Bahai News - UW Baha'i Association garners support against Iranian actions
UW Bahá'i Association garners support against Iranian
Thursday, January 7, 1999
Bahá'is endure civil rights violations, supporters say
Recent civil rights violations against
people of the Bahá'i faith in Iran have prompted UW
Bahá'is to take action. Members of the UW Bahá'i
Association are engaged in a campaign to gather signatures and letters
protesting actions of the Iranian government against Bahá'is in Iran.
Amelia Waite, junior women studies
major, is part of the effort to protest the happenings in Iran. "We're
trying to get people to write letters to UNESCO (United Nations
Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Iranian
government expressing disapproval," Waite said.
|"Obedience to government is important to the
Bahá'is; they are not trying to overtake the Iranian
The White House has officially condemned
the actions of the Iranian government toward Bahá'is. Waite said
there has been a national effort in the United States to write letters
and gather signatures.
The official religion in Iran is Muslim,
but 300,000 Iranians are Bahá'i. Beginning in 1980,
Bahá'is were systematically excluded from University admissions
and subsequently began their own open University where Bahá'i
students could receive an education.
On Sep. 29, 1998, the open University of
Iran was shut down, effectively denying Bahá'is the right to
education, violating their civil rights as stipulated by the United
Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Because the teachings of the
Bahá'i faith postdates that of Islam, Bahá'is do not have
constitutional rights under Iranian law. In addition to the closure of
Bahá'i schools, Bahá'i people have been executed for
violations such as converting people from Muslim. Bahá'i marriage
is not legally recognized in Iran, homes of Bahá'i people have
been vandalized and pensions and property have been confiscated.
UW Senior and International Studies
major Neda Fazilat has first-hand experience with the persecution in Iran.
"My family fled Iran. One evening my
father got a phone call from a Muslim co-worker who warned him that his
life would be threatened because he was Bahá'i; we packed up and
left that night," Fazilat said.
Larry Gallagher, graduate student in
genetics, said one reason Bahá'is from other countries are
involved in expressing disapproval to the Iranian government is the
adherence to one of the principles of the Bahá'i faith - to
follow the laws of one's own government, even if they are unjust.
"Obedience to government is important to
the Bahá'is, they are not trying to overtake the Iranian
government," Gallagher said.
With approximately six million members
inhabiting 205 countries, the Bahá'i faith is the second most
widespread religion in the world, falling only behind Christianity. The
Bahá'i faith adheres to the teachings of
Bahá'u'lláh, who, according to Bahá'is, was the
most recent messenger from God.
The Bahá'i faith's central
principle is unity, Gallagher said. "The Bahá'i faith is the most
recent of the independent world religions with the most recent of God's
messengers sent to help humankind attain it's maturity. Central to the
faith is unity and the oneness of human kind ... the main thing about
the Bahá'i faith is to promote unity," Gallagher said.
Bahá'is believe in the oneness of
all religions and the equality of the genders and all ethnicities.
The UW Bahá'i Association will be
gathering protest signatures and distributing information about their
faith upstairs in the HUB today.
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