Situation of Iranian Bahá’ís

Situation of Baha’is in Iran

Media reports

Reports in the news media about the situation of Iranian Baha’is

University World News4 September 2011

In an open letter to Iran's Minister for Higher Education, the Baha'i International Community has called for an end to "the unjust and oppressive practices" that bar Baha'is and other young Iranians from university.

Voice of America18 August 2011

The Iranian government continues its persecution of Iran's Baha'i community – the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran. Iranian state media recently reported the arrest of an unspecified number of Baha'is in cities across Iran, including Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Mashhad…Baha'is are not the only religious group subjected to persecution in Iran. Christians, Gonabadi dervishes, – even dissident Shiite clerics who believe that the political and religious realms should be kept separate – suffer from egregious violations of their human rights. …

The Jewish Chronicle17 August 2011

Iran's detention of 11 Baha'i academics has been condemned by the Board of Deputies and Union of Jewish Students. British Jews have repeatedly raised concerns about the treatment of Iran's Baha'i community…In a joint statement calling for the academics' immediate release, the Board and UJS said the detention was "totally unacceptable and a violation of Article 27 of the UDHR, which guarantees all citizens the right to freely 'participate in the cultural life of the community'.

Huffington Post, UK11 August 2011

“The Islamic Republic is tightening the noose. The authorities are motivated by a senseless determination to impoverish the Bahá'í community. The only crime of these eleven Baha’is is to help thousands of young students further their education, to pursue their dreams, and to serve as productive citizens. Iran is the birthplace of the Bahá'í Faith and Iran's Baha’is naturally feel responsible to the country they love. They will not leave Iran because it is their home.”

The Times29 July 2011

Few religions have known such vicious persecution in the land of their birth. The Baha’is, for the past 30 years, have suffered systematic discrimination and harassment by the Iranian authorities. Their leaders have been arrested and tortured, their homes raided, their teachings forbidden and their communities shunned as pariahs. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979 Iran’s 300,000 Baha’is have been denounced as apostates and infidels, enjoying none of the Koranic protections afforded to Christians and Jews. The intimidation has recently intensified pace. Three years ago seven Baha’i leaders were arrested, accused of spying for Israel, spreading corruption and acting against the State. Eventually all the charges were quashed except that of tending to the spiritual and social needs of their community — a charge that proves, senior Baha’is insist, that what lies at the heart of the persecution is the hatred by Islamist extremists of the Baha’i faith itself…

The Guardian10 July 2011

The Baha'i community has faced repression for years in an Iran that seeks to control private thought and beliefs, writes actor and comedian Omid Djalili.

The Sydney Morning Herald27 June 2011

ACADEMIC Didar Zowghi describes meeting one of her students in person last year as amazing. "I will never forget the first day that I met her, I was in tears, actually," she said. The student, Maryam (not her real name), 28, had been accepted as a postgraduate student at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), where Zowghi teaches software engineering. It was a meeting that was not supposed to be possible. On the basis of one exam question answer in Iran, Maryam was denied access to higher education. By listing her religion as Baha'i - the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority, which is not recognised by the government because it is perceived as heretical - she was not given her test scores needed to complete her application…

Der Standard20 June 2011

Baha’is in Iran risk a great deal if they want to study – although they find support in Austria. Vienna – The day before, they were still emailing each other; then, radio silence. …

The Star, Canada8 June 2011

“Thousands of political prisoners are being held in Iran, amid a wave of executions. One of the latest is Shahin Negari, an Iranian microbiologist who studied at University of Ottawa. His arrest was part of an ongoing crackdown on members of the Baha’i faith, who have been severely persecuted since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Last month the Iranian authorities arrested 16 Baha’is in an attempt to shut down the online Baha’i Institute of Higher Education, which grants degrees to members who are otherwise barred from studying at Iranian universities. “We don’t know what the charges against them are,” said Shahram Negari, Shahin’s brother, who now lives in Toronto. “They are all being held in Evin prison, but they have only been allowed one phone call each.””

The Washington Post6 June 2011

All evening May 21, the day Mahtab Mortezaei Farid graduated from George Mason University, she waited for her phone to ring. Her father, in Tehran and too far away to attend, had promised to call after her ceremony. For a man who had devoted much of his life to educating young people, the education of his daughter carried special meaning. A few days earlier, when they had last spoken, “he was excited, and he made me promise to send pictures,” she said. But the call never came, and Mortezaei Farid, 26, figured her father had forgotten. The next morning, she learned from Bahai friends in Iran what had happened: At the moment her father was supposed to be calling, he was being arrested.

Christian Today Australia2 June 2011

There has been a recent upsurge in the harassment of religious minorities in Iran…Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “The raids on the Baha’i community are wholly unacceptable and CSW urges the international community to press Iran to release those detained and to end its discriminatory educational policies. Despite being a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), by which countries pledge to uphold international standards of religious freedom for all citizens, Iran is clearly targeting both the Bahá’ís and certain Christian communities solely on account of their beliefs. CSW calls on the Iranian government to honour its commitments under the ICCPR and ensure that religious minorities are able to enjoy the freedoms outlined within the covenant.”

CNN31 May 2011

The three Iranian security officers rang the doorbell, politely informed the man of his arrest, thoroughly searched the house, confiscated high-tech gear and books, and whisked him away to the nation's notorious Evin Prison. The early Sunday morning raid took three hours. Now, every second seems like an eternity for the man's anguished family members, praying for his physical safety, hoping for his release, and getting their heads around the prospect of a long stint in prison, his relatives told CNN. His family says the reason for his arrest is his religion…

University World News25 May 2011

Teachers and staff at the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) have vowed to continue to give students deprived of the right to an education in Iran opportunities to obtain degrees, despite raids on its facilities and the arrest of at least 30 of its academics this week. "We will continue. There is a strong commitment by students and faculty to carry on. We cannot leave our students unable to go to universities and colleges," said a US-based Iranian professor who teaches online humanities degree courses for BIHE, and who spoke to University World News on condition of anonymity.

BBC14 May 2011

Saturday marks the third anniversary of the imprisonment of seven leaders of Iran's Bahai religious community. BBC Persian's Kambiz Fattahi in Washington says their treatment reflects the situation faced by many minority groups in Iran.

National Post, Canada13 May 2011

…the Iranian regime remains deaf to the condemnation by the international community. The human rights abuses visited on Iranian citizens, from democracy and human rights defenders to student, women, labour leaders and journalists continues with world attention on other more dramatic news stories. It has been said that the litmus test for genuine freedom in Iran will be the emancipation of the Baha’is. Events taking place around the world this weekend to mark the anniversary of the arrest of the seven, with special prayers being said at Baha’i gatherings in communities throughout Canada, aim to keep hopes of such a development alive.