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Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani Speaks Out against the Violation of the Human Rights of Iran’s Bahá’í Community

(September 4, 2013) – A number of Bahá’í activists met with Ayatollah Abdolhamid Masumi Tehrani, a dissident Shia cleric, in his office yesterday following the murder last week of Mr. Ataollah Rezvani, a member of the Bahá’í faith, in the city of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. According to a source in attendance at the meeting, Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani expressed his sorrow regarding Mr. Rezvani’s murder, and he criticized the violation of the civil rights of Iran’s Bahá’í community. Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani is one of the few clerics who has defended the Bahá’í minority in Iran in the past.

In remarks published on his website, and which he was reported to have expressed in the meeting, Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani said, “We do not have the right to limit or deny the personal and social rights of any individual who has not interfered with another person’s life, property, honor or reputation. In today’s world personal and social rights, or in other words, an individual’s civil rights are not defined by his or her religion, sect, ethnicity or gender. A human being, on account of being a human, is entitled to human rights without any consideration of belief, ethnicity or gender, and no one has the right to limit these rights for a person who has not violated others’ rights. Every government is responsible to defend the personal and social rights of all citizens without any exceptions and in an impartial manner, and to prosecute anyone who violates the rights of others for any reason or due to subscribing to any opinion.”

Contradicting most other Shia clerics, Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani stated that arguing about the legitimacy of religions and sects has proved fruitless throughout history, and that such arguments have resulted in humans killing their own kind.

At the end of his comments, Ayatollah Masumi Tehrani expressed optimism regarding the respect for human rights of all Iranian citizens in the future and said, “ I hope that one day in this country Shias, Sunnis, Zoroastrians, Christians, Jews, Bahá’ís and even atheists have equal rights and are accorded the same respect. It is in such a society that talents flourish and the country is strengthened. Thankfully this positive development is spreading in Iranian society, and it is becoming institutionalized. Hopefully this trend will continue.”