Religious minority persecuted in Iran

03/23/09 Jamie Kidder
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

The Bahá'í faith focuses on peace, justice and unity. But in Iran, Bahá'ís are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. Bahá'ís are barred from higher education, unable to find work, and sometimes arrested and executed.

In Clearwater yesterday afternoon, a local Bahá'í center held a conference to raise awareness of this persecution.

The Bahá'í religion was founded in Persia in 1844, and it has more than 5 million followers all over the world. Since its origins, Bahá'ís have faced persecution by Islamic governments, especially in Iran, where Bahá'ís are the largest minority group.

Yesterday, at the Bahá'í center in Clearwater, a crowd of about 50 people filled the room as prayers were read for seven Bahá'í leaders who are currently imprisoned in Iran as a live cellist played somber music. A screen behind the podium gave a brief biography of the imprisoned, most of whom came from rather affluent backgrounds and had families.

The seven prisoners are facing charges of espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic. They’ve been in prison since last spring, and their trial dates are not known. If convicted, they are likely to face harsh prison sentences and possibly execution.

Farzad Azizi is a third-generation Bahá'í who has experienced this persecution first-hand.

Ahang Rabbani is the public information officer for the Bahá'ís in Clearwater. We spoke to him about the history of persecution against the Bahá'ís.

House Resolution 175 is a bill “condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá'í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” The bill starts off by listing specific incidents in which Iran systematically persecuted Bahá'ís, and then it condemns the government of Iran for its actions and calls upon for the release of prisoners arrested based on their religion. It also calls on the president and the International Community to condemn the actions of Iran regarding their treatment of their Bahá'í citizens.

comments powered by Disqus