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A Faith Denied: The Persecution of the Baha'is of Iran

ranging in age from nineteen to eighty years old, were killed by a large mob who hacked them to pieces with spades and axes.57 In Shiraz, parts of the House of the Báb, one of the Bahá’í faith’s most sacred sites, were damaged. Raids and attacks on the Bahá’ís in nearby villages resulted in 800 apparently coerced recantations by members of the Bahá’í faithful which were signed and submitted to the local Islamic authorities.58 In Rasht, Ahvaz, Shiraz, Isfahan, Karaj, Mahfuruzak, Abadeh, Reza’iyeh, Takur and Hisar, public and private Bahá’í properties were raided and destroyed, and homes, businesses and Bahá’í centers were looted and burnt.59 The Bahá’í community responded to these events by appealing to various international bodies, including the newly-formed United Nations.60

Even those merely sympathetic to the plight of the Bahá’ís could find themselves the target of religious extremists. When the Governor of Fars Province, Brigadier-General Himmat, attempted to take action against the instigators of a local anti-Bahá’í uprising, he was accused of being a Bahá’í himself and was dismissed from his post.61

3.3. Tackling “the Bahá’í Problem”

As anti-Bahá’í violence flared in cities across the country, Iranian politicians conducted equally incendiary debates about “the Bahá’í problem” in the Iranian Parliament or Majlis. On May 10, 1955, Seyyed Ahmad Safa'i, the Qazvin deputy, with the support of Borujerdi and Falsafi, introduced a bill in the Iranian Majlis which proposed a four-part solution to the problem:62

Article 1- The corrupt community of the Bábís and their adherents, the Azalis and the Bahá’ís, are opposed to the security of the country and are declared illegal.

Article 2- Henceforth, membership in this community, and any pretense and adherence to it in any way, constitute a misdemeanor and the perpetrator will be sentenced to solitary confinement from 2 to 10 years and be deprived of all civil rights.

Article 3- The properties [in form of estate, land or house] that are places of congregation and organizations related to this community or revenue spent on issues related to this community will be transferred to the Ministry of Culture to be used for the purpose of establishing educational organizations and spreading religious and godly principles.

Article 4- People adhering to this community who are serving in government offices and related organizations, will from this day be fired from civil service and in no way will be subject to the employment law [cannot be hired].63

[57] WILLIAM SEARS, A CRY FROM THE HEART: THE BAHÁ’ÍS IN IRAN 57 (1982); ELIAS ZOHOORI, NAMES AND NUMBERS: A BAHA’I HISTORY REFERENCE GUIDE (University Printers, 2d ed. 1994) at 197 [hereinafter NAMES AND NUMBERS]. See also Dadrasi-yih Muttahamin-i Yazdi Idamih Darad [Trial of the Yazdi Accused Continues], SAHAR, No. 44, 12/4/1335 (July 3, 1956); Matn-i Divan-i Jina’i Darbariyyih Muttahamin-i Yazdi Bih Qatl-i Bahá’í-ha [Text of the Verdict of the Criminal Court Regarding the Yazdis Accused of Murdering the Bahá’ís], SAHAR No. 44, 26/4/1335 (July 17, 1956).
[58] Jaryan-i Kamil-i Hadisiyyih Shiraz va Abadeh va Ardestan [Complete Coverage of the Incidents of Shiraz and Abadeh and Ardestan], SITARIH-YIH ISLAM, No. 175, 10/4/1334 (July 2, 1955).
[59]See NAMES AND NUMBERS, supra note 57, at 196-197.
[60]Shikayat-i-Bahá’íyan bih Sazman-i Milal-i Muttahid [The Complaint of the Bahá’ís to the United Nations], TEHRAN-I MUSAVVAR, No. 611, 22/2/1334 (May 13, 1955).
[61]See Ustandar-i Fars Taq’ir Mikunad [Governor of Fars Will Change], SITARIH-YIH ISLAM, No. 177, 24/4/1334 (July 16, 1955) and Jaryan-i Kamil-i Hadisih-yih Shiraz va Aabadeh va Ardestan [Complete Coverage of the Incidents of Shiraz and Abadeh and Ardestan], SITARIH-YIH ISLAM, No. 175, 10/4/1334 (July 2, 1955).
[62]AKHAVI, supra note 17, at 78-80; FALSAFI MEMOIRS, supra note 38, at 207.
[63]See generally AKHAVI, supra note 17, at 78-80 for a description of the debates surrounding this legislation; for text of bill, see FALSAFI MEMOIRS, supra note 38, at 207, citing to KAYHAN, no. 3575, 20/2/1334 (May 11, 1955). Safa'i, who had introduced the bill at the request of Borujerdi, subsequently continued to urge the implementation of point # 4, the purging of Bahá’ís from government positions (AKHAVI, supra note 17, at 80-83). See also Bakhshnamiyyih Vazir-i Kishvar Raji' Bih Firqiyyih Bahá'í [Circular from Minister of Interior about the Bahá’í sect], published in ETTELA’AT, no. 8677 on 26/2/1334 (May 17, 1955) (warning that centers and societies that are anti-religion would be dissolved, but that attempts to disrupt order on the pretext of fighting the “straying sects” would not be tolerated either.) Ayatollah Borujerdi was dismayed with the governmental authorities when this proposal met with opposition and delays. See FALSAFI MEMOIRS, supra note 38, at 210, citing to ALI DAVANI, Zindiganiyyih Za'im-i Buzurg-i 'Alam-i Tasha'yu Ayatollah Borujerdi [THE LIFE OF THE GREAT LEADER OF THE WORLD OF SHI'ISM, AYATOLLAH BORUJERDI] (Tehran, Motahhar, 2d ed., 1370 (1991) at 246: “After the fight against the Bahá’ís proved unsuccessful, Ayatollah Borujerdi’s relationship with the government, the Shah and his court became cold and despair and distrust settled in [the Ayatollah's] mind. The Shah and the government did not care for Ayatollah Borujerdi’s requests and with sarcastic and derogatory remarks, caused much worry and tribulation for him in the last years of his life.”)

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Baha'i, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Conscience