Persecution of Iranian Baha’is Linked to Hojatieh

More and more, the traditional media is awakening to the role of the Hojjatieh Society in the persecution of Baha’is. Maybe the reporters should be reading blogs to get the news a few months ahead of time.

The crack research team at Baha’i Rants was able to track down a picture of the founder of the Hojatieh Society: Shaykh Mahmoud Zaker-zadeh Toolabi, also known as Shaykh Mahmoud Halabi (prominent left):

founderHojjatieh.png

And below is an article that appeared in The Toronto Star today:

Baha’is fear new persecution by Iranians
Apr. 29, 2006. 01:00 AM
STUART LAIDLAW
FAITH & ETHICS REPORTER

For a Markham woman, the afternoon of Aug. 23, 1980, is seared into her mind. That was the last day anyone saw or heard from her father, a leading member of the Baha’i faith in her native Iran, and 10 others.

“They were meeting in different places because they knew the government was after them,” the woman remembers, 26 years later.

A Jeep arrived at 4 p.m. at the home where they were meeting to drag off 11 members of the Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly of Iran and the owner of the home. The homeowner was later released, but not the others.

“From that time, no one has seen or heard anything about those people,” says the woman, who does not want her name used.

Her husband, also a senior official in Iran’s Baha’i community before the 1979 Islamic revolution, remains a marked man, she says. The couple, who fear for their safety even in Canada, left Iran within months of the revolution; her mother was smuggled out shortly after her father’s disappearance.

Now, she fears a return to the violence of a quarter-century ago, when more than 200 Baha’is were killed in the government campaign. “Among them were many of our friends and relatives. Their purpose was to eradicate the Baha’i faith.

“Yesterday, she took part in a prayer ceremony at the Baha’i Centre in downtown Toronto for the people of Iran, marking the opening of the group’s annual meeting.

The prayer was held to recognize a recent upsurge in persecution of Baha’is in Iran, where the faith was founded 162 years ago, says Gerald Filson, spokesperson for the group. Asma Jahangir, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion, has said she is “highly concerned” about treatment of Baha’is in Iran after seeing a letter from a military official calling for members of the faith to be monitored.

“What’s happening now is quite scary,” the Markham woman told the Star. “They say they are monitoring the Baha’i, and that’s exactly what they said the last time.

“Anti-Baha’i rhetoric has soared since the election last year of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardliner alleged to belong to Hojjatieh, an anti-Baha’i organization.

Baha’i teaches “progressive revelation,” that Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Baha’i founder Baha’u’llah were messengers from God and that more will come. Followers believe people must find faith through their own investigation. Islam, the religion of 98 per cent of Iranians, teaches that Muhammad is the final prophet.

About 300,000 Baha’is remain in Iran, a country of 68 million people; some five million Baha’is live abroad, including 30,000 in Canada, which accepted Iranian Baha’is as refugees in the 1980s. Persecution of Baha’is predates Iran’s revolution but was stepped up in the early ’80s, until international pressure forced the country to back off.

Related Links:

Canadian Baha’i News Service article: English and French