Sen's daily

2014 04 to 06

April to June, 2014

Shahram Chiniyan transferred to high security block at Raja’i Shahr prison

HRANA, May 28

Shahram Chiniyan Miandoab (میاندوآب شهرام چینیان ), a Tehran Bahai serving an 8-year sentence, has been transferred from block 12 Raja’i Shahr prison, which holds male prisoners of conscience including many Bahais, to block 1 of the prison, which is reserved for serious crimes such as murder, rape and armed robbery. Mr. Chiniyan was first arrested in March 2009 and released on March 3, 2010, after using his business license as bail. He was sentenced to 70 lashes and 8 years in prison on a charge of insulting Islam, and began serving his sentence, first in Evin prison in Tehran and then in Raja’i Shahr prison, early in March, 2012, although the review court had not at that time confirmed his sentence. It appears that the accusation of insulting Islam was raised by his neighbour, following a legal dispute regarding the use of a right of way.

Shahab Dehqani reports to Evin prison

HRANA, May 26

On May 24, Shahab Dehqani (شهاب دهقانی), a Bahai from Tehran, reported to Evin prison to begin serving his four-year sentence. He was first arrested on July 11, 2012, in raids that netted nearly 20 Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. He was freed on bail in August, 2012.

Update May 27: HRANA reports that he was moved to Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj (about 50 km from Tehran) on May 25th. After a night in the quarantine wing, he was installed in Block 12, where the prisoners of conscience are detained. There are now 33 Bahai men detained for religious reasons in Block 12.

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah sentenced: one year

HRANA, May 22, 2014

`Adnan Rahmat-Penah ( عدنان رحمت‌پناه ) has been sentenced to one year in prison, and the sentence has been confirmed by the review court. In early June it was reported that he had been held in limbo in `Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz, as successive courts and judges passed his file, and responsibility for his trial, back and forth, and prison officials on one occasion refused to release him from prison to stand trial.

Sa’id Reza’i denied medical treatment

HRANA, May 22, 2014.

On May 19, Sa’id Reza’i (سعید رضایی), one of the seven Yaran (national facilitators) who are now entering their seventh year in prison, was to be transferred from Raja’i Shahr prison to hospital. He is 57 years old and suffers from a heart ailment, and recently had heart surgery. He was shackled and dressed in prison uniform, but prison officials prevented his transfer. Five prisoners of conscience at Raja’i Shahr are known to have died due to similar problems in obtaining medical care.

Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan free

Yaran-Iran (facebook), May 19, 2014

Golrokh and Shidrokh Firuzeyan (شیدرخ و گلرخ فیروزیان), who began serving 6-month sentences in Semnan’s central prison on January 8, 2014, have been released. They send greetings to their families and to the long-suffering Bahais of Iran, and hope for the freedom of all those who are imprisoned for no crime. Ardeshir Fena’eyan (اردشیر فناییان), who was arrested and tried with them, was sentenced to 8 months in prison. They were charged with various offenses, but eventually sentenced for “propaganda against the regime.”

Fu’ad Khanjani and Kamran Rahimiyan barred from meeting imprisoned relatives

HRANA, May 18, 2014

Prison officials have prevented Kamran Rahimiyan ( کامران رحیمیان ) and Fu’ad Khanjani (فواد خانجانی), two Bahai prisoners in Raja’i Shahr prison, from meeting members of their families who are imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Yesterday (May 17) it was announced that the two prisoners would be taken to Evin prison, but the visit was later denied on the basis that they refused to wear the standard prison uniform. Kamran Rahimiyan 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). She is held in Evin prison. The couple have a son, Artin (آرتین). Fu’ad Khanjani, who was a student of industrial management in Isfahan until his expulsion, is also serving a 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison, while his sister Leava Khanjani ( لواء خانجانی ) is serving a 2-year sentence in Evin prison.

Amanullah Mostaqim transferred to hospital

HRANA, May 15

Amanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, has been transferred to a hospital outside Raja’i Shahr prison. Another prisoner of conscience from the same prison, the 85-year-old Hasan Tafah (حسن طفاح) was also transferred to hospital. Mr. Mostaqim suffers from serious heart problems and has had coronary surgery. In recent months he has been moved back and forth between prison, hospital, and medical furlough. He began serving a five-year sentence for educating excluded groups on 20 May, 2013, in Evin prison, but was soon transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison.

Mother and son arrested in Tehran to serve prison terms

HRANA, May 13, 2014

Elham Faramani ( الهام فراهانی ) and her son Shamim Na’imi ( شمیم نعیمی) were arrested in Tehran on May 11 and taken to Evin prison. They face sentences of four and three years respectively. Security agents went to Shamim’s home on May 10, but did not find him there. Next day, as Shamim was getting read to present himself at the prison, agents arrived and arrested him. An hour later, several members of his family went to the gate of Evin prison to say goodbye to Shamim. An officer came and asked for Shimim’s mother,
Elham Faramani, saying that Shamim wanted to say goodbye to his mother, and she should come inside. When she did, she was arrested to begin serving her own prison sentence. Her husband `Adel Na`imi ( عادل نعیمی ), Shamim’s father, is serving a ten year term, and his younger brother `Afif ( عفیف نعیمی), is also a prisoner of conscience. He is one of the ‘Yaran’ (Bahai national facilitators) who are serving 20-year sentences.

Nasim Ashrafi arrested to begin her sentence

HRANA, May 6, 2014

Nasim Ashrafi ( نسیم اشرفی ), a Bahai from Tehran who was arrested in a wave of detentions of Bahais in Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz in early July, 2012, was arrested on May 6, to begin serving her one-year sentence. She was originally sentenced to 3 years in prison, in June 2013, but this was reduced by the review court. She was charged with propaganda against the regime and membership of Bahai organisations. She has been free on bail (set at one million tumans (300 euros, $US400)) since the end of July, 2012. She was arrested on the street yesterday morning, while on the way to a laboratory that performs medical tests.

Emanullah Mostaqim returns to prison

HRANA, May 4

Emanullah Mostaqim ( امان‌الله مستقیم ) one of the imprisoned staff members of the Bahai Open University (BIHE) in Iran, returned to prison on May 2, although he has a certificate from the Medical Examiner to say that he is unfit for prison. He was summoned by security officials and taken to prison when he responded. In recent weeks he has been receiving radiation therapy, and he suffers from a heart ailment. Doctors have told him he should live the rest of his life in a quiet environment without stress. He began serving a five-year sentence for educating excluded groups on 20 May, 2013, in Evin prison, but was soon transferred to Raja’i Shahr prison.

15 Bahais tried in Shiraz

Iran Green Voice, May 4, 2014

On April 28, a court in Shiraz dealt with the files of 15 Bahais from Shiraz. The charges against them have been variously reported as “acting against security” and “propaganda against the regime.” All fifteen have been free on bail. The lawyer acting for them, Giti Pourfazel (گیتی پورفاضل), said that he had submitted a defence by post. [The names of the 15 are not included in this report, but I assume they include Mezhdeh Falah, Eyman Rahmat-Penah, Mazhgan `Amadi, Farshid Yazdani, Sam Jaberi, Yekta Fahandezh, Sina Sarikhani, Kambiz Habibi and Kavus Samimi ( مژده فلاح، ایمان رحمت پناه، مژگان عمادی، فرشید یزدانی، سام جابری، یکتا فهندژ، کامبیز حبیبی، کاووس صمیمی، سینا ساریخانی ). Sentences in Iran are usually announced two to four weeks after the trial, and do not come into effect until the review court has approved them ~ Sen]

Shiraz cemetery destroyed despite restraining order

HRANA, May 3, 2014

The destruction of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz has proceeded despite an administrative order to stop work issued by the local body department responsible for town planning and public spaces. It would appear the order was issued at the request of representatives of the Bahai community before excavations had begun, but the “Imam group” who planned the destruction of the cemetery did not halt work. A member of the armed forces was with them on the site, and paid no attention to the order from the local government department.

Bahai cemetery in Ahvaz sealed off

HRANA, May 29, 2014

For the past two months, the Bahai cemetery in Ahvaz has been closed and the small road leading to it has been blocked by a barricade of pre-cast concrete panels. Thus far no official has been found who will admit responsibility. A month ago, the Bahais sought to bury a member of their community in the cemetery and were unable to do so. A community member told HRANA that they are pursuing the matter but have not been able to obtain any response.

Destruction of Shiraz cemetery has begun

BWNS, May 1, 2014

Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, has announced that reports indicate that the excavation at the the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, known as the Golestan Javid, has begun and that graves are being destroyed. Some 40 to 50 trucks are lined up to remove the earth and accelerate the work. “We are urgently calling on the international community to raise its voice in protest at this disturbing act. We also appeal directly to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to halt this act of desecration.” Some 950 Baha’is are buried in the cemetery, including the “ten Baha’i women of Shiraz,” who were hanged on 18 June 1983 at the height of the government’s campaign of execution against Baha’is.

Reports received so far indicate that workers for the Revolutionary Guards had completed an excavation some 1.5 meters deep and 200 square meters in area. The hole is near a number of very old gravesites in the western part of the cemetery but is not yet deep enough to have disturbed the remains, it is believed.

Ms. Dugal said the local Baha’is have made appeals directly to the Revolutionary Guards asking that it construct the proposed building on the areas of the site where there are no graves – and turn the areas with the graves into a green space, leaving the dead undisturbed.

“Appeals were made to various city and provincial authorities, including the commander in chief of Revolutionary Guard, the municipality of Shiraz, the Friday prayer Imam, the governor of the city, Iran’s prosecutor general and the head of the judiciary, with no results,” said Ms. Dugal.

Owned and used by the Baha’is of Shiraz since the early 1920s, the site was confiscated by the government in 1983, at which time its grave markers were leveled and its main buildings destroyed. Its ownership has since changed. Three years ago, the provincial office of the Revolutionary Guards announced it had taken over the site, and a sign was posted indicating that it planned to build a “cultural and sports building” there.

Between 2005 and 2012, at least 42 Baha’i-owned cemeteries in Iran were attacked in some manner. These attacks, often carried out with implicit if not direct government support, have involved the firebombing of mortuary buildings, the toppling of gravestones, the uprooting of landscape shrubbery, the spray-painting of anti-Baha’i graffiti on cemetery walls, and the exhumation of bodies. Similar symbolic violence through the destruction of Bahai and Jewish graves has been documented in the Qajar era.

Preparations for the destruction of Bahai cemetery in Shiraz

HRANA, April 30, 2014

On April 28, a mechanical digger and front-end loader were moved onto the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, known as the Golestan Javid, in apparent preparation for levelling the cemetery to build a cultural centre. The cemetery contains the graves of Bahais who were executed in the 1980s. Latest reports are that the machinery is still in place, but no further steps have been taken.

New film documents Bahai community life in Iran

Iran Wire, April 26, 2014

The documentary “Light a Candle” (شمعی روشن کن) by Maziar Bahari ( مازیار بهاری) is the first to tell the history of Bahai community life in Iran. It tells of the Babis and Bahais who were tortured in the Qajar era, of the slanders and insinuations they suffered from ordinary people who, in the Pahlavi era, were led by the Shiah divines, and of the period after the 1979 revolution. After the revolution, and even today, Iranian Bahais are considered second-class citizens in Iran, and are deprived of the right to employment and university education. The film is to be released on the first of May, in Persian. The Iran Wire site has a trailer, which plays first with Persian subtitles, then with English subtitles.

Wilmette residents say traffic problem at Bahai [temple] worsening. Good faith solution sought

Wilmette residents say traffic problem at Bahai [temple] worsening. Good faith solution sought

Chicago Tribune, April 28, 2014

Wilmette residents living near the Bahai House of Worship gathered at Village Hall recently, voicing concerns that a proposal to reconfigure the iconic venue’s parking lot could ramp up traffic on what they say is an already-congested local street. The parking lot is on public land, leased by the Bahais. Changes are required to accommodate bus parking and to make room for parking for the disabled and an access ramp. Wilmette resident Martin Dawson said parking-related headaches on Linden have been a problem for years, and predate the recent construction of a Baha’i Welcome Center, which is slated to open in the fall.

“Hopefully, the Bahai will negotiate something in good faith, because the parking situation on Linden has just gotten worse over the years,” Dawson said. “When you live near the temple, you start to think of it as an attractive nuisance.”

Linden Avenue residents said tour buses carrying visitors often park on their narrow, residential street, making it impossible to pull in and out of their driveways and swallowing up the available street parking for their own guests. “On the weekends, we get not only the tourist buses, but we get limousines bringing wedding parties out to take pictures in the Bahai garden,” Dawson said. “Between them and the people coming to see the temple, it creates an awful lot of traffic.”

Scott Conrad, project manager for the Bahai House of Worship, said that 95 percent of the visitors to the landmark on the northwest corner of Sheridan Road and Linden are not members of the Bahai community, which he said recently reduced its staff by 35 positions and who were relocated off-site to ensure the Wilmette property is used primarily for education and worship.

Nasim Baqeri taken to prison

Radio Yekjahan, April 27, 2014

Nasim Baqeri (نسیم باقری) has been arrested by security forces who came to her home in Tehran. She was taken to prison [presumably, Evin Prison ~sen] to begin serving a four-year sentence for “acting against national security through membership of the Baha’i Institute BIHE.” She was one of 10 Bahais associated with the Bahai Open University (BIHE) who were tried in Tehran on March 12, 2013.

Afshin Heiratiyan joins hunger strike

HRANA (English), April 26, 2014

Afshin Heiratiyan (افشین حیرتیان), a Bahai serving a 4-year sentence in Raja’i Shahr prison near Tehran, has joined a protest by 19 prisoners of conscience in the prison, who have been on hunger strike since the morning of April 23rd in solidarity with the political prisoners of ward 350 of Evin prison, in Tehran. Mr. Heiratiyan was one of six Bahai prisoners held in section 350 of Tehran’s Evin prison who, on August 5, 2012, were transferred without warning to Raja’i Shahr prison in Karaj, just west of Tehran, where most of the Yaran, and a number of BIHE teachers are also being held.

The group of prisoners at Raja’i Shahr have joined many others in protesting the brutality of a raid on cell block 350 at Evin prison, which houses prisoners of conscience. Those injured in the raid included at least one Christian prisoner, but apparently no Bahai prisoners. It is reported that Gholam Hossein Esmaili, the head of the Iran Prisons Organization, was promoted to a new position shortly after he had appeared on state television denying that anything out of the ordinary had happened in Evin Prison. He was reassigned on the instructions of Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, who himself won notoriety recently when he denied that Iran executes juveniles or persecutes Bahais.

Short link:

20 Bahais receive heavy sentences in Yazd

HRANA, April 23, 2014

A court in Yazd has sentenced 20 Bahais to a total of 78 years in prison. On August 1, 2011, agents from the Ministry of Intelligence raided many Bahai homes in the cities of Yazd , Isfahan, Kerman and Arak, and arrested 17 Bahais. Two weeks later, three more Bahais were arrested in Yazd. After one month in detention, they were all released on bail. About a year later they were tried, and given sentences totaling 78 years. These sentences have only now been confirmed by the court of review. They are as follows:

Saba Golshan ( صبا گلشن ): five years in prison and one year’s probation.
Shahram Eshraqi, Shahram Falah, Navid Haqiqi, Eyman Rashidi and Khosrow Dehqani (شهرام اشراقی، شهرام فلاح، نوید حقیقی، ایمان رشیدی و خسرو دهقانی): four years in prison and one year’s probation.
Faribourz Baghi, Nateq Na’imi, Fariba Ashtari, Shabnam Motahed, Vida Haqiqi [aka Vida Parvini? ~Sen] (
فریبرز باقی، ناطق نعیمی، فریبا اشتری، شبنم متحد، ویدا حقیقی): three years in prison and one year’s probation.
Farahnaz Misaqian, Fara Baqi, `Azam Motahari, Mehran Eslami, Sohrab Naqipour, Adhar Pourkhoursand, Naghmeh Farabi, Taher Rouhani and Sasan Haqiri (فرهناز میثاقیان، فرح باقی، اعظم مطهری، مهران اسلامی، سهراب نقی‌پور، آذر پورخرسند، نغمه فارابی، طاهر روحانی، ساسان حقیری): two years in prison and one year’s probation.

Ridvan message released

Editorial, April 21, 2014

The 2014 Ridvan message from the Universal House of Justice is available in English at the official website. High points of the 3-page message include a report on the way the planned construction of a local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (House of Worship) on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu has energised the Bahais and engaged the wider community. It is reported that a third of the island’s 30,000 inhabitants have participated in conversations about the significance of the House of Worship. “The friends are actively exploring, with the rest of the island’s inhabitants, what it means for a Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, a “collective centre for men’s souls”, to be raised up in their midst. With the active support of traditional leaders, Tanna islanders have offered no less than a hundred design ideas for the Temple…

For more information on the role of devotional meetings and the local House of Worship in Bahai communites, see the compilation “Exploring the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar” at the Bahai Library Online.

Sonya Ahmadi returns to prison in Mashhad

HRANA, April 17, 2014

Sonya Ahmadi ( سونیا احمدی ), returned to Vakil Abad prison in Mashhad on April 17, after three months’ furlough. She began serving her 5-year sentence, on charges of teaching the Bahai Faith and membership of the Bahai community, on September 2, 2012, but she was released early on January 10, 2014, with the promise that her complete freedom would follow. However on April 10, 2014, she was telephoned to say she would have to continue serving her prison sentence. No exact reason has been given, but her family was told that the three months she had been free were permitted by the Ministry of Intelligence, but now she must complete her sentence.

Another Bahai business closed in Semnan

HRANA, April 13, 2014

An optician’s shop owned by Afrasayab Sobhani (افراسیاب سبحانی) was closed by the authorities in Semnan on April 8. No reason was given. Mr. Sobhani is serving a one-year prison term, and one of the other Bahais of Semnan has been running the business so that his family has the means of livelihood. Because of restrictions on Bahai employment and the economic sectors in which they may have businesses, a number of Bahais in Iran have opened to optician’s shops, but in recent years several of these have been closed. On November 29, 2012, another optician’s shop run by Mr. Akbar Por-hoseini ( اکبرپورحسینی ), a Bahai in Semnan, was raided. In that case, authorities not only confiscated his entire stock, valued at 2 billion rials (125,000 euros, 162,000 US dollars), he was fined 3.6 billion rials (225,000 euro, 293,000 US dollars) after a secret trial.

Bishop of Coventry welcomes Ayatollah Tehrani’s symbolic gesture

Church of England news site, April 9, 2014

The Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, has described as a ‘courageous step’, the decision by a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran to gift to the Bahai community an important religious art work, as a sign of support. Bishop Cocksworth, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop in the Lords on foreign policy, said:
“I’m heartened to learn of the recent decision by Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani to gift to the Bahais an illuminated calligraphic work from the Writings of Baha’u’llah…. Given the systemic and long standing suffering experienced by the Baha’i community in Iran, this is an imaginatively courageous step by a senior Iranian Islamic scholar.”

Bishop Christopher, who is also a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human rights and International Religious Freedom, added:
“Ayatollah Tehrani’s action reminds us all that despite the dehumanising nature of many of today’s conflicts, religious leaders have a shared responsibility to encourage freedom of religion and belief and to foster a deeper respect for human dignity. I very much hope and pray that this generous gift will assist in the flourishing of a culture of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence in Iran.”

Text in Persian (Mohabat News)

Another Bahai student expelled from Birjand University

HRANA, April 10, 2014

Mazyar Malaki (مازیار ملاکی), a student studying machine manufacturing at Birjand University, has been expelled because of his Bahai beliefs. He was summoned by the University’s security office and asked to sign a statement that he would not participate in Bahai activities or follow the directions of the Universal House of Justice. When he refused to sign this, he was told that he was barred from the university until further notice, and that the final decision would be communicated to him.

15 Bahais face trial in Shiraz

ILNA, April 7, 2014

Giti Pourfazel (گیتی پورفاضل), the lawyer for 15 Baha’is arrested in Shiraz in 2010, has reported that their trial is scheduled for April 28th. They have been charged with propaganda against the regime, and are presently free on bail. [The names of the 15 are not included in this report, but I assume they include Mezhdeh Falah, Eyman Rahmat-Penah, Mazhgan `Amadi, Farshid Yazdani, Sam Jaberi, Yekta Fahandezh, Sina Sarikhani, Kambiz Habibi and Kavus Samimi ( مژده فلاح، ایمان رحمت پناه، مژگان عمادی، فرشید یزدانی، سام جابری، یکتا فهندژ، کامبیز حبیبی، کاووس صمیمی، سینا ساریخانی ) ~ Sen]

Senior Iranian cleric gifts illuminated text by Baha’u’llah to the Bahai community

Bahai World News Service, April 7, 2014 (abbreviated)

In a symbolic and unprecedented move, Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani, a prominent Muslim cleric in Iran, announced today that he has gifted to the Baha’is of the world an illuminated work of calligraphy of a paragraph from Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-e Aqdas. Ayatollah Tehrani states on his website (in Persian, and translated here) that he prepared the calligraphy of the verse as a “symbolic action to serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing human beings, of peaceful coexistence, of cooperation and mutual support, and avoidance of hatred, enmity and blind religious prejudice.” Ayatollah Tehrani presents this exquisite gift to the Baha’is of the world, particularly to the Baha’is of Iran, who he says “have suffered in manifold ways as a result of blind religious prejudice.” He further states that this act is “an expression of sympathy and care from me and on behalf of all my open-minded fellow citizens.”

The excerpt that Ayatollah Tehrani chose to cite in the gift is taken from Baha’u’llah’s Kitab-i-Aqdas – “Most Holy Book”. It reads “Consort with all religions with amity and concord, that they may inhale from you the sweet fragrance of God. Beware lest amidst men the flame of foolish ignorance overpower you. All things proceed from God and unto Him they return. He is the source of all things and in Him all things are ended.”

Ms. Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Baha’i International Community at the United Nations, called the gift “a most welcome and hopeful development with possible implications for the coexistence of the peoples of the world.” … “The Baha’i International Community is deeply touched by this act of high-mindedness and the sentiments of religious tolerance and respect for human dignity that prompted it.”

On previous occasions, Ayatollah Tehrani has with great courage publicly voiced concern about the ongoing and severe persecution of religious minorities, including the Baha’is in Iran.

Full BWNS story
Persian report (PCED)

“No excuse is possible”

Editorial, April 6

Two recent news reports, in the Columbian Missourian and the Columbia Tribune have drawn attention to Tyree Byndom’s unusual way of ‘campaigning’ for a seat on the Columbia City Council. Because he is a Bahai, he is not campaigning, although his name is on the ballot. His voice has even dropped from the airwaves: he has taken a break from his day job as a talk show host.

I would certainly not suggest that he should be elected just because he is a Bahai, or that Bahai voters in Columbia should give him any greater credibility because of his faith. So why mention him on a blog dedicated to world Bahai news? He is not the first Bahai to run for public office, even in the US, but his faith and the reasons why he has refrained from self-praise or any critique of other candidates have been more widely publicised than any previous case I know of, and this is helping to correct a misconception about Bahais’ participation in politics. The Columbia Tribune article states, “the Baha’i faith encourages its members to be politically active and vote in elections if they are allowed to do so by secret ballot.” It does not give a source, but seems to be reflecting these words of Abdu’l-Baha:

Thou hast asked regarding the political affairs. In the United States it is necessary that the citizens shall take part in elections. This is a necessary matter and no excuse from it is possible. My object in telling the believers that they should not interfere in the affairs of government is this: That they should not make any trouble and that they should not move against the opinion of the government, but obedience to the laws and the administration of the commonwealth is necessary. Now, as the government of America is a republican form of government, it is necessary that all the citizens shall take part in the elections of officers and take part in the affairs of the republic.
(Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 342)

The same article quotes Glen Fullmer, a spokesman for the Baha’is of the United States, as saying “that the faith takes part in political advocacy work, championing environmental stewardship and the advancement of women’s rights, among other causes. What the Baha’is want to avoid, he said, is divisiveness that tends to arise from election campaigns. … It’s not like there’s a complete aloofness of the political process,” Fullmer said of the faith. “It’s more of wanting to avoid this disunity we see in the world.”

Yet many Bahais, in the past and perhaps today, have taken a stance of complete aloofness from the political process. In 1993 a former member of the Universal House of Justice, David Hofman, spoke at the Maxwell International School on the subject of “Theocracy: Divine provisions for governance in the World Order of Baha’u’llah.” In audio tapes of these talks he called democracy “baloney” and boasted that he had never voted in a non-Bahai election (tape 11, side 2, Q&A). The Bahai community has come a long way in 20 years, from David Hofman to Tyree Byndom and those like him. And that’s the news I would like to draw attention to.

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