Religious minority persecuted in Iran listen03/23/09 Jamie Kidder
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The BahÃ¡'Ã faith focuses on peace, justice and unity. But in Iran, BahÃ¡'Ãs are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. BahÃ¡'Ãs are barred from higher education, unable to find work, and sometimes arrested and executed.
In Clearwater yesterday afternoon, a local BahÃ¡'Ã center held a conference to raise awareness of this persecution.
The BahÃ¡'Ã religion was founded in Persia in 1844, and it has more than 5 million followers all over the world. Since its origins, BahÃ¡'Ãs have faced persecution by Islamic governments, especially in Iran, where BahÃ¡'Ãs are the largest minority group.
Yesterday, at the BahÃ¡'Ã center in Clearwater, a crowd of about 50 people filled the room as prayers were read for seven BahÃ¡'Ã 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. Theyâ€™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 BahÃ¡'Ã who has experienced this persecution first-hand.
Ahang Rabbani is the public information officer for the BahÃ¡'Ãs in Clearwater. We spoke to him about the history of persecution against the BahÃ¡'Ãs.
House Resolution 175 is a bill â€œcondemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its BahÃ¡'Ã minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.â€ The bill starts off by listing specific incidents in which Iran systematically persecuted BahÃ¡'Ãs, 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 BahÃ¡'Ã citizens.