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The Right To Believe, The Right To Freedom in Iran

The Right To Believe, The Right To Freedom in Iran

Bahá'ís have successively been accused of spying for Israel and other countries. "The international headquarters of the Bahá'í Faith is based today within the borders of modern-day Israel purely as a result of the banishment of the Faith's founder, Baha'u'llah, by the Persian and Ottoman empires in the mid-19th century. In 1868, 80 years before the state of Israel was founded, Baha'u'llah was exiled to perpetual imprisonment in the city of Akka."

"If the Bahá'ís are accused of spying for Israel, then why do they not hide their identity? Why were hundreds previously executed for refusing to recant their faith and embrace Islam? Why have thousands been deprived of their jobs, pensions, businesses and educational opportunities? Why have holy places, shrines and cemeteries been confiscated and demolished? All of this demonstrates a concerted attempt to destroy a religious community," Ms. Ala'i, Bahá'í International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva said.

Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, prepares for her role as an "active participant" on 23 June 2005 at the United Nations during informal interactive hearings with the UN General Assembly (BWNS)Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations in Geneva, prepares for her role as an "active participant" on 23 June 2005 at the United Nations during informal interactive hearings with the UN General Assembly (BWNS)"Accusations of 'insulting religious sanctity' are more about the Iranian government's own intolerance of other religions or beliefs than any imaginary disrespectfulness of Bahá'ís towards Islam. It is well known that Bahá'ís recognize the divine origin of Islam and accept Muhammad as a true Prophet. "The accusations are false, and the government knows this," said Diane Ala'i, the seven Bahá'ís detained in Tehran should be immediately released."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - Reports of a trial date for Bahá'í leaders falsely accused of espionage. According to information conveyed by the authorities in Evin prison to the family members of the seven Bahá'ís who have been imprisoned in Tehran, Iran, for over a year, their, Trial date has been set for 11 JULY 2009. This information has been provided to the family members only orally and, as information conveyed by officials concerning the judicial process has often proved unreliable, it is possible that the Iranian authorities may find some reason to change the trial date.

Update on the Situation of the Yaran - On Tuesday, June 23, 2009, Human Rights Activists in Iran provided an alarming update on the situation of the former Bahá'í leaders, known as Yaran, which appears below in translation: After more than a year of incarceration, the situation appears to be of profound concern.

Evin Prison in IranEvin Prison in IranAccording to reports received [by HRA - Human Rights Activits in Iran], the seven leaders of the Bahá'í community continue to languish in “temporary” incarceration in a high-security section of Evin prison, known as section 209. These seven are: Mahvash Sabet, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Saeid Rezaie, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Afif Naeimi.

In addition to psychological pressures, such as, routinely renewing their “temporary” imprisonment, or keeping them in a high-security facility which naturally imposes considerable restrictions on the seven individuals, it is reported that their meal portions has now been reduced considerably to the point that their health is at serious risk. At the same time, prison authorities refuse to permit the families of prisoners to provide the much-needed provisions which would enable them to sustain the brutal conditions of their imprisonment.

Moreover, with the massive arrest of political and civil activists in recent days in Iran and curtailment of telephonic contact of prisoners in Evin with the outside world, the families of these prisoners of conscience have become deeply worried about the condition of their loved-ones.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin EbadiNobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin EbadiThe seven -- six arrested on May 14, 2008, and another arrested in March 2008 -- have been charged with espionage for Israel, propaganda against Iran, and "insulting religious sanctities," an Iranian deputy prosecutor said in February. Now Bahá'í officials say families of those imprisoned have been told that the seven may face the charge of "spreading of corruption on Earth," a count that the group says "carries the threat of death" under Iran's penal code. Kit Bigelow, director of external affairs of the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, told CNN the seven have not had a trial or access to their lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. She said that while they have been told of their charges, they haven't gone to court to hear the charges. Other governments and groups, including the United States, have criticized the accusations and the jailing. In February, the U.S. State Department issued a condemnation of the accusations, saying they "are part of the ongoing persecution" of Iranian Bahá'ís. The Bahá'í community -- which numbers approximately 300,000 -- has been persecuted in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where they have been regarded as apostates and heretics. A recent survey by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal agency, documented the repression of the group in Iran. (source: Written By Joe Sterling CNN-

Mona Mahmudnizhad (September 10, 1965 - June 18, 1983) was a Persian Bahá'í who was sentenced to death in Iran because of her love for humanityMona Mahmudnizhad (September 10, 1965 - June 18, 1983) was a Persian Bahá'í who was sentenced to death in Iran because of her love for humanityThe Right to Believe!
By Gloria Yazdani-June 18th, 2009

June 18, marked the anniversary of martyrdom of 10 brave and devoted Bahá'í ladies in Shiraz, Iran Press Watch is pleased to mark their sacrifice of love with the following essay. (Source: Iran Press Watch)

Dedicated to the loving memory of the 10 women who were put to death in Shiraz on 18 June 1983 because of their adherence to the Baha’i Faith!

Pondering upon the voyage that has led humankind to its present-day place and purpose, one cannot overlook the reality that advancement and innovation, nobility and fulfilment, comfort and gratification, have all come to us by means of supreme sacrifice.

"I wish I had not only one but a thousand lives to give in the path of God"  -- Mona  Mahmudnizhad and her father"I wish I had not only one but a thousand lives to give in the path of God" -- Mona Mahmudnizhad and her fatherMany have walked the face of the earth throughout the years and centuries, and — partaking of the provisions and treasures offered by creation — have passed into the vastness of forgetfulness; yet there are those who have covered – with mighty strides – the same distance in order to leave behind a mark of distinction, not only by the way they lived but also by the manner in which they died … Those who have not merely walked upon the earth, but rather irrigated it with the tide of love that has surged in their hearts for humanity.

The world today stands on a ground more solid than ever before for the realisation of the need for a brotherhood that is worthy of humankind; and speaks more proudly than ever for the liberty it now offers humanity in the recognition of the rights of every single human being!  Many have indeed been the pure souls of every race, religion and creed who have impressed their prints on the book of creation with the suffering they have endured for freedom and liberty and with the sacrifices they have made in the path of justice and equity.

New York Times Coverage of the Execution's back in 1983 © NY TimesNew York Times Coverage of the Execution's back in 1983 © NY TimesAmongst such noble souls who stood up for their right – and the right of others – to believe were 10 Iranian women who lived amongst us not so far back in history; and gave their lives in utter submission on 18 June 1983 in the nation’s Southern city of Shiraz for refusing to deny the truth of a religion they had espoused.  To these women, the Muslim clergy in Iran gave four chances to simply state in mere words their recantation of their faith; however, instead they decided to drink from the chalice of martyrdom and to adorn the pages of history with the crimson that was the beautiful colour of the blood streaming out from their loving hearts.

One of these 10 women, a mere child of 16, by the name of Mona Mahmudnizhad, spoke of liberty and the right to believe only months before her martyrdom in one of her school essays.

Mrs. Nusrat Yalda’i, 54 years old, Mrs. ‘Izzat Janami Ishraqi, 50 years old, Miss Roya Ishraqi, 23 years old, Mrs. Tahirih Siyavushi, 32 years old, Miss Zarrin Muqimi, 28 years old, Miss Shirin Dalvand, 25 years old, Miss Akhtar Sabit, 20 years old, Miss Simin Sabiri, 23 years old, Miss Mahshid Nirumand, 28 years old.

The Bahá'í Faith is an independent world religion which began in the Iran in the 19th century.  In 1844 (1260 A.H.) Siyyid Ali-Muhammad Shirazi, declared himself to be the Hidden Imam, the Qa'im or Mahdi expected by Shi'ite Muslims. In 1850 the Bab was executed in Tabriz and for a number of years the Babi community was in disarray until in 1863 Baha'u'llah declared himself to be not only He Whom God Shall Make Manifest foretold by the Bab [man yazhirullah], but the Promised One of all religions. The Baha'i Faith therefore bares the same relationship to Islam that Christianity has to Judaism. Bahá'ís believes in the divine origin of all religion, but sees their social teachings of revelation as varying according to the needs of the time and place.

As a graduate student I sometimes hired Iranian students to assist me with translating certain Persian Bahá'í histories. My preference, of course was to use Iranian Bahá'ís who would be more familiar with the vocabulary specific to our Faith, but there were occasions when I resorted to non-Bahá'ís.

On one occasion, an intelligent, rather secularized young man of Muslim background was reading a Bahá'í text in Persian with me when he awkwardly asked me the following question: “Is it true that Bahá'ís believe that before a man gives away an apple, he should taste it first.”

I knew better than to take his question literally, but I wasn't about to guess at what he meant, so I said, “Farhad if you want an answer to your question you're going to have to be clearer.” After fumbling around a bit he finally asked me if it were true that Bahá'ís believed that a father should sleep with his daughter before he gave her away in marriage. At that point I said, “Think, for a minute, Farhad. If you were going to make up stories to discredit a religion, what sort of things would you say?” He then admitted that he had figured the stories weren't true but he couldn't be sure. In Iran, Bahá'ís have been challenged and blocked since the founding of their faith. (Source:

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