WASHINGTON (AP) - The Clinton administration criticized
Iran on Friday for sentencing to death three Baha'i men who the White
House said were condemned because of their religious faith.
President Clinton was deeply troubled by the sentences given Sirus
Zabihi-Moghaddam, Hedayet Kashefi-Najafabadi and Manuchehr Khulusi,
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.
"In all three cases, it is clear that the individuals were arrested,
charged and sentenced to death solely because of their religious
beliefs," Lockhart said. "Executing people for the practice of their
religious faith is contrary to the most fundamental human rights
The Baha'is draw their religious principles from the Muslim, Christian
and Jewish faiths. They are considered heretics by many Muslims,
including Iran's fundamentalist Islamic government.
Iran is among seven countries identified by the State Department last
year as engaging in "particularly severe" violations of religious
freedoms. It has implemented policies to eradicate the faith through
imprisoning Baha'i adherents, confiscating and desecrating their holy
places and denying them the right to assemble.
Lockhart said the United States will monitor Iran's treatment of its
Baha'i minority for signs of persecution.
"President Clinton continues to hold the Iranian government responsible
for the safety of the Baha'i community of Iran and strongly urges that
these executions not be carried out," Lockhart said. "We condemn Iranian
government persecution of all minority faiths."
©Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.
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