Iran’s Baha’i Problem

ABN Bahá'í News :

ABN NEWS- The Islamic Republic of Iran is facing a big problem. As a matter of fact, the problem

is so big that the Iranian leadership and State media cannot stop talking about it. They are very

very upset, suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety. This problem is so big that it has

unified the otherwise divided hardliners and pragmatists who now speak with one voice in the

name of all that is holy and sacred.

If you guessed that the problem is the highest per capita rate of executions in the world or the

torture of political prisoners, you are wrong. You are also mistaken if you assumed that the

problem is the highest per capita rate of opium addiction in the world. The problem is also not

billions of dollars of missing funds or one of the highest rates of corruption in the world. It is not

one of the biggest brain drains in the world because of the despair of its young talented citizens

either. If you thought it is the fact that more than half the Iranian people live under the poverty

line, you are also incorrect. It is not desertification and drought either even if this will result in

millions of climate refugees in the coming years. The problem is also not the murder and

starvation of thousands of innocent civilians in Syria. These problems are all trivial in

comparison with the private meeting between two prisoners of conscience that took place a few

days ago.

Ms. Faezeh Hashemi and Ms. Fariba Kamalabadi first became friends in 2012 in the women’s

ward of Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Ms. Hashemi is the well-known daughter of former Iranian

President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the most influential figures in the Islamic Republic.

She was a former Member of Parliament sentenced to six months for “propaganda against the

ruling system” because of her Islamic reformist political views. Ms. Kamalabadi is a psychologist

and one of the seven members of the leadership of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i religious minority.

She has been sentenced since 2008 to ten years in prison on absurd charges of “espionage for

Israel” and “insulting religious sanctities”. Her lawyer, Ms. Mahnaz Parakand, described the

indictment against them as “full of accusations and humiliations” against Baha’is without a shred

of proof. Ms. Kamalabadi’s daughter was thirteen when she was first imprisoned. She missed her

daughter’s graduation, wedding, and the birth of her grandchild. Finally, she was given a few days

to visit her family, during which time Ms. Hashemi visited her on account of their friendship. She

was accompanied by the legendary human rights lawyer, Ms. Nasrin Soutudeh, who was also a

former cellmate. All who have crossed paths with the imprisoned Baha’is have been inspired by

their example of selfless devotion and moral integrity. It is not a surprise that they have gained

such loyal supporters.

Once news of this meeting spread, the Iranian leadership became apoplectic. Scores of senior

clerics in the religious establishment condemned Ms. Hashemi’s meeting with a member of the

vilified and banned Baha’i minority. One high-ranking figure denounced “friendly relations” with

Baha’is as “treason against Islam and the Revolution” while another warned that “consorting with

Baha’is and friendship with them is against the teachings of Islam”. Yet another proclaimed that

meeting with a Baha’i is “an absolute religious deviation” while others threatened Ms. Hashemi

with criminal prosecution to set an example for others. Given the terrible woes of the Iranian

people and their discontent with their rulers, this obsessive medieval hatred of Baha’is speaks

volumes about the moral bankruptcy of the Iranian leadership and its long-standing scapegoating

of a peaceful religious minority. Jean-Paul Sartre famously said that “If the Jew did not exist, the

anti-Semite would invent him.” The psychology of hatred is above all a reflection of cowardice, of

the need for building a “self” by destroying the “other”. Iran’s Baha’i problem is obviously a

problem for Baha’is, but equally a problem for Iran, insofar as an identity built on hatred is an

affliction for both the victim and the perpetrator. As a psychologist, Ms. Kamalabadi would

understand this very well. The paranoid ideology that needs to imprison and vilify a grandmother

who simply wants to hold her grandchild is a political disease that needs to be cured through

sustained therapy. The fetishistic incantation of anti-Baha’i propaganda, the delusional

conspiracy theories, equating their mere existence as an “insult” to Islam, this is a mark of

desperation and weakness, to legitimize brute power through the hypnotic trance of fanatical

hatred and mob violence. The more that the long-suffering Iranian people demand a better future,

the more Iran’s powerful (but weak) security and intelligence establishment needs the Baha’is to

create a distraction.

It is an inspiring testament to the Iranian people and their decency that the likes of Ms. Hashemi

and Ms. Soutudeh, are joined by the ranks of other moral leaders such as famous dissidents Mr.

Mohammad Nourizad and Mr. Sadegh Zibakalam, and even eminent Shi’a clerics such as

Ayatollah Masoumi-Tehrani, who defy hatred and courageously stand in solidarity with their

Iranian Baha’i compatriots and call for their freedom and equality. It is this emerging leadership

that understands the catastrophic damage that all these years of religious hate-mongering and

violence has caused for the rich civilization of Iran that should be one of the most prosperous and

progressive countries in the world. The release of the seven Baha’i leaders is not just about seven

innocent souls suffering unjustly in prison. The Baha’i problem is a big problem. In fact, the

emancipation of Baha’is is about the emancipation of Iran; it is about escaping the prison of

hatred and deception that has eclipsed the potential of a great nation that could transform an

entire region being ripped apart by sectarian violence.

Amidst the outcry of both the world community and Iranian moral leaders calling for the release

of the seven Baha’i leaders, the frightened Iranian leadership should heed the immortal words of



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هذا الموقع مستقل ..وغير تابع للموقع البهائي العالمي .. ويصدر عن جهة اعلامية مستقله لشركة صحفية كبري متخصصة في المجال الصحفي والاعلامي . وهذا الموقع هو أحد اصدارات مؤسسة اعلامية أوروبية مستقلة لها عشرات الاصدارات من وسائل الاعلام المقروءة والسمعية والبصرية .. ونقدم الخبر والحقيقة مجردة من الأهواء الشخصية كفريق عمل واحد هدفه خدمة العالم الانساني بعيدا عن الظهور والتلميع.

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