Intellectual Othering & the Baha’i Question in Iran

The University of Toronto, in conjunction with the Foundation for Iranian Studies and the Toronto Initiative for Iranian Studies, is sponsoring a conference about the Baha’is in Iran.

The conference will take place July 1-3rd 2011 and offer an array of speakers, many of which should be familiar already to the readers of this blog: Abbas Amanat, Moojan Momen, Payam Akhavan, Muhammad Afnan, etc.

Here is the synopsis of the conference’s topic:

As a genuinely Iranian intellectual and religious movement emerging in the mid-nineteenth century, the Baha’i Faith has encountered relentless and sustained repression and scapegoating in the country of its origin. Exploring various aspects of the Baha’i Question in Iran over the past century and a half, the scholars participating in this international conference will critically reflect on a wide range of issues related to the similarities and differences of Shi’i Islam and Baha’i Faith, the role of Baha’is in Iranian cultural and intellectual life, and the fact of their continued repression and intellectual Othering.

Since a prominent Baha’i blogger will be attending, hopefully we can read about the experience soon after the conference. If you’re in the Toronto area or can travel and are interested to attend, the cost is minimal ($100 Canadian) – Registration.

The event’s facebook page also contains more information, including many videos of the upcoming presenter’s past speeches and related research.

UPDATE: You can view the videos of the conference presentations here, both in translated English as well as the original Persian.

  • Concourse on Low

    A conference on “othering” that features Moojan Momen, the Baha’i author of an article on Baha’i apostates?! haha! The irony is TOOO much!

    Baha’u’llah is the ultimate practitioner of “othering” when he incessantly slanders anyone who disagrees with him as being motivated by “idle and vain imaginings.”

  • Brendan Cook

    If any of this blog’s readers is going there, they should look me up and I’ll show them some local hospitality.  The University of Toronto has been my backyard for eight years: I gave 46 lectures in the theatre where the conference is being held.  Contact me at:

    brendanccook@gmail.com

  • Wahid Azal

    Concourse on Low, they need to spend the monies allocated to them by the assorted Neo-Liberal Foundations and North American corporate big lobby organizations funding their propaganda and fattening up their concocted, inflated and largely fictitious victim narratives because without they cannot exist. Like a demon insatiable and needing to be constantly fed, this narrative endlessly needs to churned and replenished in order to propagate itself like the weed that it is. Otherwise, yes, this conference is  completely a joke – as are its attendees. Welcome to the New World Order where up is down and down is up, where fiends are made to be heroes and heroes into fiends. Of course it is with the endless and shameless propagation of such lies that Bahaism initiated itself to begin with and then diffused itself with the help of the Anglo-American establishment. Luckily in some parts of the world people see through this charade. Eventually, of course, all this will catch up with it.

  • Baquia

    To be clear, this event is being organized completely by non-Baha’is. The conference will feature a mix of Baha’i scholars (some of whom I mentioned above) and non-Baha’is. The impetus of the gathering originates from Prof.
    Mohamad Tavakoli
    , a non-Baha’i.

  • Franmoyyad

    Where can we buy the CD’sfor this conference?

  • Franmoyyad

    Where can we buy the CD’sfor this conference?

  • Baquia

    I’ve seen no indication that there will be any. Hopefully they will record the sessions and put them up on youtube.

  • Shahramrohani

    Mohammad Tavakoli Targhi,Akhavan, Ms.M.Yazdani,Ehsan Yar Shater,           A. Amanat,Moghisi, A.Hakkak,Nazila Ghanea,F.Wahman,Negar Mottahedeh, Milani, F.Kazemzadeh, M.Amanat,M.Momen, M.Afnan,A.Sabeti, S.Zabihi Moghaddam, and B.Jabbari are from the Bahai friends.

  • Craig Parke

    I think this is a very useful conference. I would love to be there! I hope there is a CD available at some point. I would ask from the floor if I was there what these Iranian Baha’is would answer to this question:

    “I address this question to the Iranian Baha’is here at this timely conference:

    Please explain how the Baha’is would NOT treat people THE SAME as they are being treated now by TOTALITARIAN ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISTS if they ever attained majority power THEMSELVES in  ANY society on Earth? The tiny Administrative Order that exists today has no real power anywhere on Earth and there is much evidence of incompetence and abuse of power at this extremely tiny and completely inconsequential level. What checks and balances exist in the future system when the Baha’is attain power on Earth  to prevent the abuse of the rank and file whose opinions differ from the lifetime incumbent clergy class that owns and runs the Faith?

    How will human rights be preserved for non-believers on this planet when the Baha’is rule Iran and the entire World as is their current belief?

    Thank you.”

    Personally I believe there indeed WILL be a future planetary Government and future planetary Civilization. But it will NOT come from the top down Baha’is in any way. It will come from bottom up people who can actually THINK for themselves in life and actually DO THINGS to advance human rights themselves as individuals. Not lifeless Borg automatons in an organization run by irresponsible hacks that are not held responsible to anyone on Earth.

  • Wahid Azal

    Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi has been courted by the Bahai powers that be for two decades now. Conferences like this one are about profitable business.

     That said, Othering is what regimes like those in Iran do because Othering is the nature of totalitarianism. But I would like to see Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi address the systematic Othering of the largest Islamic minority in Iran – the Sufis – and how the Usuli madrasa agenda of Islamic jurists in Qom has been attempting to do to Sufism in Iran what the Safavids tried to do to it i.e. eradicate it, even though the so-called founder of the IRI is claimed to have been a master of ‘irfan/gnosis. Major khanaqahs of the Gonabadi Soltanalishahi Nematollahi Order have been shut down all over Iran and the Order has been the target of brutal and relentless harassment and persecution by the regime for a decade now. Even in a city like Shiraz that boasts its predominant Sufi pedigree Sufi practice has been pushed more and more underground and into the background. Unfortunately Sufis being used to spiritual poverty have little material means and almost no corporate foundation money to organize major conferences in North America to discuss their plight whereas other communities with deep pockets outside of Iran can manage to organize quite extravagant events for themselves and invite noted academics to act as these conference sponsors and so overall manage perceptions and manufacture consent about Othering and persecution.

    To have invited Moojan Momen to present at this event speaks many volumes as to where the integrity of all this lies.

  • Craig Parke

    Here are the Conference speakers:

    http://www.soundofbahai.com/#?w=640&h=480

    My only comment is that after decades of hiding under the covers, somebody in the Baha’i Faith or somewhere along the line finally got off their knees and organized a conference to do something r-e-l-e-v-a-n-t.

    AMEN!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH-_9cwdLug

  • Craig Parke

    Here are the Conference speakers:

    http://www.soundofbahai.com/#?w=640&h=480

    My only comment is that after decades of hiding under the covers, somebody in the Baha’i Faith or somewhere along the line finally got off their knees and organized a conference to do something r-e-l-e-v-a-n-t.

    AMEN!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH-_9cwdLug

  • Craig Parke

    Here are the Conference speakers:

    http://www.soundofbahai.com/#?w=640&h=480

    My only comment is that after decades of hiding under the covers, somebody in the Baha’i Faith or somewhere along the line finally got off their knees and organized a conference to do something r-e-l-e-v-a-n-t.

    AMEN!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH-_9cwdLug

  • Craig Parke

    Here are the Conference speakers:

    http://www.soundofbahai.com/#?w=640&h=480

    My only comment is that after decades of hiding under the covers, somebody in the Baha’i Faith or somewhere along the line finally got off their knees and organized a conference to do something r-e-l-e-v-a-n-t.

    AMEN!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH-_9cwdLug

  • Craig Parke

    Here are the Conference speakers:

    http://www.soundofbahai.com/#?w=640&h=480

    My only comment is that after decades of hiding under the covers, somebody in the Baha’i Faith or somewhere along the line finally got off their knees and organized a conference to do something r-e-l-e-v-a-n-t.

    AMEN!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH-_9cwdLug

  • Wahid Azal

    Relevent to what, Craig? Please elaborate…

  • Pingback: CESNUR Paper: Bahai Dissent by Bei Dawei | Baha'i Rants

  • Fubar

    Sorry to state the obvious, but wouldn’t it be in the natural interests of some ex-pat non-bahai iranians to want to use the issue of persecution of iranian bahais as a PR tool against their opponents in the iranian regime? If so, they would hardly be the source of legitimate criticism of the current bahai persecution narrative by bahai administration?

  • Fubar

    Sorry to state the obvious, but wouldn’t it be in the natural interests of some ex-pat non-bahai iranians to want to use the issue of persecution of iranian bahais as a PR tool against their opponents in the iranian regime? If so, they would hardly be the source of legitimate criticism of the current bahai persecution narrative by bahai administration?

  • Wahid Azal

    The US State Department finds more Sufi Muslims are being persecuted by the IRI regime than Bahais

    “In March, over 200 Gonabadi Sufis were summoned to courts around the

    country to answer allegations that they were insulting Iranian

    authorities. In April, eight other Sufis were re-arrested on charges of

    disrupting public order – charges for which they had been punished with

    flogging and imprisonment. ”

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/rm/2011/169180.htm

  • Desir0101

    Good day,
    What will happen if your serious warning addressed to the UHJ fell on death ears.

  • Wahid Azal

    Well, it appears my dire warning cursed Peter Con into the grave so probably more of the same.

  • Fubar

    Hey Nima,

    Good job pointing out the hypocrisy of bahai apologists like Momen.

    For the less informed readers, it might be useful to summarize how US foreign policy has been linked to prominent hardline right wing lobbyist organizations (including evangelicals) and their allies and clients (military industrial complex, oil industry, etc.).

    You might want to reference the recently opened “sealed” archives of Wallace Stegner’s 1950s project to do investigative journalism about ARAMCO as an example of how “geopolitics” (corporate globalism) really influences US foreign policy.

    One particular image from Stegner’s ARAMCO project might be useful: US military helicopters being unloaded from ships (in Jordan?), being painted black and being used to attack local unionized oil workers engaged in resistance to the theft of oil resources by the Saudi royals.

  • Graham Rost

    The purpose of the conference in Toronto which was held under
    chairmanship of Mr. Tavakoli and under the Guidance of Universal House of
    Justice failed to achieve any of its aim because the conference failed to
    reflect on very important issues prevailing in the Baha’i organization. For
    example, The Baha’i NSA of the US recently lost a case in which it attempted to
    sue rival, schismatic Baha’i groups for trademark infringement of the name Baha’i.
    The daily increase in the numerous harassment that Baha’is have been subjected
    to. The existence of a Baha’i Internet Agency one of whose roles is to spy and
    isolate online critics. Trying to find out their IP addresses then their home
    addresses and then bullying them to submission. Forcing Google to disband their
    blogs/sites.

     

     

    After all, thinking is our
    freedom to investigate the truth and follow it. If one is truly liberal then
    his approaches will not suffocate the human mind to certain ideals only. The
    conference failed to encourage the audience to seek out the truth in their
    investigation. It failed in encouraging audience to apply truth to their
    investigation. Mr. Tavakoli and his Haifan Baha’i friends should note that
    staying in glass houses one should not through stones at others. In future
    never use Academic Institute like Toronto
    University as your implementing
    agenda forum.

     

    Can Mr. Tavakoli and his Haifan organization answer?

               

    The Haifan Baha’is always
    preaches tolerance and peace then why do they not extend the same tolerance and
    peace to their own while demanding it from other religious leaders? is this not
    hypocrisy?

     

    Why excommunicate Academician and
    University professor like Prof Firouz
    Anarki the former member of NSA of Thailand just because he believed that
    to become a good teacher for Children classes one need not do Ruhi book 3.

     

    Why excommunicate Mr. Jamshed Fozdar who so sincerely
    worked for Haifan Baha’is as a counselor for a number of years. His only fault
    was his assertions that the content of the books of the Ruhi Institute are
    unjustified, and that the only valid way to teach the Cause to the peoples of
    the world is through the use of the scriptures of their respective religions

     

    Why send Counselors to threaten
    professors of history and Middle East studies
    of ‘making statements contrary to the covenant’ in the Spring of 1996 and bully
    them out of the religion?

     

    Why the crackdown on the
    talis…@indiana.edu list and its participants? Why bully individuals to
    retract statements of fact, but when they do under duress, they are Sanctioned?

     

    Why bully the editors of dialogue
    magazine to close it down and accuse them of negative campaigning and lying for
    an article entitled *A Modest Proposal* which had gone through the process of pre-publication
    review by the NSA itself and then accuse these editors of being covenant
    breakers for following the NSA’s own rules and guidelines on the floor of
    National Convention in 1988?

     

    Why threaten people believing in
    freedom of conscience and freedom to express one’s opinion?

     

    Why expel Michael McKenney for
    merely believing that women should serve on the UHJ?

     

    Why expel Alison Marshall for
    believing that the UHJ is not infallible?

     

    Why sanction those Iranian
    Baha’is for leaving Iran
    via Mehrabad airport because they were required to fill out a form stating
    their religion?

     

    Why spy on individuals and
    violate their fundamental right to privacy a year after they had formally left
    the religion?

     

    Why write libelous and slanderous
    letters about people and then denounce them as enemies in their national
    publications?

     

    Why attempt to have people
    shunned and split up their families because they believe differently from the
    official line? And so on and so forth, ad nauseum!

     

    Given the current UHJ’s own track record
    with its own dissidents, it is the last one who can preach about peace and
    tolerance towards others! They ought to start with themselves first before
    telling others what to do?

     

  • Desir0101

    Newton’s third law of motion.

    “”To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”,
    to experience the balance and equilibrium, both in matters , natures, social and spiritual life.

    It’s a fundamental law governing the whole universe.

    What you sow so you will reap.

  • Wahid Azal

    Jamshid Fozdar and Firouz Anarki have been sanctioned by the Haifan fascists?! That’s news. Details?

  • Wahid Azal

    The BAO has been riding the wave of the Iranian situation and capitalizing on it. The rise of the hardliners has been a gift to it. Before Ahmadinejad became president in 1995 during the 8 year Khatami presidency, the UHJ was fast losing ground in Iran and losing the ideological war within in its own ranks as more and more Bahais in Iran were daily becoming disillusioned by it and its heavy-handed puppets amongst the Yaran/Ma’arif. The situation got so bad that Reza Afshari (one of the conference participants) contacted me to get my input about the dissension inside the Iranian Bahai community, wishing to make contact with some of the Bahai dissidents inside Iran itself in contact with me (fortunately, he and his BAO patrons cannot deny this since I possess all the correspondence). Like Tavakoli-Targhi, however, Reza Afshari is the brand of North American Iranian pseudo-intellectual whose pen is for hire and who will change his perspective, embellish and exaggerate facts in the process, writing papers and giving talks for anyone patronizing his career who wines and dines him, flying him around to conferences kissing his backside.

    But this behaviour by these North American Iranian pseudo-intellectual sluts has a use by date as does the power of the Iranian hardliners. Sooner than later the fractures in the regime will be insurmountable and the regime will collapse under its own weight. When that day arrives there will also be a blow-back against the UHJ, its Anglo-European big corporate lobbyist friends and the Iranian Bahai leadership. Already signs of this blow-back can be seen. Whatever the NED lobbyists believe, the site Iranian.com which the UHJ has invested hugley in is marked by Iranians and non-Iranians alike as a hate-site, its major contributors as paid voices, its funding tainted, and Jahanshah Javid (its webmaster) as a duplicitous whore with a well established track-record for gross opportunism. When that day comes, and it will, nothing will save the reputation of the BAO and its friends from being dragged through the global sewer.