14. BLACK DAYS FOR BAHA'I'S in IRAN
Something is very wrong with the wonderful country of Persia that gave us exquisite architecture, illumined poets and extraordinary contributions to our collective human history. No longer is it taking a lead in the world.
Perhaps it is not surprising that such ancient cultures and institutions are slow to change.
In contrast with this long and inspiring history the Baha'i Faith, with its origins in Iran, is the world's youngest religion. However, the laws of that country of its birth do not even recognize the Baha’i Faith as a religion.
Dating from the time when international attention became focussed on TV footage of a humbled deposed Shah of Iran overcome by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Baha'is have been the target of government policy.
During that first decade of persecution, more than 200 were killed or executed.
Hundreds more were tortured or imprisoned, and tens of thousands lost jobs, access to education, and other rights – solely because of their religious belief.
Despite fresh hope engendered by the 2013 coming to power of President Hassan Rouhani who promised to end religious intolerance, a committee of the United Nations General Assembly was shortly impelled to condemn Iran for its continuing violations of human rights - specifically of Baha'is, highlighting a continuing economic and educational discrimination - and calling on Iran to release the more than 97 Baha’is who are today unjustly held in Iranian prisons.
Other restrictions include exclusion from university education, and prevention from working in a wide range of jobs including those in government offices and the private sector. Last year a hundred shops belonging to Baha’is were closed, and 115 were banned from attending universities.
Youth is a time of idealism, of opportunity to begin the realisation of dreams, preparing for future possibilities. Instead, BahaiNews website reported that efforts by Bahai youth to enter university often led to long-term imprisonment.
Baha’is who have succeeded in passing their entrance exams have been told by officials that they might be able to study if they write a letter to disavow their faith; most won’t, under any circumstances.
So what are the teachings of Baha'u'llah that are so deserving of extinction?
"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations, that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened... what harm is there in this?... these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the 'Most Great Peace' shall come". - Baha'u'llah.
This news item will make you love Muslims as much as I do.
This short but comprehensive animation explains the situation of Baha'is in Iran.
And here is an inspiring project by concerned non-Baha'is in support of those affected.