the shop doors anyway.

Within the last two months, at least 140 Bahai-owned businesses have been sealed because they closed their shops on Bahai religious holidays.

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

December 1, 2016

Eleven Bahai-run businesses closed in Rasht

Iran Press Watch, November 29, 2016.

The Office of Public Places has sealed the business premises of eleven Bahais living in Rasht over the last few days. They are a haberdashery shop run by Faraj Farhangi (فرج فرهنگی), a clock sales & repair business run by Touraj Farhangi (تورج فرهنگی), a medical supplies business run by Mohammad Asadpour (محمد اسدپور), and unspecified businesses run by Foad Yazdani (فواد یزدانی), Mass`oud Razavian (مسعود رضویان), Siamak Abdulhamidi (سیامک عبدالحميدي), Sa`eed Abdulhamidi (سعید عبدالحميدي), Shehab Ta’eed (شهاب تائید), Homayoun Khanlari (همایون خانلری), Bashir Heravi (بشیر هروی), and Sa`adat Yegan (سعادت یگان). Moreover, the Office of Public Places in Lahijan sealed the business of Navid Rouhipour (نوید روحی پور) in that city on November 16. Lahijan and Rasht lie on Iran’s northern coast, on the Caspian Sea.

The businesses were closed by the authorities because their owners had observed Bahai Holy Days. In recent weeks, more than 120 Bahai-owned businesses have been sealed across Iran.

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

November 25, 2016

Payam Wali free on bail


Bahai News (Persian), November 25, 2016.

Payam Wali (پیام ولی), a Bahai living in Karaj who was arrested on November 22, was released on bail on November 24. Ironically, the bail was his worthless business licence. His business was closed by the authorities some nine years ago, and he is still trying to get the closure reversed. He recently wrote an open letter to Iranian authorities, seeking an end to the closure of his business.

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

November 16, 2016

Five arrested at the Provincial Governor’s Office of Mazandaran

Iran Press Watch, November 12, 2016.

On the morning of November 8, at least five Bahais were arrested at the Mazandaran Provincial Governor’s Office, and a large number of Bahais were harshly treated in front of that office. According to a report by BahaiNews, at least five Bahais who had attended a day of “public interaction with officials” regarding the sealing of Bahai business premises in Mazandaran Province were arrested by security agents. An informed source told the BahaiNews reporter: “After a number of Bahais were permitted to enter the Provincial Governor’s Office, intelligence agents immediately arrested those who were inside the building. Moreover, those who were outside the door were videotaped and attacked by security agents.”

This informed source added: “The agents were shouting that these people receive instructions from Israel, and that they had come there to assemble, start a riot and set fire to the banks. They kept on shouting this. With respect to those who had been arrested, they said, ‘We have also arrested your leaders’ ‒ meaning those who had been arrested inside the building.”

According to this informed source, the people who had come to this public meeting with the officials were Bahais from the city of Qaemshahr. Based on the latest news received by BahaiNews, the names of some of those arrested are: Nima Nokhaah (نیما نوخواه), Aarshaam Golpour (آرشام گلپور), Sohayl Haqqdoust (سهیل حق دوست), Shahrouz Zamaani (شهروز زمانی) and Behnam Mirzai, who is named by the BBC as `Ala-addin Mirza’i (علاءالدین میرزایی).

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

November 4, 2016

Over 90 Bahai businesses sealed by authorities

Iran Press Watch, November 4, 2016.

According to Bahai News (Persian) and Gold News, security agents and agents from the Office of Public Places raided and shut down eight Bahai-owned businesses in Karaj, 35 in Sari, seven in Nowshahr, 6 in Tonekabon, one each in Fereydunkenar and Amol, two in Bahnemir, three in Chalus, five in Bandar Abbas and 29 Bahai-owned businesses in Qaemshahr.

[The majority of the closures appear to relate to the observance of the Bahai holy days but the report includes the closure of eight Bahai-run optometry business in Karaj, which took place before the Holy Days.]

The names of the business owners along with the corresponding business are as follows:

Karaj

Mansour and Manouchehr Enayati — Zeis store
Farshid Azarshab — Eyeglasses store
Koursoh Sharifzadeh — Sam Optics
Shahriar Rabbani — Lathe workshop, Eyeglasses
Kourosh Laghayee — Glasses repair shop
Pejman Misaahi — Sina Glasses Repair Shop
Forouhari — Optometry
Mahtab — Optometry

Nowshahr

Bahman Rohani — Photography shop
Monib Mansour — Optometry
Raki Yousefi — Optometry
Arastou Aasadi — Welding business
Riazollah Heravi — Horology business
Arash Derakhshanian — Mechanic’s shop
Behshad Derakhshanian — Burglar alarm business

Bandar Abbas

Behzad Rasti — Gameron Glasses
Behram Heidarpour and Mr. Ataollah Rezvani’s family — Zeiss Eyeglasses Store
Mr. Sharafi — Arash Glasses Store
Behzad Heidarpour — Tamasha Eyeglasses Store
Mr. Shadpour — Shayan Optic (managed by Mr. Soleimani)

Qaemshahr

Zahra Golabian — Optometry
Sohrab Laghayee — Optometry
Nima Miri — Cosmetics
Fairborn Sabeti — Appliance repair
Farzad Sabeti — Car alignment and oil change
Changiz Derakhshanian and Nima Nokhah — Toy shop
Rezvaneh Samii — Garment store
Kourosh Ahmadzadegan — Security systems
Alaoddin Mirzayee — Security systems
Shayan Ghedami — Paint store
Hooman Rostami — Burglar alarm business
Shahram and Shahrouz Zamani — Auto parts
Soheil Haghdoost — Optometry
Bahaoddin Samimi — Stationery store
Jhobin Yousefi — Burglar alarm business
Behnam and Behdad Shirvani — Appliance repair
Noorollah Ataeeyan — Motor winding business
Bahram Safari — Electronics
Naim Samimi – Auto body shop
Fazel Asadi – Mobile repair
Zekrollah Akbari – Welding business
Shahin Akbari – Ironware
Fariborz Sanaee – Plastic ware
Zekrollah Babayee – Grocery
Atrollah Movafagh – Refrigerator repair
Shahrokh Asadi – Refrigerator repair
Daryoush Bakhtiari – Automobile studio
Saeed Asadi – Auto repair
Jalal Atayeean – Cosmetics

Sari

Mahyar Ghanbari — Security systems installation
Nima Mahinbakht — Security systems installation
Behzad Zabihi — Eyeglasses store
Kamaloddin Akbar — Woodturning
Ghavanoddin Sabetian — Carpentry
Ramin Moosavi — Building decoration
Naim Kamali — Appliance repair
Kourosh Ahmadi — Engine tuning
Zatollah Darabi — Carpentry
Sanaee — Cosmetics
Zia Khoshbin — Paint store (commercial)
Kourosh Moradi — Carpentry
Hossein Ahmadi — Carpentry
Jamal Movafaghi — Carpentry
Asghar Movafaghi — Carpentry
Ashkan Khalili — Motor winding
Shahrouz Zamani — Auto parts
Yaghoub Akbari — Appliance repair
Kamaloddin Akbari – Woodturning
Mahyar Ghanbari – Security systems installation
Ehsan Sanee – Cosmetics
Sohrab Zahedi – Stationery store
Nima Shabrokh – Cosmetics
Bahman Zabihi – Fabrics and crafts store
Shahriar Foroughian — Electric windings
Behrouz Yousefi – Home appliances repair
Vahid Golpour – Clothing
Jahanbakhsh Movafaghi – Woodturning
Saed Andokhs – Clothing
Akbar Hosseini – Wood shop
Hesam Yousefi – Carpentry
Arman Safaee – Stationery store
Zargham Zamani – Clothing
Shahram Nobakht – Appliances store
Pezhman Roshankoohi – Appliances store

Tonekabon

Misagh Esmaeil zadegan — Telephone repair
Noushin Masoudian — Clothing
Sirous Nasiri — Cabinet making
Saleh Eshkevarian — Home appliances
Sina Garshasbi — Home appliances
Naeim Khalaj Abadi — Furniture manufacturing

Fereydunkenar

Afshin Azadi — Clothing

Bahnemir

Ahmad Nikounejad — Gas appliances (sale and repair)
Feizollah Nikounejad — Bike repair

Amol

Serrollah Hekmatshoar

Chalus

Daryoush Talaee — Shoes store
Farshid Kian — Eyeglasses store
Afshin Sobati — Eyeglasses store

According to Bahai News, the reason for sealing these businesses has been the closure of these shops during the nine Bahai religious holidays. This is despite the fact that according to the Executive Regulations of Article Twenty-eight of the Trade Law, commercial units can keep their businesses closed for up to 15 days without providing prior notice to officials.

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

November 1, 2016

Another eight Bahai-run businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), November 1, 2016.

In recent days, agents from the Bureau of Public Places in Karaj have closed down eight businesses run by Bahais. They are all optometry businesses: one a lens grinding workshop, a spectacle repair shop, and six optometry retail shops. Four of the Bahai managers are named as Farshid Adhershab (فرشید آذرشب), Korush Sharifzadeh (کورش شریف زاده), Shahryar Rabbani (شهریار ربانی) and Pazeshman Mithaqi (پژشمان میثاقی). The report states that ten other businesses have been closed recently, simply because they were run by Bahais, but it does not say whether these ten are in Karaj.

The recent closures of optometry shops in Karaj almost certainly relate to the widespread Iranian belief that Bahais are ‘unclean,’ and should not provide personal services to Shiah Muslims, who are ‘clean.’ This belief, and the government’s desire to prevent the Bahai minority prospering, have led to an extensive and largely secret set of rules specifying the jobs and sectors from which Bahais are banned. An order clarifying these rules, dating from 2010, says that Bahais must be barred from cultural, educational or financial institutions, and are not to be allowed to work in the sectors of periodicals, jewelry, watchmaking, print-making, tourist agencies, car rentals, publishing and bookshops, photography, film-making, internet gaming, computers, or internet cafes. They may not own printing works or hotels and other accommodation for travellers, or teach tailoring skills, or work in restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafe, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. Since this order was issued, the optometry sector has apparently been added to the list.

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

October 28, 2016

Two Bahai-run businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), October 27, 2016.

On October 26, agents from the Bureau of Public Places closed two businesses in Karaj because they were run by Bahais. They are an optometry workshop run by Mr. Rahmani (رحمانی) and a spectacles shop run by Mr. Behshad (بهشاد). Six other Bahai-run shops in Karaj have been closed in recent weeks. One of these was a luxury goods shop run by Amin Rahmani (امین رحمانی). This is apparently not the same as the optometry workshop run by a Mr. Rahmani in the latest report.

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

October 2, 2016

Six Bahai-run businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), September 29, 2016.

On September 29, officials from the Bureau of Public Places closed down four businesses because they were operated by Bahais. They are a car parts shop run by Javid Iqaneyan ( جاوید ایقانیان ), which was closed previously on September 17, and allowed to reopen a week later, a luxury goods shop run by Amin Rahmani (امین رحمانی), a lighting shop run by Sa`id Vajdani (سعید وجدانی) and a shop called “Elixir” run by Ata’ullah Shahidi (عطالله شهیدی). In the previous week they closed to more Bahai business in Karaj, which I neglected to report at the time: those of Fardad Ja`fari (فرداد جعفری) and Houman Shahidi (هومن شهیدی). Houman Shahidi is the brother of Ata’ullah Shahidi.

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

September 28, 2016

Two Bahai business closed, more given notice of closure


Bahai News (Persian), September 25, 2016.

On September 22, officials from the Bureau of Public Places closed in Omidieh county, in the southern province of Khuzestan, closed two Bahai-run businesses. They were managed by Mustafa `Ebadi (مصطفی عبادی) and Ayaz Afshari (ایاز افشاری ), and worked in the refrigeration sector. Omidieh county is one of the hottest inhabited places on earth, during the summer months. No reason was given for the closures. The businesses have licenses to operate that are valid for another three years. Other Bahai-run businesses in the Province of Khuzestan have been given a 10-day notice of closure.

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

September 23, 2016

Another Bahai business closed in Karaj


Bahai News (Facebook, Persian), September 17, 2016.

A vehicle parts shop in Karaj, run by Javid Iqaneyan ( جاوید ایقانیان ) and his son `Emad Iqaneyan (عماد ایقانیان), was closed by the authorities on September 17. The authorities had refused to renew its business licence, apparently because Mr Javad Iqaneyan is known as a Bahai and has a reputation for integrity and customer service. Three other Bahai-run businesses in Karaj were closed by the authorities on August 16 and 18 this year.

On June 23 this year, the Universal House of Justice issued new guidelines for the observance of Bahai Holy Days in Iran, which allow for various compromises between the Bahais’ desire to close their businesses on the Holy Days and authorities’ desire to reduce the visibility of Bahais in commercial centres. For example, Bahais who have businesses could close the business one day before and one day after the Holy Day as well as on the Holy Day, leave the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working, or have a worker present although no trading is done. But the guidelines reject the idea of seeking official permission to close for a day, where this is neither provided for in legislation nor imposed on non-Bahais, since this would be to accede to government interference in the freedom of conscience. Such compromises have to be worked out locally, and it is not yet clear whether fewer Bahai businesses are being shut down because of the Holy Days issue. The authorities also have a campaign — inconsistently enforced across the country — to exclude Bahais from offering personal services such as optometry to the Muslim population, because Bahais are believed to be “unclean.”

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

September 15, 2016

Aminullah Emani’s optician’s shop reopens

Filed under: Bahai rights,Economic discimination — Sen @ 16:38


Gold News (Persian), September 14, 2016.

On September 14, local authorities in Isfahan allowed an optometry business run by Aminullah Emani (امین الله ایمنی) to reopen, after closing it on September 11. The closure apparently did not relate to the issue of Bahai holy days, since the report says that Mr Emani was visited by local officials who wanted to confirm that he was a Bahai. He had apparently been running his business in such a way that his Bahai identity was not immediately apparent. The report says that while the business, which has been operating for decades, was allowed to reopen, the “difficulties” are not entirely resolved, and follow-up continues.

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

September 12, 2016

Optometry shop closed in Isfahan


Bahai News (Persian), September 12, 2016.

On September 11, local authorities in Isfahan closed down an optometry business run by Aminullah Emani (امین الله ایمنی). He had earlier been visited by local officials who wanted to confirm that he was a Bahai. They left, but returned a little later to shut his business down. Bahai-run optometry shops across Iran have been closed by the authorities in recent years, in an apparent effort to exclude Bahais from working in this sector.

Under Iran’s apartheid policy, Bahais are banned from government jobs and numerous industries, but the list of sectors from which Bahais are banned is formally a secret, and the list changes from time to time. On May 19, 2015, Saham News published a copy of the previously secret list of sectors from which Bahais are banned (by that time the list was already five years old, and incomplete). The order refers to a widely-held Iranian superstition that Bahais are “unclean,” and requires the police bureaus to block them from restaurants, cafeterias and catering, food ingredients and foodstuff sales, takeaways (Iranian-style), cafes, butchers shops, supermarkets, the production and sale of ice-cream, fruit juice, soft drinks, pastry and sweets, and coffee. At some stage optometry was apparently added to the list, and Bahai optometry shops began to be closed by the authorities. In January this year, the Vice President of the Iranian Optometry Association announced that Bahais are still involved in manufacturing and importing glasses, and have an active presence in this industry. This has been followed by the closure of many more Bahai optometrist’s shops.

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

August 30, 2016

Denial of pensions for Bahais in Iran


Aasoo (Persian), undated [August 2016]

The website Aasoo has published a document from the Ministry of Welfare and Social Security in Iran, dated 23 May 2011. The letter, written by the management of the national pension fund, responding to a petition from Mr. Nahid Mehrabkhani (ناهید مهراب‌خانی ) states that no pension can be paid out to him because, in February 1984 he was dismissed from employment by the Ministry of Education because of his Bahai beliefs. The denial of pensions for Bahais after the 1979 revolution was widespread, but documents of individual cases seldom surface. The document in this case implies the existence of a general rule that state pensions cannot be paid to Bahais.

In September 2013, Behzad Shokuhi ( بهزاد شکوهی ), then 75 years old, was beaten up and insulted at the Provincial Government Offices for Tehran province, where he had gone to seek payment of pension rights accumulated when he worked for the Ministry of Agriculture before the 1979 revolution. Like other Bahais in the civil service he was fired and banned from any further work for the government.
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Gold News has published another ruling, in which Mr Mansour Baqa’i (منصور بقايي) is denied not only pension rights but also the health insurance coverage for himself and his family. Unfortunately the year given in the signature date is illegible, to me: it might be ’95’ (this year) or ’75.

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

 

August 18, 2016

Three Bahai businesses closed in Karaj

Bahai News (Persian), August 16 and August 18, 2016.

Around August 8, three Bahais who run shops in Karaj were warned that their shops would be closed permanently. Their names are Mansur Enayati (منصور عنایتی), Husayn Shayegan (حسین شایگان) and Manouchir Enayati (منوچهر عنایتی ), all close relatives.

On August 16, local officials from the Bureau of Public Places sealed the optometry shop run by Mansur Enayati, which had been closed during Bahai holy days, and its business licence was therefore not renewed. It had a staff of eight, who are now unemplyed. On August 18, officials from the same office sealed Mr. Shayegan’s optometry shop. Its business licence had not been renewed, because it was run by a Bahai.

There is some ambiguity whether the apartheid rules in Iran allow Bahais to run optician’s shops: Bahais are barred from many economic sectors but the list of exclusions is intended to be secret, and when it has been leaked it is out of date. The most recent list of the activities banned for Bahais did not include optometry.

The report notes that Mr. Manouchir Enayati’s shop was also closed on August 18, without adding details of that case. It does say, however, that the officials said they were acting on order from “higher up” — usually a reference to the Ministry of Intelligence.

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

August 1, 2016

Bahai businesses closed and reopened in several cities

Filed under: Bahai rights,Economic discimination — Sen @ 11:11

Iran Press Watch, July 29, 2016.

Iran Press Watch reports that the businesses of two Bahais in the city of Miandoab were sealed on July 30. They are a refrigerator repair shop run by Ehsan Dhehni ( احسان ذهنی دارای), and a mobile telephone store run by Taher Maqsudi (طاهر مقصودی). The reasons for the closures are not clear.

However the seals on at least thirteen Bahai-run businesses in Qaemshahr, and others in Sari, have been removed for the third time. Also, the seals on the businesses of 28 Bahais in Urumieh were removed on 21 July 2016, nearly two months after they were sealed.

As prevously reported, the Universal House of Justice has recently said that, where local authorities demand promises or has made suggestions designed to reduce the visibility of the closure of Bahais businesses on the Bahai Holy Days, such as closing the business one day before and one day after the Holy Day as well as on the Holy Day, leaving the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working in the business, or having a worker present although no trading is done, the Bahais may in consultation with mature Friends “accept such conditions or suggestions providing they do not conflict with the spirit of the Bahai teachings.”

Persian sources: Miandoab reopened; Miandoab closure, opening in Qaemshahr and Sari ; reopening in Urumeyyeh ; reopening in Qaemshahr.

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

July 22, 2016

UHJ letter on economic restrictions on Bahais in Iran

Editorial, July 22, 2016.

On June 23, the Universal House of Justice issued a letter through its Secretariat, regarding the response of the Bahais in Iran to the economic restrictions imposed upon them. With regard to employees, it restates existing policies that a Bahai employee should try to take leave from work on the Bahai Holy Days on which work is suspended, but can work with a good conscience if this is refused. With regard to Bahai-run businesses and institutions, the letter marks an important development both in Bahai policy and in the willingness of authorities in some parts of Iran to allow Bahai businesses to close for Bahai Holy Days under certain conditions.

The letter refers to a description given by two Bahais of the economic restrictions imposed on the Bahai community in a particular city and to some questions they had presented to the Universal House of Justice. It praises them for their interest in the progress of the Faith, their willingness to endure hardships in the path of God and their determination to remain in Iran. The letter refers to the alarming level of the difficulties imposed on the Bahais in that city, and other places in Iran, because they have closed their shops and work places on the Bahai Holy Days. [The authorities have responded by closing the businesses down] These illegal closures by some authorities are undoubtedly part of a plan for the economic strangulation of the Bahai community in Iran, in the hope of weakening the resolve of the Bahais to remain in Iran. The world and the people of Iran now recognize that, despite this pressure and the diverse restrictions on them, the Bahais uphold their spiritual teachings and high hopes for Iran.

The letter refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, and states that the observation of Bahai Holy Days, including the suspension of other community activities, the closure of Bahai-owned businesses, and the suspension of work on the Holy Days form part of the religious practices of Bahais around the world. Every sincere believer is obliged to observe the Bahai Holy Days. In countries where freedom of religion and beliefs is respected, Bahais observe the Holy Days by taking leave from their work, just as the Shiah in Iran close their businesses on their religious festivals. For the Bahais in Iran, the implementation of this religious practice in present circumstances implies:

1. Bahai employees in whatever field, as well as students at all levels, should refrain from working on the holy days on which work is suspended, but if their superiors do not agree to this, they can do their work on that day with a clear conscience.

2. Bahais who control a business should close their businesses on the holy days on which work is suspended, even if they have employees who are not Bahais. However if this would have effects requiring prior arrangements to meet the needs of the public, they should endeavour to make such arrangements and should inform the authorities of the intention to close the business and of the measures they have taken.

3. In exceptional cases, entities linked to Bahais may continue to operate on Bahai Holy Days, for example where they provide services that are essential to society, to protect the life and health of persons, or provide a service that directly impacts the lives of the people around them, to such an extent that a short closure, even where prior arrangements had been made, might disrupt orderly life. In such situations, the Friends may continue the services offered by such institutions, but it is desirable to minimise the work involved in consultation with the authorities.

The authorities in some cities have demanded promises as regards the closure of Bahai businesses on Holy Days [as a condition for allowing a closed business to reopen], or have offered suggestions, such as closing the Bahai business one day before and one day after the Holy Day [as well as on the Holy Day], leaving the lights of a business turned on although nobody is working in the business, or having a worker present although no trading is done. The Bahais, who are always ready to show good will and to be flexible, may in consultation with mature Friends accept such conditions or suggestions providing they do not conflict with the spirit of the Bahai teachings.

With regard to the suggestion made elsewhere, that the Bahais should seek permission from the authorities to close their shops on Bahai Holy Days, if the civil law and trade regulations require such permission, it should be obtained, and the obligations of Bahai individuals in this case will be the same as those of employees and students. But if permission to close is neither required in the case of non-Bahais, nor mentioned in the relevant legislation, then it does not seem necessary to obtain it, as it would only be interference in individuals’ spiritual lives.

Commentary
The above is a precis and explanation rather than a translation. The most important change in practice, for the many Bahais in Iran who run small businesses, will be the possibility of observing the Bahai Holy Days while avoiding conflict with the authorities. The closures of Bahai businesses in Iran appear to have three motives, in a mix that varies from place to place. One is prejudice and superstitions: the belief that Bahais are unclean and that Muslims should not interract with Bahais. This is also the motive behind the exclusion of Bahais from economic sectors involving food, drink and personal services. When Bahais observe a Holy Day by closing their business, the authorities can withdraw the business licence and so reduce interraction between Shiah and Bahai individuals. The second motive is mentioned in the letter: the economic strangulation of the community with the intention of compelling as many Bahais as possible to leave Iran. The third is a desire on the part of some local authorities to remove the visible presence of Bahais from public spaces. A business that is visibly closed on Bahai Holy Days, and only on those days, is a visible statement that the Bahais are still there, despite over 30 years of Islamic education and unremitting state propaganda against the Bahais. A Bahai cemetery is also a visible presence: hence the destruction of old cemeteries near to towns and the allocation of sites for new Bahai cemeteries in remote places.

Since the Bahais observe the Holy Days not to make a public statement, but because of the holiness of the day and events it commemorates, it is logical that the Universal House of Justice says that the Bahais may, in consultation with mature Friends – who will help all the Bahai business in a locality to act together – accept conditions or suggestions from the authorities that are designed to lower the public profile of the Bahai businesses, providing these conditions do not conflict with the spirit of the Bahai teachings.

The Persian text of this letter is available in text format in the documents archive of my Bahai Studies blog, and in PDF format here.

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June 23, 2016

Bahai shop-keeper protests in Urumeyyeh


Bazdasht, June 22, 2016.

Mr. Navid Maraqhi (نوید مرغی), one of the Bahais in the city whose shops have been sealed by the local authorities because they are operated by Bahais, who have refused to convert to Islam, has protested by sitting outside his closed premises.

On December 29 2010, security agents raided the homes of five Bahai families in Urumeyyeh (Urmia), a substantial city situated between Tabriz and the Turkish border, and arrested Mr. Maraghi along with Mrs. Shiva Karimi (شیوا کریمی) and Mrs. Hamira Parvizi (حمیرا پرویزی). They were released on bail on January 19, 2011. They were charged with seeking to undermine national security, establishing meetings to teach the Faith, getting to know Muslims with the intention of teaching them, and confusing the minds of Muslims. They were sentenced to one year in prison, but because they had no previous criminal records, three months of each sentence was commuted to three year’s probation. [I have no record of them serving their sentences ~ Sen]

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

June 20, 2016

Bahai business owners in North West Iran required to convert to Islam

Gold News (translation, Iran Press Watch), June 18, 2016.

Since mid-May 2016, in different parts of the city of Urumiyyeh (Urmia) such as Madani and Khayyam Streets, twenty-seven Bahai shops have been sealed and the owners warned that “they have no right to work in that city until and unless they convert to Islam”. In the city of Sanandaj, six Bahai-run shops, including a stationery store, were sealed. Despite appeals to different organizations such as trade unions, municipal officials and national officials, authorities at the Office of Public Places and the police department, the owners of these shops in Urumiyyeh and Sanandaj were offered “conversion to Islam” as their only option.

Full translation at Iran Press Watch

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

June 16, 2016

Bahai-run shop in Shiraz closed, owner arrested


Bazdasht, June 16, 2016.

About a month ago, the bridal wear shop of Sara Ekhlaqi (سارا اخلاقی) in Shiraz was closed down, because photographs of women in wedding dresses had been posted to the shop’s Instagram account. These were called ‘obscene images.’ Agents took her Instagram password and used it to post a message on her Instagram account saying, “This account has been blocked for producing and distributing indecent images and instigation to behaviour incompatible with chastity.” The same message was attached to the door of her shop. The agents effectively took the place of the court and judge, deciding what was offensive and punishing her without a warrant or an opportunity for a hearing.

Two days ago, the Muslim holder of the business license [and presumably the owner of the premises] was contacted and told to go to the court with Sara Ekhlaqi, saying, “we have reviewed the case, you have no problems. Come to the court tomorrow for the legal procedure to reopen the shop.” A judge told them there was no problem, but they would have to participate in a “training class.” As the afternoon wore on, the pair had still not emerged. One of Mrs. Ekhlaqi’s neighbours reported that five or six agents posing as servicemen from the Water Department had rung her doorbell to gain admittance to the apartment building. They entered and brought a vehicle into the yard, and then contacted Mrs. Ekhlaqi’s husband to come for a signature for their work [The water company’s work on the appartment? ~ Sen]. When he opened the door, they entered and asked him whether he was a Bahai, and whether his wife was a Bahai. When he said they were, they said, “then your work is going nowhere.” The seized books and CDs relating to the Bahai Faith, poetry books and books on history and psychology, and departed over an hour later, saying that the books would be returned once they had been checked, and that Mrs. Ekhlaqi might be released that day; otherwise he was to contact the court the next day to arrange bail.

The holder of the business license was released that afternoon, and appeared very frightened. The word “Bahai” made his face cloud over. In the evening of the day she was arrested, Mrs. Ekhlaqi was allowed to telephone her husband, but there is no word of where she is being detained. The sources end by noting the polite behaviour of the various agents they dealt with, in the shop and in their home.

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

June 1, 2016

Campaign against Bahai businesses in Mazandaran continues

Various sources, late May, 2016.

Gold News reports the closure of four Bahai-run businesses in Babolsar, which had closed on May 28, when Bahais around the world commemorated the Ascension of Baha’u’llah (13 ‘Azamat in the Bahai calendar). The managers are named as Mr. Mithaq Leqa’i (میثاق لقایی), Farshid Hikmat Sho`ar (فرشید حکمت شعار), Peyman Sahand (پیمان سهند) and Shahin Sana’i (شاهین سنایی).

Gold News also reports the closure of one Bahai-run business in Babol, a stationary shop run by Mr. Baha’ul-Din Samimi (بهاالدین صمیمی).

Bahai News reports that the former employees of the Bureau of Public Places in the city of Qaemshahr, who allowed Bahai businesses there to re-open, have received threats from the Bureau’s Provincial Office, including even death threats. Bahai News states that an agent from the Ministry of Intelligence, who uses the name of “Ansar al-Husseini” (انصار حسینی; Companion of Imam Husayn), is personally responsible for maintaining records for the Bahais and has fabricated cases against them on charges such as “smuggling.”

Meanwhile the Bahais concerned have been told by the Bureau of Public Places that if they want to open their businesses, they should ask the (Universal) House of Justice (in Israel). This refers to recent claims in the state-sponsored Iranian media that Bahais obey the instructions of the House of Justice rather than those of the government in Iran, and calling the Bahai community “a state within the State.” In fact, just the opposite is true: the Bahai teachings specify that the Bahais “in whatever country they reside, … will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of [Bahai] laws and the application of [Bahai] principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, … to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.” (Source). Far from aiming to be a state within the State, the Bahais are fully committed to the separation of the institutions of religion from politics, and this is one reason for their persecution by the theocratic order in Iran. “Go ask the House of Justice” apparently means that the authorities have no intention of allowing Bahai businesses to re-open. Security officials have also told the Bahais that they will be dealt with under the law (which allows them to close their shops for up to 15 days per year, see Article 28.b of the Code of Trades Guilds); that their business have been closed down because they did not open on Bahai Holy Days, which amounts to “teaching the Bahai Faith;” and that their cases would be referred to the Revolutionary Court for prosecution.

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

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