Bahá'í Gets Death Sentence in Iran

PARIS, Feb 11 (Reuter) - An Islamic revolutionary court in Iran has sentenced to death a 49-year-old Bahá'í for apostasy, returning to his original faith after converting to Islam, the French branch of the Bahá'í faith said on Sunday.

Dhabihu'llah Mahrami, an Agriculture Department employee in Yazd province, will also have all his possessions confiscated according to the court's ruling handed down in the past few days, a Bahá'í spokeswoman said.

Mahrami, born a Bahá'í, was accused of converting to Islam in 1981 to avoid being fired from his government job but returned to the Bahá'í faith seven years later, according to translations of court documents provided by the French Bahá'ís.

"The Bahá'ís of France fear that this verdict marks a resumption of open persecution against our co-religionists in Iran." "Thanks to the pressures of international opinion, executions had stopped...but there were still more subtle persecutions aimed at strangling them economically and repressing them socially," she said.

The Bahá'í faith, an off-shoot of Islam, was created in Iran 150 years ago. It says it has six million members worldwide including 350,000 in Iran where, according to the court documents released in Paris, it is officially considered "a misleading and wayward sect."

The last execution of a Bahá'í in Iran was in 1992 when Bahman Samandari, a leading community member, was executed.