Bahai News - Baha'i profs protest persectutions in Iran
Baha'i profs protest persectutions in Iran
BY DIANNA MESCHER
Since the summer, Baha'i educators have been arrested in Iran for running
an open university for Baha'i students, who by law cannot attend colleges
in the country.
Along with the arrests, one Baha'i was executed in the city of Mashad in
northeast Iran, and two more have been sentenced to death.
The Baha'is have been under attack by the Iranian government because they
practice their religion, said Azar Parvizi-Majidi, a mechanical engineering
professor at the university and Iranian Baha'i.
Baha'i is an independent religion that focuses on a world community, said
Grant Wolf, the advisor for the university's Baha'i Club.
Baha'is believe in a single god from which all religions originate. They
believe the god sends a divine messenger to teach the people periodically.
Baha'is believe some of these messengers include been Buddha, Mohammed and
Jesus, Wolf said.
Parvizi-Majidi said since the Islamic revolution of the 1970s, led by the
Ayatollah Khomeni, hundreds of Baha'is have been executed in Iran.
Before the revolution, there were around 500,000 Baha'is in Iran. There
are probably less now, because many have left the country due to the
oppression, she said.
"Iran has systematically tried to eliminate the Baha'is," Parvizi-Majidi
Parvizi-Majidi left Iran in 1975 before the revolution. Her parents and
brother still live there, and she hasn't been allowed back in to visit
since 1978 because Iranian law prohibits Baha'is from entering the
country, she said.
"Baha'is are a peace-loving people who, by their religion, are loyal to
their government," Parvizi-Majidi said adding that Baha'is focus on
unity. "Any form of prejudice is absolutely abhorred."
Wolf, who is an instructor at the English Language Institute, said, "I
deeply respect these people for their courage. All they have to do is
sign a paper saying they're not Baha'i, but they won't do it."
Sophomore Kalim Oldziey, a practicing Baha'i, said Baha'is in Iran are
not able to get good jobs. They are prohibited from attending college or
being any sort of educator.
"Baha'is have second-citizen status," he said. "It's something akin to the
old Jim Crow laws in the United States."
Sophomore Kierney Corliss, a member of the Baha'i Club, said the Iranians
feel the Baha'is are threatening them. In the 1980s, she said, eight young
women were executed simply for being Baha'i.
"It's sad that things like this are still happening," Corliss said.
The state of mind in the United States, she said, is that religious
persecution in the world is a thing of the past.
She said she thinks people should be more aware of persecution worldwide
and know that they can do something about it.
"It's hard to think we can change the world when we're so far away,"
The Baha'i club is sponsoring an inter-faith service for all victims of
persecution on Nov. 4 in response to the developments in Iran.
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