Bahai News - Bahai's persecuted in their homeland
Published - Sunday, April 25, 1999
Bahai's persecuted in their homeland
Last year , I wrote that the Baha'i Institute of Higher
Education in Iran had been closed down by the Islamic Revolutionary
authorities, and its teachers were taken into custody. We are now
informed that all have been released except four and that those four
have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years.
The Islamic Revolutionary Court in Isfahan cited the Baha'is'
involvement in a program of Baha'i studies as evidence of crimes against
In March, Dr. Sina Hakiman was sentenced to 10
years in prison, Messrs. Farzad Khajeh Sharifabadi and Habibullah
Ferdosian Najafabadi to seven years, and Ziaullah Mirzapanah to three
They had been arrested in September and October as part of
the Iranian government's crackdown on the Baha'i Institute of Higher
Education. Last fall, Iranian government officials raided more than 530
Baha'i homes, confiscated computers and classroom equipment and arrested
at least 36 teachers of the institute.
The four Baha'is were
convicted for teaching religious classes to other Baha'is in another
organization called the Institute for Higher Baha'i Studies. The court
cited Chapter One, Article 498 of the Islamic Penal Code which provides
for prison terms for anyone organizing an association or group with the
aim of disturbing the internal or external security of the country.
However, the law makes no mention of religious instruction within one's
own religious community as an illegal activity.
"This is a clear
attempt on the part of the authorities to use the penal code to punish
the Baha'is for studying their own religion," said Director Kit Cosby of
the U.S. Baha'i Office of External Affairs. "The charge of disturbing
the security of the country is false...."
The Baha'is had established
the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education in 1987 to provide university
level instruction to Baha'i youth barred from universities by the
government because of their religious beliefs. Late last year, the
institute resumed its activities, although its functioning is still
hampered by the loss of equipment, especially computers, which it
suffered during the raids.
Since the Islamic regime took power, more
than 200 Baha'is have been executed on account of their religion. With
300,000 adherents, Baha'is are Iran's largest religious minority. The
Baha'i faith is not recognized as a legitimate religion in Iran and they
have no rights.
Here in Edmond we are privileged to have a number of
Iranian citizens who have been able to escape the religious persecution
of their homeland. Hopefully, they will find Edmond and the United
States in general a desirable place to live.
Recent events in the
Denver area jar us to the realization that prejudices are still alive
and well in this glorious country of ours.
©Copyright 1999, Edmond Sun
Page last updated/revised 082901
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