ABN NEWS- A statement by a group of innovative religious thinkers, regarding the necessity to
tolerate dissidents: Belief cannot be a basis for legal offence or religious sin
Zeitoon – Five innovative religious thinkers published a statement, emphasizing the necessity to
tolerate people with different beliefs.
As reported by “Zeitoon”, in reference to the “dogmatism and extremism” that threaten Iran, like
other countries, this statement says: “Being supported by the political power, and through the use
of violence and intimidation, extremists have imposed stupendous costs on the country and the
nation, in cultural, artistic, economic and social, arenas, as well as domestic and foreign policies.
Sadly, a number of pretenders whose microscopic eyes, see one thread of the hair of women, an
article in a magazine, or a visit to a Bahá’í compatriot, are incapable of observing major
Referring to the meeting of Faezeh Hashemi with one of her old cellmates, this statement
expresses the opinions of the innovative religious thinkers regarding the followers of Bahá’ísm.
This statement has been signed by Abdol-Ali Bazargan, Hasan Fereshtian, Mohsen Kadivar,
Sadigheh Vasmaghi and Hasan Yousefi-Eshkevari.
The complete text of this statement, which was given to “Zeitoon”, is conveyed below:
The fire of ignorance and prejudice has encompassed the Islamic world, has destroyed cities and
countries, has ravaged and killed hundreds of thousands of children, women, youth and elderly,
and has displaced millions of people from their homes. Multiple sects and belief systems have
been created in the heart of Islam, each calling the followers of other sects blasphemous and
unprotected by Islam; Wahhabis against shiiates, Shiiates against Bahá’ís, Sunnis against Alavis,
another one against Izadis and Houtis, etc.
Dogmatism and extremism threaten our country, as they threaten other countries. Being
supported by the political power, and through the use of violence and intimidation, extremists
have imposed stupendous costs on the country and the nation, in cultural, artistic, economic and
social, arenas, as well as domestic and foreign policies. Sadly, a number of pretenders whose
microscopic eyes, see one thread of the hair of women, an article in a magazine, or a visit to a
Bahá’í compatriot, are incapable of observing major catastrophes.”
One such example, is Mrs. Faezeh Hashemi and a group of righteous, justice-seekers, visiting
Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, an oppressed Bahá’í compatriot, who after serving eight years of her
twenty-year sentence, had been on furlough for a few days. However, in face of this noble and
moral behavior, a group of dogmatic and extremist fundamentalists, whose political motives are
well-known, have shown tempestuous and unreasonable reactions. Even more deplorable, is that
some clergy and religious authorities, including, Mr. Makarem-Shirazi, have denounced this visit,
have even called it a prosecutable offence, and a means to strengthen Bahá’ísm and weaken
Regarding the aforementioned reactions, we convey the following:
The followers of Bahá’ísm have been oppressed because of their religion and beliefs for decades.
They have been deprived of their rights to education and employment for the past thirty-eight
years. The properties of some, and the lives of others have been taken, and some have spent
many years in prison. If any sect or religion in power, takes its sword out, and deprives the
followers of other religions and sects of their human rights, no one can live in security. Spread of
this mentality, can also justify oppression and discrimination against followers of various Shia
sects, who are among the minority in other countries.
Criticism and rejection of the beliefs of a sect or religion, cannot justify violence and tyranny
against its followers. Justifying oppression, and expressing satisfaction with persecution and
harassment of fellow human beings, is by itself, the most significant error and ignorance.
Religious belief cannot be a basis for legal offence or religious sin.
Islam supports freedom of religion and belief. The Quran has affirmed this important point in
several verses. Freedom of religion, belief and thought is an inseparable component of human
nobility and dignity, and no one should deprive others from it. Additionally, from a religious point
of view, violating the human rights of non-Muslims, even polytheists or infidels, is not sanctioned
by religious decree.
Within enacted laws of Iran, there is no law, based on which, the rights of non-Muslim Iranians, or
those who are not of the Book, can be violated. In fact, based on the uncompromising, modern
“Government-Nation” principles, which, for some reason or another, has also been reflected in the
constitution of the Islamic Republic, the equality of rights of Iranian citizens has been
guaranteed. Fundamentally, the government and the political regime in power, is not in a situation
to be a religious judge. The role of an Islamic government, which is clear in the treaty of Imam Ali
with the Malik-i-Ashter 1, as well as other cases in Nahj-ul-Balagheh 2, is nothing but performing
public services, which cannot be performed by individuals.
Visiting a Bahá’í fellow citizen, who has unjustly spent many years in prison, is not only, not an
offence, but also, a religious, moral, and humanitarian behavior.
Complacency in face of aggression, ignoring immoral and inhumane behaviors, and lack of
objection to dogmatism, extremism and superstition, have declined the abilities of our society –
even the political, cultural and intellectual elite – to such an extent, that it cannot defend a
simple, moral and humane action of a fellow citizen, visiting a prisoner. This goes as far as,
forcing Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, to denounce his daughter’s humanitarian action, in face of the
uproar and coercion of the deceitful. Proclaiming visits as an offence, is not limited to the
visiting of a Bahá’í fellow citizen. Since 2009, visiting the Green Movement prisoners, who are
called seditious, and even assistance to the families of political prisoners – which is moral and
humane in any norm or ideology – is proclaimed as an offence. Not objecting to these obvious
atrocities and unjust innovations, has gone so far, that the security, and sometimes, judicial
systems, have forced a husband and wife to get separated and divorced, and have disintegrated
Experience has shown that, the majority of Iranians, regardless of the religion and belief of
others, have lived together in peace and amity, and anytime there has been an opportunity, they
have been a solace to the oppressed. The humanitarian, Islamic decrees of some noble scholars,
such as Mr. Montazeri, provide instruments to set aside theological rigidity, and take a step
toward humane coexistence.
It is befitting for the intellectuals, artists and politicians to take advantage of this human spirit,
and refute any division, animosity, oppression and discrimination against fellow citizens, because
of religion and belief. Violating the rights of human beings, for any reason or excuse, does not
bring honor and integrity to any religion or nation. Respect to common human rights, brings
dignity and integrity to Islam and our country.
The time has come to support the necessity of amicable human coexistence, and the important
principle of tolerance of dissidents, more assiduously.
Abdol-Ali Bazargan, Hasan Fereshtian, Mohsen Kadivar, Sadigheh Vasmaghi and Hasan Yousefi-
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