Intensifying Persecutions in Iran

The Universal House of Justice has released a message regarding the worsening situation for Baha’is in Iran. You can read the letter by following the links below – just make sure you have Acrobat.

Basically they go over the recent developments and give a few examples of what has occurred on the ground in Iran. By no means does the letter cover everything (nor can it) that has happened. Instead it seems that the intent is to let the wider Baha’i community know of the intensification of attacks on Iranian believers.

This is something that I tried to do when I wrote about the Hojatieh Society more three months ago and outlined why this was a growing and grave danger for the Baha’i community in Iran.

Of note is this section of the letter where they cite…

…efforts undertaken by the Association of Chambers of Commerce (Ettehadieh Asnaf) to compile a list of Baha’is in every type of trade and employment…

Its probably safe to bet they aren’t troubling themselves with this sort of list building for benevolent reasons (like for example, creating a Baha’i yellow pages directory).

If you recall, the Hojatieh Society’s core is made up of extreme right wing merchants (bazaaris) and Mullas. Therefore, this action taken by the Association of Chambers of Commerce confirms that there is a wider plan afoot against the Baha’is. And that such a plan is systematic and is being driven forward by a newly emerged and organized group – the Hojatieh.

In light of all this, the letter of the UHJ is very short on answers or solutions. Of course, there is nothing that Baha’is can do to truly remedy the situation. We are being faced with a dogmatic fanaticism that is wholly unyielding. Pressure brought to bear through international political agencies like the United Nations are futile. The whole world has witnessed how for such an important issue such as nuclear armament, the political powers in Iran risk economic isolation and even military action from the West.

Do you really believe for a second that for such a relatively unfamiliar issue (in comparison), they would curb their plans of persecuting Baha’is? that they would allow any influence to change their methods? that they would begin to actually adhere to international codes and laws to which they are signatory?

This is why I’m baffled why the UHJ continues to give the same pablum of hold’n’pray. That’s not good enough. If indeed the Baha’is are facing a renewed wave of persecution, alternatives must be sought. Why should a community be harried, persecuted, hounded and suffer innumerably when they can simply leave?

What’s more, the Iranian government would like nothing better than that. So why not give it to them, tied with a red bow? What is wrong with a mass exodus? What is wrong with getting the heck out of Dodge and raising your children where they can grow up and live in freedom?

Iran won’t stay under the opression and tyranny of the current regime for ever. So why not get out and return when the time is right?

Or is that too simple an answer?

Related Links:

Universal House of Justice message of March 22, 2006 (English)
Universal House of Justice message of March 22, 2006 (Persian)
The Return of the Hojatieh
Statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

  • Dave

    I am afraid that your view is too simple. These Baha’is have not had their Iranian citizenship revoked. If they had then this would be a completely different matter. A concerted effort is required from both Baha’is and non Baha’is alike to get the Islamic Republic to at least recognise that they have some responsibilities towards their citizens regardless of their religious affiliations.

  • Dave

    I am afraid that your view is too simple. These Baha’is have not had their Iranian citizenship revoked. If they had then this would be a completely different matter. A concerted effort is required from both Baha’is and non Baha’is alike to get the Islamic Republic to at least recognise that they have some responsibilities towards their citizens regardless of their religious affiliations.

  • http://bahairants.com Baquia

    Dave, I have no idea why citizenship has any bearing on the issue at hand. The ruling tyrants in Iran don’t give two dingo’s kidneys about anyone’s citizenship. They are an equal opportunity oppressor/torturer/killer.

    Take the tragic case of Ms. Kazemi. A Canadian who was arrested, interrogated, assaulted, raped and tortured to death.

    So again, I have no idea what you are trying to say here when you mention citizenship. It has been a few years now that Iranian Baha’is can come and go to and from Iran. Yes, come and go. Freely.

    All I’m saying is GET OUT !

    And regarding the ‘concerted effort’ you speak of… yeah, I’m sure the IRI will stay up at night fretting over a few websites and some meaningless, empty UN motions that are passed with lukewarm votes.

    Look how they are fanatically standing against the whole world when it comes to something as serious as nuclear armament.

    No matter how ‘concerted’ and well organized the ‘effort’, it will not matter. They don’t care what you think Dave. Neither do they care what the world thinks. Wake up!

    Do you think the previous ‘concerted efforts’ made any difference? Ohh, ooohh… the UN passed the nth limp resolution against us…we better behave now… Christ! Wake up man.

    The only reason the persecutions of the early 80s abated was because of the temporary loss of power of the Hojatieh. They are back now. So Bahais have two choices:

    1) Get out of Iran.
    2) Stay to be persecuted and killed.

    I like (1) and have cheerleaded the Baha’is to get the heck out of Iran since last December when this was not even on the radar screen of most Baha’is, nor on the radar screen of any of the Baha’i administration nor on the radar screen of any journalist or blogger.

    The UHJ likes option (2).

    Time to get your head out of the sand Dave. Read some newspapers, talk to some people, heck, read the archives of this blog… and find out what is really going on.

    Then you’re welcome to come back and try another stab at a comment.

  • http://bahairants.com Baquia

    Dave, I have no idea why citizenship has any bearing on the issue at hand. The ruling tyrants in Iran don’t give two dingo’s kidneys about anyone’s citizenship. They are an equal opportunity oppressor/torturer/killer.

    Take the tragic case of Ms. Kazemi. A Canadian who was arrested, interrogated, assaulted, raped and tortured to death.

    So again, I have no idea what you are trying to say here when you mention citizenship. It has been a few years now that Iranian Baha’is can come and go to and from Iran. Yes, come and go. Freely.

    All I’m saying is GET OUT !

    And regarding the ‘concerted effort’ you speak of… yeah, I’m sure the IRI will stay up at night fretting over a few websites and some meaningless, empty UN motions that are passed with lukewarm votes.

    Look how they are fanatically standing against the whole world when it comes to something as serious as nuclear armament.

    No matter how ‘concerted’ and well organized the ‘effort’, it will not matter. They don’t care what you think Dave. Neither do they care what the world thinks. Wake up!

    Do you think the previous ‘concerted efforts’ made any difference? Ohh, ooohh… the UN passed the nth limp resolution against us…we better behave now… Christ! Wake up man.

    The only reason the persecutions of the early 80s abated was because of the temporary loss of power of the Hojatieh. They are back now. So Bahais have two choices:

    1) Get out of Iran.
    2) Stay to be persecuted and killed.

    I like (1) and have cheerleaded the Baha’is to get the heck out of Iran since last December when this was not even on the radar screen of most Baha’is, nor on the radar screen of any of the Baha’i administration nor on the radar screen of any journalist or blogger.

    The UHJ likes option (2).

    Time to get your head out of the sand Dave. Read some newspapers, talk to some people, heck, read the archives of this blog… and find out what is really going on.

    Then you’re welcome to come back and try another stab at a comment.

  • David T.

    I don’t know if this comment is going to sound patronizing, but . . . All of the major religions have gone through big timesof persecution for various factions within the religion, and against other religions. There was a time when you had to be Jewish to be worth anything, and those lousy samaritans weren’t worth the time of day. There was a time when Judaism was a thought of as a lot more “unclean” than it is now – hopefully ending with the holocaust, because all the rest of us share a little guilt on it. There was a time when the middle east was much more advanced society than Western/Christian society – and that was the time that a bunch of grumpy Europeans thought they would clean the middle east of those lousy Islamic heretics. And all the religions have got little sects within them that consider all the other sects to be all but atheists. Baha’is just seems to have grown to the point where they get to be considered unclean. Hopefully they won’t go through their intolerant stage too.

    I’m afraid this whole society is at fault. I think that it’s just an absurd idea that a being that created an entire Universe 11 billion light years across, 20 billion years old would only have one suit. The simple fact of the matter is that God may be a little bitty more complex than we poor humans can really understand, and that any being infinite in aspect may look at little different to different people. He may have made us in his image, but I don’t know if you’ve noticed, we all look a little different. The only real thing I think he was ever trying to teach us is not to fight with each other. It’s time for all of us to grow up.

  • David T.

    I don’t know if this comment is going to sound patronizing, but . . . All of the major religions have gone through big timesof persecution for various factions within the religion, and against other religions. There was a time when you had to be Jewish to be worth anything, and those lousy samaritans weren’t worth the time of day. There was a time when Judaism was a thought of as a lot more “unclean” than it is now – hopefully ending with the holocaust, because all the rest of us share a little guilt on it. There was a time when the middle east was much more advanced society than Western/Christian society – and that was the time that a bunch of grumpy Europeans thought they would clean the middle east of those lousy Islamic heretics. And all the religions have got little sects within them that consider all the other sects to be all but atheists. Baha’is just seems to have grown to the point where they get to be considered unclean. Hopefully they won’t go through their intolerant stage too.

    I’m afraid this whole society is at fault. I think that it’s just an absurd idea that a being that created an entire Universe 11 billion light years across, 20 billion years old would only have one suit. The simple fact of the matter is that God may be a little bitty more complex than we poor humans can really understand, and that any being infinite in aspect may look at little different to different people. He may have made us in his image, but I don’t know if you’ve noticed, we all look a little different. The only real thing I think he was ever trying to teach us is not to fight with each other. It’s time for all of us to grow up.

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  • Amado de Dios

    Okay, there is nothing worse than the genius who comes up with a simple answer to the problem and “solves it” – but please allow me to offer what would be a great solution if we were a bit less dogmatic and a bit more creative!
    Our leaders (currently saying “stay, be martyrs, it will be good for you” could instruct ALL Bahais in Iran to officially embrace Islam now. No one would ever say we capitulated, chickened out, knuckled under, no – we just decided to “become Muslims” (perhaps not real active mosque-goers, but nominal Muslims) and totally deflate the persecution. We’ve given up on having Assemblies and all – why not en mass become the equivalent of Muslim friends who like the Bahai Faith? Totally do-able, tremendous civil-obedience as disobedience gesture… That’s what I would do!

  • Anonymous

    Amado, what you’re proposing is dissimulation and it has a long history within Islam and the Babi Faith. Baha’u’llah pointed out a more nuanced approach however, within the Baha’i Faith it has been outlawed:

    “We can neither approve the conduct of the fearful that seeketh to dissemble his faith, nor sanction the behaviour of the avowed believer that clamourously asserteth his allegiance to this Cause. Both should observe the dictates of wisdom, and strive diligently to serve the best interests of the Faith.”

    For more background information, see this article.

  • Amado de Dios

    Interesting article! The sneaky answers remind me of my attempts to lighten up renta-a-cops in airport security filters without getting thrown off the flight!
    After my “brilliant idea”, a little reflection led me to the conclusion borne out by the article: if they used to pick on us because we had a moustache, now they can pick on us because we’ve shaved…
    A mass “dissimulation” probably wouldn’t improve things, might make them worse, and leaving or even pioneering (not leaving “from” but pioneering “toward”) is certainly a more effective option!