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Baha'i U.N. delegate says Iran razed holy site

23 Apr 2004 17:33

GENEVA (Reuters) - Authorities in the northern Iranian town of Babul have bulldozed a religious site important to the minority Baha'i faith, the Baha'i representative to the United Nations said on Friday.

The gravesite of Quddus (The Most Holy), a prominent figure in early Baha'i history, was razed in recent days despite Baha'i protests. Iran's Interior Ministry has not responded to requests for the remains, said Diane Ala'i, U.N. representative in Geneva.

"Now we are worried that we're not able to get ahold of the remains in order to preseve them in the manner appropriate," Ala'i told Reuters.

The house-like structure marked the grave of Quddus, the foremost disciple of the Bab, the prophet of the monotheistic Baha'i faith. Baha'is claim five million believers worldwide, of whom 300,000 live in Iran.

Ala'i said persecution of Baha'i members had increased in Iran over the past two years, in part because international attention to their plight -- including at the U.N.'s key Commission on Human Rights -- was fading.

"If international attention is not kept on the Iranian government, they are able to resume the persecutions that had not stopped but that had decreased in the past several years," she said.

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