Inciting Hatred Iran’s media campaign to demonize Bahá’ís

A special report of the Bahá’í International Community October 2011

www.bic.org/inciting-hatred

A special report of the Bahá’í International Community October 2011

www.bic.org/inciting-hatred

© 2011 by the Bahá’í International Community

866 United Nations Plaza

Suite 120 New York, NY 10017-1801 USA

http://bic.org

Inciting Hatred Iran’s media campaign to demonize Bahá’ís

Contents

Introduction

1 Outsiders in their own land

2 State-sponsored incitement to hatred

3 Main themes of anti-Bahá’í propaganda in Iran

4 The connection between propaganda and violence

5 A history of persecution

6 International efforts to combat incitement to hatred and Iran’s response

7 Conclusion — the Bahá’í response

I Appendix I — Sample articles

II Appendix II — Online summaries of all articles

Introduction

Alarmed by widespread incidents of religious intolerance and strife, the international community has increasingly turned its attention in recent years to combating incitement to hatred and violence.

While Iran has claimed to support such efforts, a systematic campaign of state-sponsored incitement to hatred is today underway in that country.

The target is the Bahá’í community, which has faced wide-ranging persecution at the hands of the Iranian authorities for more than three decades. Since 1979, more than 200 Iranian Bahá’ís have been executed and hundreds have been imprisoned.

While the killing mostly ceased after the 1980s, the Bahá’ís of Iran have remained under severe social and economic restrictions. Thousands have been deprived of employment and their property; young Bahá’ís are barred from higher education; Bahá’í administrative institutions have been dismantled; and virtually all opportunities for a viable community life have been curtailed.

In the last few years, the repression has intensified. The seven members of the group overseeing the administrative affairs of the Iranian Bahá’í community are behind bars, serving 20-year jail terms on trumped-up charges. Throughout the country, the number of Bahá’ís being harassed and detained on a daily basis has escalated.

One insidious element of this persecution however—which until now has been less well documented— has been the government’s extensive use of the mass media and other means to systematically denigrate and vilify Bahá’ís.

Repeated time and again throughout history, the pattern of demonizing and dehumanizing a segment of society is always a matter of grave concern. Through such propaganda, the victims’ humanity is denied. Blame for the economic and social problems of the country—and often the wider world—rests firmly with the “other,” who may be reviled as an animal, a vermin, a pest, a disease or as practicing witchcraft. In the case of Iran’s Bahá’ís, slanders and falsehoods are disseminated in state-controlled and state sanctioned media, through pamphlets and tracts, from pulpits, and at public exhibitions and events.

Bahá’ís are obsessively portrayed in official propaganda as the source of every conceivable evil. They are accused of being agents for various imperialist or colonialist factions; they face continuous but utterly unfounded allegations of immorality; they are branded as social pariahs to be shunned. The propaganda is shocking in its volume and vehemence, its scope and sophistication, cynically calculated to stir up antagonism against a peaceful religious community whose members are striving to contribute to the well-being of their society.

After 30 years of hate propaganda, it seems that the Bahá’ís have become an all-purpose scapegoat, so much so that the Iranian government now feels it can effectively smear its opponents merely by accusing them of being Bahá’ís, as if that were the most heinous crime.

The Bahá’í International Community has surveyed the continual stream of such propaganda disseminated online and through the Iranian press and broadcast media, over a period of some 16 months—from 17 December 2009 to 16 May 2011.

A sampling of articles, broadcasts and web pages produced by official and semi-official agencies has been collected. Broken down by category, the instances of anti-Bahá’í propaganda discovered during the period under review included:

ƒ. 367 articles in a wide range of print and online media

ƒ. 58 seminars, conferences and symposia

ƒ. Three documentary TV series and three additional TV programs

ƒ. Three radio series (among innumerable other mentions on radio)

ƒ. Two software data bases, available online or on CD

ƒ. At least two websites entirely dedicated to combating the Bahá’í Faith, and

ƒ. Five official exhibitions

This report analyzes the main themes of anti-Bahá’í propaganda in Iran and the connection between propaganda and violence. It examines this phenomenon in the context of international efforts to combat incitement to hatred and Iran’s own obligations. In conclusion, it reflects on the Bahá’í community’s response to three decades of appalling oppression.  

1 Outsiders in their own land

The Iranian people have, in recent years, begun to reassert their desire for genuine democracy and an end to human rights abuses. At the same time, there has also been a marked rise in attacks on Bahá’ís, as evidenced by increased arrests, harassment and imprisonments.

It is a pattern that has been seen before. Bahá’ís have been used frequently as scapegoats in times of turmoil when the general population in Iran has made demands for greater freedoms and social progress.

In this context, the high level of state-sponsored hate propaganda and violence against the Bahá’ís is a particularly disturbing development, with potentially dire consequences. The baseless accusations made in the current campaign of anti-Bahá’í propaganda reveal a desperate attempt to distract public opinion in order to justify the continuing denial of the fundamental human rights of Iranian citizens.

Iran’s obligations under international law

The international community has widely recognized the need to confront incitement to hatred and violence directed against religious minorities. The freedom of religion or belief and the protection of minorities against discrimination were among the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it was adopted in 1948. Since then, it has been repeatedly reaffirmed and codified in numerous UN resolutions and declarations as well as international covenants and treaties. The implementation of these rights is inextricably linked with the prohibition of hate speech. In particular, Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) expressly provides that:

“Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

Thus, the obligation of States under international law extends to preventing and punishing incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence. It is therefore unthinkable that a State charged by the ICCPR with protecting its citizens against religious hatred would itself aggressively pursue such incitement. Yet such is the case of the Iranian Government.

Iran signed the ICCPR in 1976. Diplomats representing the Islamic Republic have always claimed they are striving to abide by the Covenant, and Iran has explicitly participated in the Covenant’s ongoing application, submitting regular reports to the international Human Rights Committee charged with monitoring its implementation.

What is particularly ironic about Iran’s support of this policy, in the light of its own high degree of religious intolerance and discrimination, is that the contemporary discussion on religious hatred in the UN was the initiative of Islamic states concerned with “defamation” against Muslims whose beliefs were portrayed by some as fanatical and violent. The increasing manifestations of such negative stereotyping and intolerance—especially in the post-9/11 context—was understandably a concern among nations with Muslim majorities. These were the very states that proposed a series of resolutions that ultimately resulted in a reaffirmation of the obligation to protect against religious discrimination and incitement to hatred. The consensus of the 47-member UN Human Rights Council was reflected in a strongly worded, unanimously adopted resolution in March 2011.1

The resolution deplores “any advocacy of discrimination or violence on the basis of religion or belief.” Specifically, it condemns “incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” on issues of religion or belief “in any context.” It goes on to condemn any such advocacy of religious hatred in print, audio-visual or other electronic media.

A campaign of “othering”

Iran’s double-standard is glaring: it champions religious tolerance abroad only to deny it at home. In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, “there is no principle upholding freedom of religion,” the distinguished human rights lawyer Abdol-Karim Lahidji told a recent conference held at the University of Toronto, examining how Iranian authorities have sought to exclude Bahá’ís from social, political, cultural, and intellectual life by portraying them as outsiders in their own land—a process known as “othering.”

“The text of the Constitution itself offers evidence of religious discrimination… The Iranian regime does not respect the life, conscience, property, beliefs or religion … or dignity of the Bahá’ís …,” said Mr. Lahidji on 3 July 2011.

As set forth in detail in this report, Iran’s systematic campaign of inciting religious hatred against its Bahá’í citizens is one of the most flagrant examples of exactly the type of conduct that human rights law and the Council’s March 2011 resolution condemns.

A central element of the escalating campaign of persecution of Bahá’ís in recent years has been the use of the mass media and other means, such as “educational seminars,” to systematically demonize and vilify them. The diverse content of these attacks demonstrates tremendous effort and commitment of resources by the Islamic Republic.

Many attacks are built on gross distortions of Bahá’í history; some attempt a strategy of guilt by association through lumping Bahá’ís together with completely unrelated groups—such as “Satanists” or the Shah’s secret police; still others deploy a tactic of connecting Bahá’ís with “opponents” of the regime, which allows the Government to discredit both the Bahá’ís and its opponents in a single transaction. The campaign makes extensive use of the World Wide Web, and often uses graphic images that portray Bahá’ís as fiendish ghouls or agents of Israel.

The demonization of Iran’s Bahá’í community is a matter that deserves the attention of governments, international legal institutions, and fair-minded people everywhere. If the Islamic Republic is not 1 UN Document A/HRC/RES/16/18 —“Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.” Held accountable, this ongoing campaign of State-sponsored hatred and religious persecution could easily lead to escalating violence and even the potential resumption of the executions that the Bahá’ís suffered in the 1980s.

The extent to which the current—or any future—Iranian regime manages to accommodate, or even embrace, the Bahá’í community will be the litmus test for the country’s broader human rights situation, evidence of the degree to which all citizens enjoy equal rights without discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. Iran’s exclusion of its largest religious minority from the pale of legal protection, and the attendant political culture of hate-mongering, are fundamentally incompatible with any reasonable conception of democracy. And as long as this scapegoating against Bahá’is a feature of the Iranian political culture, the prospects of realizing human rights and freedoms will remain remote.

Photo caption: This image — of the classic shrouded figure of death — has been used to illustrate a number of anti-Bahá’í articles on government sponsored or pro-government websites and blogs in Iran.

2 State-sponsored incitements to hatred

Among the most significant facts that emerge from an analysis of the propaganda in the period under review—17 December 2009 to 16 May 2011—is the high level of government involvement in creating, directing and disseminating anti-Bahá’í hatred.

The regime has attached an extraordinary importance to such demonization. First, the incitement occurs at the highest levels of the government, including the direct participation of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Second, the propaganda has become increasingly imaginative, weaving together a broad and often contradictory spectrum of inflammatory accusations in absurd combinations that attribute every conceivable evil to the Bahá’ís, including but not limited to: espionage for Israel, promiscuity, armed rebellion, “cult-like” practices, opposition to the government, and, of course, animosity towards Islam.

The common thread of an alleged Bahá’í hatred of Islam creates a “mirror effect” by justifying hatred against Bahá’ís. As illustrated below, with the ever-increasing enthusiasm to invent original accusations to embellish the more established accusations, the new anti-Bahá’í propaganda has even accused the Bahá’ís of cooperating with a virulently anti-Bahá’í movement (the Hojjatieh) that is also perceived as anti-regime. Thus, in addition to all their alleged criminal designs, evil conspiracies, and assorted misdeeds, the Islamic Republic now accuses Bahá’ís of collaborating with anti-Bahá’í groups.

In October 2010, a series of articles reported on anti-Bahá’í remarks made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech given on 19 October 2010 in Iran’s religious center, Qom.

The Supreme Leader’s speech was broadcast in its entirety on Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcaster (IRIB), the national television service, and also reported on by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the government’s official news agency. The following are excerpts from the IRNA story, which ran on 19 October 2010.

“Enemies of the Islamic Revolution who intend to inflict damage on the revolution have two main targets, the religion of the people and their devotion to the revolution,” said Ayatollah Khamenei.

“An establishment which is based on religion will not yield to the pressure of enemies and bullying powers,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

He emphasized that the country’s enemies had failed to create a rift between the Iranian nation and the officials of the Islamic establishment.

He further added that the country’s enemies have raised doubts about religious values in an attempt to weaken the pillars of people’s faith, “especially the young generation through promoting immorality, false Sufism, promotion of Bahaism and promotion of home-based churches. These are tactics that enemies of Islam, today, carefully study and plan with objective of weakening religion in the society.” He continued, “Enemies intend to disappoint people with the country’s officials and sow the seed of pessimism.” Three significant points need to be made about the article and its subject. First, the speech being reported is being given by Iran’s Supreme Leader—whose word is tantamount to a divine directive. He stands at the top of the government hierarchy, above even the president.

Second, the main thrust of the article is about enemies of Iran—and of Islam. It is an appeal both to nationalist and religious passions. By including Bahá’ís in the list of enemies, the Supreme Leader confers upon them a stigma of the worst sort.

Finally, as demonstrated by ensuing events, the speech was obviously part of a premeditated campaign to set a particular tone and direction in state policy. Over the weeks following the Supreme Leader’s comments, the initial coverage was followed by a number of articles providing supporting analysis and commentary of the speech. Many of these amplified its anti-Bahá’í theme.

 

Photo caption: Numerous Iranian government websites and news outlets gave wide coverage to an October 2010 speech of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he identified Bahá’ís as enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 

On 23 October 2010, for example, the government-affiliated Fars News Agency published an interview with Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Gharavian, a faculty member of the Imam Khomeini Institute, offering his commentary.

Mr. Gharavian is quoted as saying: “One of the warnings of the Supreme Leader was the growth of the Bahaists. His intention in issuing this warning was to make sure that the seminaries are sensitive to these misguided sects, especially the Bahaists and Wahhabists, which are colonial sects and were created by Britain and Russia in Iran. The seminaries should exert their utmost effort in educating their students in confronting these ‘deceptive ideologies’…the supreme leader warns, about the growth of these ‘deceptive ideologies’… and it is the duty of the seminaries to provide forces to confront these groups.”

The following day, on 24 October, the government-affiliated Raja News Agency likewise published an interview with Said Ghasemi, identified as “one of the chief commanders of the Holy Defiance,”2 who accuses Bahá’ís of sedition.

According to the article, Mr. Ghasemi stated that the Supreme Leader’s speech clarified matters related to the upheaval after the 2009 presidential election. The people responsible for the upheaval, he said, were Bahá’ís, Mujahedin, Mr. Mousavi himself, Mr. Karoubi, and many other figures inside the government such as Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani and his children, reformists, monarchists, the son of the late Shah and the princesses, and Mr. Masoud Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedin.

Mr. Ghasemi continued by saying that the interesting point is that “the Bahái’s, who had never participated in any of the elections before, were suddenly instructed to stand behind the sedition of the Green movement. It would be an interesting debate to clarify how every one of them was able to gather together behind a unified line of action or what mysterious power integrated them into one body.”

Over the next few days, amplification of the Supreme Leader’s remarks continued. In an article posted to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) website on 27 October, Iran’s Minister of Intelligence, Hojjatoleslam Heydar Moslehi, also accused Bahá’ís of “sedition” for their alleged participation in post-election protests, without a shred of evidence. What is extraordinary is the unprecedented attempt to associate Bahá’ís with a notoriously anti-Bahá’í group in furtherance of anti-Bahá’í propaganda. The article claims:

The gathering of the Bahaists and the Hojjatieh Society in the recent acts of sedition was worthy of attention.

One of the noteworthy issues in discussing this sedition is that the organization that was running the sedition was not created and organized [just] before the election; rather, this issue has a 20-year [history].

These organizations, with their impressive crowds who were the center of these seditious activities, had in reality been waiting for an opportunity, and with the use of their planning mechanisms, especially in cyberspace and its social networks, they saw the tenth elections as a perfect opportunity [to carry out their plans].

The plan of the arrogant [powers] was that the Hojjatieh Society, the Bahaists, anti-union elements, communists, those opposed to the Islamic revolution, even a group of religious people who were against the Islamic revolution, would congregate; and the most remarkable 2 A reference to the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. Thing in the recent acts of sedition was the involvement in this gathering of both the Bahaists and the Hojjatieh Society.

The running theme in these articles is clear: Bahá’ís are enemies of the state and the Islamic religion. Quoting high government officials, they falsely connect Bahá’ís with groups long hated by Iranian authorities, such as colonial powers, the Mujahedin organization and the flagrantly anti-Bahá’í Hojjatieh Society. The Hojjatieh Society was founded in the 1950s to oppose the Bahá’í Faith as part of its mandate to protect and purify Islam. However, it was banned in the early years of the Islamic Revolution because its theological views clashed with those of the Ayatollah Khomenei. The suggestion that it is collaborating with Bahá’ís is as credible as suggesting collaboration between the Ku Klux Klan and their African-American victims.

The above example illustrates both that incitement to hatred emanates from the very highest authorities of Iran and that, in the imaginations of the propagandists, virtually any accusation can be made against the Bahá’ís, no matter how ridiculous or contradictory.

Photo caption: This image has appeared on a number of progovernment, anti-Bahá’í websites. It was used, for example, to illustrate an 8 January 2011 story on the Kalameh News site that claims Bahá’ís in Tehran hold meetings on Shiite holy days in which men, women, and girls pray together — and then shed their clothing, “listen to vulgar music, and celebrate.”

3 Main themes of anti-Bahá’í propaganda in Iran

The propaganda campaign against Iranian Bahá’ís uses arguments and “evidence” that—while often internally contradictory or patently false—is designed to have the greatest possible emotional impact on the wider population.

During a three year period from 2005 to 2008, for example, the semi-official Kayhan newspaper published more than 200 specious and misleading articles about Bahá’í teachings, history and activities. This effort was echoed on television and radio. The Kayhan articles, in particular, deliberately engaged in a distortion of history, painting Bahá’ís as tools of colonial powers or Israel, and portraying them as morally corrupt.

The Bahá’í International Community’s examination of government-sponsored or government enabled anti-Bahá’í propaganda reveals a number of recurring themes. These include:

ƒ. That Bahá’ís are anti-Islamic, actively working to undermine Islam;

ƒ. That the Bahá’í Faith is a “misguided sect” or somehow associated with other “deviant” “cultlike” practices, such as Satanism;

ƒ. That Bahá’ís are agents of Zionism or spies for Israel and Western countries;

ƒ. That Bahá’ís are morally corrupt, engaging in highly offensive practices;

ƒ. That the Bahá’í Faith was created by—or has a historic connection with—imperialist powers, specifically Great Britain or Russia;

 ƒ. That Bahá’ís were influential in the government of the Shah.

Most of these themes are not new. In recent months, however, several new themes emerged. These included:

ƒ. That Bahá’ís are the instigators of the rising tide of opposition to the government;

ƒ. That Bahá’ís have influence over “anti-regime” Iranian human rights activists, including the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi and others;

ƒ. That Bahá’ís participated in—or even planned—the Ashura day protests of December 2009, including charges that they possessed arms and ammunition;

ƒ. that foreign broadcasters, in particular the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA), are controlled by or under the influence of Bahá’ís because they cover stories about human rights violations against Bahá’ís;

ƒ. That the Bahá’í Faith uses brainwashing to entice Muslims away from their faith;

ƒ. That Bahá’ís use sexually attractive young women to lure converts.

In most cases, however, each instance of anti-Bahá’í propaganda recorded during the period was not confined to one theme only. The majority of articles wove several themes together, demonstrating the degree to which the government is looking for a multitude of ways to demonize Bahá’ís.

 The Islamic Republic’s obsession with inciting hatred against its Bahá’í citizens is demonstrated in this table which lists the number of times a particular theme or term appeared in the catalog of some 440 articles or reports of seminars or broadcasts that were compiled by the Bahá’í International Community from 17 December 2009 to 16 May 2011:

Theme or term in an article Number of articles Percent

Bahá’ís are “misguided,” “deviant,” or “Satanist” 281 64%

Bahá’ís are a “sect” or “cult” 277 63%

Bahá’ís are “Zionists” or affiliated with Israel 76 17%

The Bahá’í Faith was created by colonial powers 58 13%

Bahá’ís influence human rights activists 43 10% Bahá’ís are anti-Islam 41 9%

Bahá’ís are associated with opposition to the government 39 9%

Bahá’ís are involved in sedition 34 8%

Bahá’ís are involved in spying or espionage 34 8%

Bahá’ís exert control over foreign media 30 7%

Bahá’ís exerted control over the Shah 22 5%

Bahá’ís are morally corrupt (e.g. marriage, sexual relations) 16 4%

Bahá’ís deny or desecrate the Qur’an 14 3%

 

Detailed examples of anti-Bahá’í propaganda

The depth, breadth and vitriolic nature of anti-Bahá’í propaganda is perhaps best illustrated by the presentation of a few examples in detail. It can be seen that nearly all of them primarily seek to connect Bahá’ís to some enemy of the regime, whether real or imagined. Some of these “enemies” are outside of Iran—such as Israel or the United States. Others are internal, whether manifested politically in the Green Movement or morally in the idea that Bahá’ís somehow pose a threat to Islamic values.

As with most campaigns, the accusations against Bahá’ís are predicated by imaginary or distorted factual premises that are assumed to be self-evident. These are then twisted or spun into an utterly false allegation which might be somewhat believable, especially by a population without access to alternative points of view.

On this point, Bahá’ís have been completely denied access to any form of media inside Iran that would allow them to explain or rebut the baseless accusations against them. Indeed, the Iranian media is forbidden to write or broadcast anything in support of Bahá’ís. The following examples illustrate that without such control over the media, the absurd and utterly false nature of the accusations against Bahá’ís could easily be exposed.

The Bahá’í Faith is a “deviant, misguided sect”

Some 64% of the articles surveyed by the Bahá’í community contains language branding the Bahá’í Faith as a “deviant, misguided sect” and even as “Satanists.” Such references are often made in passing, as in a 14 April 2010 article from the Fars News Agency that quoted the Director General of Endowments and Charitable Affairs of East Azerbaijan as urging mosque leaders to be watchful for “perverse” groups. “Satanists, Bahaists, Wahhabists are growing and active and we should increase our efforts in the mosques’ religious and cultural activities,” he said.

Other articles strive to make a more explicit connection, referring to the “satanic goals” of Bahá’ís, or calling Bahá’ís part of a “satanic system.”

On 17 December 2009, for example, the Rasa News website, a conservative news agency operated by clerics in Qom, published an interview about the “sinister goals of Bahaism” with Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Kamalvand, identified as a professor at a Tabriz seminary and university.

“Today Bahaism has entered the field with great financial resources and started a large propaganda effort. Today Bahaism raises the issues of human rights and equality and non-violence, words that are pleasant for many, but reality is something else.”

The twisted nature of this propaganda is extraordinary: project onto the victim every wrongful act that you yourself are engaged in. The article goes on to warn that, “[w]hile Bahaism is currently trying to change its wicked profile… we should enlighten youth regarding the satanic goals of the enemies of Islam.”

In early 2009, the state-run radio network Radio Maaref began broadcasting a weekly anti-Bahá’í program called Saraab (“Mirage”). According to the website Ayande-ye-Roshan, the programs “analyze the deviant sects, Babism and Bahaism.” Aimed at youth, the series reportedly sought to inform listeners about “the connection between Bahaism and western colonialism.”

It goes without saying that any fair examination of the Bahá’í Faith reveals that referring to it as a “deviant, misguided sect” is wholly false and an obvious attempt to impugn the Faith’s reputation. This accusation is based on the casual assumption that any religious views that are not officially approved by the Iranian clerical leaders are “misguided” and that consequently, the Bahá’í Faith is merely a “sect” that needs to “return” to Islam, rather than an independent religion with its own teachings and history.

The real issue here, however, is not the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith but rather, why the Islamic Republic confers upon itself the right to stigmatize its citizens in matters of conscience and belief instead of respecting their freedom in such matters.

“Cult-like” accusations

Photo caption: This illustration has been featured on several Iranian anti-Bahá’í websites. It shows a cult worshiper bowing before blazing tombstones that have been superimposed in front of a picture of the entrance to the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh. Bahá’ís naturally find such an image repugnant, as would the follower of any religion whose holiest site had been similarly depicted. Below is an actual photograph of the Shrine, which was recognized in 2008 by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, possessing “outstanding universal value.”

Among the themes that have emerged more recently from the fertile mind of the Islamic Republic’s propagandists is that Bahá’ís are some sort of predatory “cult” that engages in practices such as “brainwashing” and controlling its unwitting followers.

Scholars who have studied this new trend suggest that Iran is trying to broaden its attack on Bahá’ís by expanding from traditional theological attacks to those with a more contemporary flavor, with the goal of prejudicing the increasingly secular-minded Iranian population. The effort, those scholars note, uses anti-cult language associated with the work of Western psychologists who studied and categorized movements like Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church in the 1970s

Authorities have, for example, made much of a series of anti-Bahá’í books allegedly written by Mahnaz Raoufi. Mrs. Raoufi was a Bahá’í who, after being imprisoned and then forced to watch her husband’s torture, reportedly recanted her beliefs and “converted” to Islam in the mid-1990s. According to official propaganda, having been liberated from this “misguided sect,” she has since been named as the author of a number of books that claim to “expose” the inner workings of the Bahá’í community. In recent years, numerous excerpts from her books have been published in government affiliated newspapers in Iran, and local authorities or agencies have hosted numerous speeches or seminars that feature her as a lecturer. In 2006, for example, Kayhan published a 77-article series about a book titled The Grim Shadow: Memoirs of a person saved from Bahaism.

The book discusses the following ideas: that immorality is promoted and encouraged in the Bahá’í Faith; that followers are prohibited from contacting clergy; that children are brainwashed; that Bahá’ís wished for the death of Muslims during the Iran-Iraq war; and that Bahá’ís were gratified at the passing of Imam Khomeini.

Such themes are clearly designed to inflame the sensibilities of devout Shiite Muslims.

The portrayal of the Bahá’í Faith as a predatory cult can also be seen in recent statements by a number of top government officials, such as those of Mohammad Javad Larijani, a judiciary official who, as head of the national human rights council, led Iran’s delegations to the UN Human Rights Council in 2010.

In November 2010, several Iranian websites posted a Press TV interview with Mr. Larijani, during which he alleged that the Bahá’í Faith is a cult that—among other things—does not allow new converts to leave. It is an allegation that is both utterly false and a demonstration of the discriminatory double-standard under the Islamic Republic’s laws—which provide that Muslims “leaving” their religion are “apostates” and may be punished with death.3

The fact that Mr. Larijani is entrusted with the promotion of human rights demonstrates the depth of cynicism underlying the hate propaganda and attempts to appropriate this cause to legitimize abuses. The following is a translated transcript of the interview:

“Bahaism is not a religion in Iran. The Jews are a minority [religion] and they have even members in the Parliament. The Christians are a minority [religion] and they have members in the Parliament. Zoroastrians are a minority [religion]. Bahá’ís are a cult and they are governed by the law which deals with various cults. To the extent that this cult does not prevent its followers from leaving, they are tolerated. Consequently, you can find Bahá’ís in universities as students and as teachers. There are more than 300 Bahá’í students in universities and there are [Bahá’í] professors. They are very affluent people; they have big factories and companies. So, they are protected by law according to the law which we refer to as a “citizenship contract”—regardless of their religion; so long as they [i.e., Bahá’ís] function within the structure of the law, they are under protection [of the law]. But the trouble begins when they start to act as a closed-door cult—meaning that people can get in but they can’t get out. We have had numerous such cases; some young Bahá’ís who wanted to leave this cult said this doesn’t make sense to us. So they have been summoned to meetings and have been warned that if they leave this cult they’ll be punished, will be debarred from inheritances and put under pressure. Accordingly, here the law steps in and will prevent the use of this much exclusivity or cultish domination.

Any cult, whether Bahá’í or Shia—it doesn’t matter—will be prevented by law from operating. We have had numerous cases of cults’ practices, even with Shia groups. People have been jailed because they were putting people in some farms and not permitting them to leave. So we will fight with any cult that prevents its followers the freedom to leave the cult, whether Shia or Bahá’í; it doesn’t matter.”

3 The Telegraph (United Kingdon), “Hanged for Being a Christian,” 11 October 2008. http://www.telegraph. co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/3179465/Hanged-for-being-a-Christian-in-Iran.html

Other recent articles suggest that Bahá’ís offer “hard cash” to potential converts to join them,4 that their efforts to educate children are designed to “indoctrinate” children into becoming “blindly obedient,” and that they operate in a secretive, “undercover” fashion.5 Some of these articles are so absurd and cynical that they resemble George Orwell’s 1984. There is no end to the contradictory imagination of Iran’s demonologists as they work ever harder to incite intolerance while portraying it as concern for human rights.

Bahá’ís are Zionists or agents for Israel and other Western countries

A more common and long-standing theme is that Bahá’ís are somehow agents of Israel or “Zionists,” an allegation that goes back to the earliest days of the Islamic Revolution—and even before.

This accusation, of course, also serves to categorize Bahá’ís as enemies of the Islamic Republic, and more generally all Muslims, including Palestinians. It also effectively plays on prejudices against Jewish Iranians and the increasing resort to anti-Semitic propaganda, such as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the holocaust.

Iranian propagandists make great play of the fact that the world headquarters and a number of important holy places of the Bahá’í Faith are located in Israel. What they fail to mention is that this historical circumstance was driven in large part by the Iranian rulers of the past: Bahá’u’lláh was banished to the Ottoman prison city of Acre—which now sits within the borders of modern-day Israel—in 1868 at the behest of the Iranian government of the time. It was this exile that led to the location of Bahá’í sacred shrines and establishment of the Bahá’í World Centre in the neighboring city of Haifa. From the latter years of Bahá’u’lláh’s incarceration in Acre to the present day, the Bahá’í community has in fact been respected by, and has enjoyed a peaceful relationship with, people of all religious backgrounds in the region. Indeed, agricultural efforts by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—the son of Bahá’u’lláh—were largely responsible for averting a famine that would have devastated the Palestinian population during the years of the First World War. His funeral in 1921 was attended by some 10,000 mourners of Christian, Druze, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds. Today, Bahá’ís in the Holy Land continue to support interfaith and intercultural activities in support of religious co-existence.

4 25 October 2010 Tabnak News Agency report.

5 10 November 2010 Javan Online report.

 

Despite this history, however, Iranian Bahá’ís have faced questions about their allegiance, ever since the founding of modern Israel. Opposition to Zionism combined with religious fanaticism led to Iranian Bahá’ís being branded as anti-Islamic by virtue of their association with the city of Haifa. In the 1960s, for example, a clerical society declared Bahá’ís as “middlemen” for the Israeli state.6 After the clerics took over in 1979 and founded the Islamic Republic, this type of anti-Bahá’í rhetoric increased exponentially.

In the early years after the Revolution, Bahá’ís under interrogation were asked such questions as: “How much money did you send to Israel?” A number of Bahá’ís were executed on trumped-up charges of “spying” for Israel. More recently, the high profile trial of seven national-level Bahá’í leaders in 2010 also included charges that they were “spies” for Israel. On that false accusation and others they were convicted and imprisoned for 20 years.

During the period under review, the charge that Bahá’ís are Zionists or agents of Israel appeared in more than 75 articles. A 10 March 2010 article, for example, posted to the Rasa News site, quoted Hojjatoleslam Ali Jadeed Benab as saying: “The usurper Israel deepened its penetration into Iran through the deviant sect of Bahaism. Bahaism was the liaison between the Shah and Israel and had widespread influence in Iran before the Revolution.” The article described Hojjatoleslam Benab as the former head of the Islamic Propaganda Agency of East Azerbaijan and author of The Field of Zionist Studies. It continued by quoting him:

6 Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, “Anti-Bahaism and Islamism in Iran,” in The Bahá’ís of Iran: Socio-historical studies, ed. Dominic Parviz Brookshaw and Seena B. Fazel and Brookshaw, 222-223 (London and New York: Routledge, 2008)

Many anti-Bahá’í articles make extensive use of Jewish or Israeli symbols, such as this montage with the Israeli flag that accompanied an 8 September 2010 story about how Bahá’ís use water coolers to attract followers in Iran [see page 20]. The black words say “Bahaism” in Persian.  

“Bahaism, as the agent of Israel in Iran, created such conditions that Iran became the second country to recognize Israel and this influence spread to the most sensitive official posts in Iran. Zionist enmity toward Iran mirrors its hostility towards Islam, which has been manifestly evident in recent years.”

 A series of television documentaries, broadcast on the official Sima Television News Network since 2008, served to reinforce this idea by proposing inflammatory conspiracy theories that are simply absurd. Titled The Secrets of Armageddon, the series has presented various conspiracy theories about Israel. The three episodes that aired on 19, 20, and 21 January 2011, focused on the Bahá’í Faith. Among other things, those episodes suggested that:

ƒ. the “misguided Bahaist sect” acted as an arm of international Zionism during the monarchist regime to systematically influence the political, military, and cultural branches of the Shah’s regime; with the efforts of the “misguided Bahaist sect,” the strategy [of Israel], prior to the Islamic revolution, was to turn Iran into a second Israel;

ƒ. “Reliable sources” confirm how this “misguided sect” and its agents directly participated in a number of incidents aiming to wipe out and destroy Islam in the past two centuries.

Regarding the common allegations that the Bahá’í Faith was created by, or at least, has a historic connection with colonialist powers, specifically Britain or Russia, these charges are creations of anti-Bahá’í propagandists. No serious historian of any persuasion has ever given credence to these far-fetched theories that seek to portray a religion indigenous to Iran as a “foreign conspiracy” or to the absurd proposition that it was at its inception a creation of the British and Russian imperialist powers, notwithstanding their intense enmity and rivalry— and that today it has undergone a metamorphosis such that an entire religious community of 300,000 people, including children, operates as “agents” of the United States or Israeli government.

Given the centrality of this accusation against the Bahá’í community, it is telling that in more than 30 years, the Islamic Republic has not been able to produce one iota of evidence that Bahá’ís are in any way engaged in espionage for Israel or other foreign governments. The preposterous theories that Bahá’ís are part of a “Zionist conspiracy” to wipe out Islam is nothing more than a reflection of the moral bankruptcy of those that have to sustain their power through incitement to hatred.

Bahá’ís are the instigators of the rising tide of opposition

A theme that emerges in articles collected during 2010 and early 2011 is the idea that Bahá’ís are somehow instigators of the rising tide of opposition to the government, or exert an undue influence over human rights activists such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. More than 50 articles during the period in question strive to make some connection between Bahá’ís and “opponents” of the government in the much-contested 2009 presidential elections.

 This appears to be an attempt to give anti-Bahá’í propaganda a two-fold purpose: by associating Bahá’ís with the opposition to the government, both are vilified in the minds of pro-government supporters and religious fanatics.

Many Iranians perceive the so-called “Green Movement” in Iran not just as a banner for the loose coalition that emerged before, during and after the 2009 election but rather, a broader social movement and civil society coalition that has been many years in the making. Beyond the controversy arising from the vote-count, the millions of non-violent protestors in the streets of Iran’s cities were merely demanding human rights and democracy, not unlike similar movements that led to the so-called “Arab Spring.” The fear that similar challenges to its power may once again emerge and spread, as it has elsewhere in the region, offers one reason why the regime has made such extensive use of anti-Bahá’í propaganda to discredit popular demands for freedom. It is simply a pretext to legitimize the violent repression of Iranian citizens and perhaps explains why respect for the human rights of Bahá’ís is intimately linked to the wider human rights situation in Iran.

While Bahá’ís are actively engaged in supporting social progress and justice throughout the world, they are prevented by their religious principles from participating in partisan politics. While free to vote for the candidates of their choice, their teachings preclude involvement in organizing parties, or other aspects of partisan political involvement. This has been true for all of Iran’s national elections, including the 2009 presidential contest. The suggestion that Bahá’ís are somehow instigators of the opposition to the government in Iran—in addition to their alleged links to numerous other conspiracies and evil designs—is a thinly veiled attempt to deflect criticism of the increasing social ills and economic problems confronting the Iranian nation.

This attempt to suffocate dissent, rather than engage in a non-violent dialogue, explains the flood of anti-Bahá’í propaganda in the period immediately after the December 2009 Ashura Day protests. Much of it alleged that Bahá’ís were deeply involved in the protests.

In one example, on 11 January 2010, Kayhan published an article that accused Bahá’ís of not only participating in those protests but of “managing” them.7

The article begins with a headline proclaiming “The think tank behind the Green Movement turned out to be Bahá’ís.” Its lead paragraph then promised to present “new clues about the active role played by the colonialist Bahaism party in the management of the green sedition.”

The article then makes a reference to the “detention of 10 Bahaist leaders” in connection to the protests. This appears to refer to the wrongful arrest, on 3 January 2010, of ten Bahá’ís who were accused of playing “a role in organizing the Ashura protests” and namely for “having sent abroad pictures of the unrest.” Some of the ten were also accused of having arms and ammunition in their homes. The ten were never convicted of these alleged crimes, which the Bahá’í International Community exposed as “a blatant lie.”

“Bahá’ís are by the most basic principles of their faith committed to absolute nonviolence, and any charge that there might have been weapons or ‘live rounds’ in their homes is simply and completely unbelievable,” Diane Ala’i, the Bahá’í International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said at the time.

7 http://kayhannews.ir/881021/2.htm#

It seems that the accusations were simply intended to justify the arrests of Bahá’ís and the broader repression against any form of perceived dissent. A reading of the articles that followed the 2009 Ashura Day elucidates the link between the propaganda and arrests:

The Kayhan article continued:

“After the detention of ten leaders and members of the Bahaist sect during the desecration of the day of Ashura, the ‘Jaras’ site had hastily announced: the detained persons would confess on television that they participated in the riot of Ashura by following orders from the center of command of the Bahá’í community.…

In the past few days, the anti-revolution Jaras network has been trying to portray the colonialist and freemason party of Bahaism as non-violent on the one hand, while calling the rioters and desecrators of the day of Ashura non-combatants and merely civil objectors. Of course, this site has not explained that if Bahá’ís are against riots and interference in politics, what were they doing in the disgraced riots of Ashura and fighting against Islam and Islamic Order and Imam Husain?

The recent unprecedented haste of Jaras is noteworthy because its main administrators have special connections with the Bahá’ís and Bahaism. For example, Mohsen Kadivar, who pretends to be a cleric and has fled and lives in America, by deceiving Mr. Montazari, was able to get a decree (Fatwa) from him about the rights of the Bahá’is! This action has been unprecedented in the annals of the history of Shi`ah Islam… Other elements such as Abdu’l-Karim Sorush and Akbar G., [Akbar Ganji] also have served Bahá’í leaders and their English and American bosses by denying the prophetic mission and the divinity of the Quran and attacking the belief in Mahdi’ism. Ata’u’llah Mohajerani (brother-in-law of Kadivar) is another of the administrators of the Jaras network. It is rumored that some members of Kadivar’s family are Bahá’ís. Recently this team announced itself as the think tank of the green movement.

The article then quotes Diane Ala’i, calling her a representative of Bahá’is “outside the country,” as correctly saying that Bahá’is are “committed to absolute non-violence.” But the article continues, contradicting that, saying: “This claim is made notwithstanding that many leaders of the bloodthirsty SAVAK and the Army and Police during the Pahlavi regime were well-known Bahá’ís.” Finally, it adds: “It should be noted that the headquarters of the Bahá’ís is located in the occupied Palestine and is officially directed by the Zionist regime.”

This article is perhaps a particularly useful illustration of the cocktail of imaginary crimes that are attributed to the Bahá’ís. The article not only seeks to tie Bahá’ís to the Green Movement, but also to SAVAK8 (another long-standing accusation) and to Israel. And it seeks to undermine the idea that Bahá’ís are committed to non-violence—something that is well known throughout Iran and the wider world.

8 SAVAK is the Anglicized acronym for Iran’s secret police under the Shah, Sazeman-e Ettela’at va Amniyat-e Keshvar, the National Intelligence and Security Organization.

The suggestion that millions of Iranians protested in the streets in the summer of 2009 because of the instigation of Bahá’ís is a ludicrous proposition that is not supported by a single shred of evidence. The charge that Bahá’ís had ammunition or weapons in connection with the Ashura Day protests is equally absurd. This is yet another desperate attempt to portray an entire peaceful community as a terrorist group when there is no evidence that any Bahá’í has ever engaged in any form of violence at any point during the past 30 years.

Bahá’ís are morally corrupt

Another recurring idea in the anti-Bahá’í propaganda is that Bahá’ís are somehow morally corrupt, engaging in practices that would be offensive to Muslims. On the contrary, Bahá’ís are known throughout the world for striving to uphold a high moral standard and for being of service to their wider communities.

Articles about Bahá’ís being morally corrupt often appear in the context of warning Muslims about the efforts of Bahá’ís to spread their Faith, such as this 8 September 2010 article9 that appeared on the Javan Daily website and in several other government-affiliated news sources:

Recently the misguided Bahaist sect has started sending water-coolers to hot areas of the country to attract young adults.

Shia Online writes: To attract more numbers, the misguided Bahaist sect is renting shops and gardens in Muhammad-Shahr, Abbas-Abad, Karaj and its suburbs. Some of these activities are done with the assistance of some foreign citizens.

Serving alcoholic drinks, dancing and holding various celebrations and parties are among the activities of this misguided sect. Previously, on the 15th of Sha’ban [birth date of the 12th Imam] these people [Bahá’ís] also appeared in public with satanic emblems. Some of these emblems are carved on rings and necklaces of members of this sect.

 It is interesting that to attract the young adults they send a number of water coolers to some tropical areas of the south and southeast of the country.

This article advances several themes at once: that Bahá’ís are involved with foreigners, that they serve alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam (and also in the Bahá’í Faith), and the ludicrous assertion that they were wearing “satanic emblems” on a Shiite holy day when religious sentiments are heightened. There is also the suggestion that Bahá’ís, if they engage in humanitarian activities, are doing so with a nefarious purpose. In effect, charitable work is criminalized—this in a society that, despite its tremendous oil wealth, suffers from significant poverty, disease, and other ills.

9 http://www.javandaily.com/vdcc1xq002bqs18.ala2.html  

Other slanderous articles allege that Bahá’ís engage in practices like marrying and having sexual relations with family members. A 1 May 2011 article published by the pro-regime Student News Network, also presses many themes at once. The article opens by complaining about criticism of

Iran’s treatment of Bahá’ís in a report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. It continues:

The report has stressed that the activities of Bahaism and Sufism must become free and there were expressions of frustration about the way the Islamic Republic treats the Bahá’ís,” says the article.

 The Bahá’í sect was manufactured by the British 172 years ago. After the formation of Israel, with the support of the British, this sect came to the attention of Israel due to its tenacity and sectarian hatred against Islam and the Quran. Israel even protects their property, and they are exempt from paying taxes there…

There are many immoral teachings among the sect’s beliefs; for example, in Bahaism only marriage with one’s stepmother is forbidden. Otherwise, they are free to marry their daughters, sisters, aunts and uncles. They are free to have sexual relations with them.

Other articles during the period under examination have alleged that Bahá’ís send out young women, who use the power of “sexual attraction,” to lure Muslims away from their religion.

Once again, there is not a scrap of evidence to suggest that Bahá’ís are morally corrupt, let alone any explanation as to why a government should make such accusations against its own citizens as a pretext to deny their fundamental human rights. One of the self-created grounds for this charge is the fact that Bahá’í marriage is not recognized by the government, leading to charges that Bahá’ís engage in promiscuity and extra-marital affairs. If the Islamic Republic is seriously concerned with this situation, it can begin by solemnizing Bahá’í marriages in Iranian law.

Dismissing the Bahá’í principle of the equality of men and women as the “mingling of men and women” or the “promotion of feminism” implies that it is somehow an immoral or criminal activity instead of something to be welcomed. The Bahá’í community’s dedication to social progress and justice is thus, in the inverted morality of the regime’s propagandists, a cause for its demoralization.

Iran’s campaign to demonize Bahá’ís seeks even to reach children. In a shameful attempt to instill a lifelong prejudice among the young against Bahá’ís, on the last day of school in 2008, school authorities in Shiraz distributed to every primary schoolchild a sealed envelope with a “gift” from a local publishing company. Inside was a 12-page illustrated story book titled The Deceitful Babak, which tells a thinly disguised story of the Báb, the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, in an erroneous, mocking, and degrading manner.

 4 The connection between propaganda and violence

There are many situations in the world today that demonstrate the intimate relationship between incitement to hatred and violence against vulnerable minorities. In extreme situations, such as the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, incitement may even lead to “ethnic cleansing” and genocide. In the Iranian context, the incidence of hate propaganda has been marked by a rise in incidents of violence against Bahá’ís and Bahá’í properties, carried out, according to the government, by unknown individuals and groups. These attacks have come above and beyond an increase in arrests, detentions, imprisonments, and confiscations that were clearly undertaken by the government or its agents.

Here is as an example, of one such typical attack on a Bahá’í in the period under review. In September 2010, a Bahá’í from Sari, serving out a term of exile in the city of Eghlid, was severely assaulted by two unknown attackers. The police arrived shortly thereafter at the scene but said that since the attackers could not be identified, they could do nothing. The Bahá’í had been told at the start of his exile by local officials that he should not interact with the people of Eghlid, “because the citizens of Eghlid are very conservative and prejudiced toward the Faith and it is not in his own interest to be known as a Bahá’í as it could result in danger for him.”

Beyond assaults on individuals, recent years have witnessed a surge in attacks—principally arson and vandalism—on Bahá’í-owned businesses and properties. These have occurred in virtually every part of the country, often under the cover of night

Photo caption: A Bahá’í-owned shop in Rafsanjan, Iran, targeted by arsonists. Several businesses run by Bahá’ís there have suffered serious damage in a wave of attacks in the city since 25 October 2010. The attacks were accompanied by an anonymous letter warning “members of the misguided Bahaist sect” not to teach their faith.  

 Arson

Arson attacks on Bahá’í properties have often been accompanied by the sending of anonymous letters, the scrawling of anti-Bahá’í graffiti and other threats. In October-December 2010, more than a dozen arson attacks were directed against Bahá’í-owned shops in the city of Rafsanjan. During the same period, a letter of warning addressed to the “members of the misguided Bahaist sect” was thrown into about 20 Bahá’í homes. The letter warned Bahá’ís against teaching their faith, saying they have no citizenship rights and no protection. It warned of more attacks unless they signed a pledge not to teach the Faith, not to associate with Muslims except for work-related matters within their workplaces, and to refrain from hiring Muslim apprentices in their shops.

Attacks on Bahá’í cemeteries

Since 2005, Bahá’í cemeteries in more than a dozen cities and towns have been vandalized, bulldozed or subjected to fire bombings. These are almost always carried out at night. Such attacks have occurred in Abadeh, Boroujerd, Darzikola, Ghaemshahr, Gilavand, Hamadan, Isfahan, Ivel, Jiroft, Mashhad, Najafabad, Sangsar, Semnan, Tehran, Yazd, and Zarnan.

In the Middle East, cemeteries are especially sacrosanct. In part because of such sensitivities, Bahá’ís excluded from Muslim cemeteries established their own communal plots. Hence, for many years, Bahá’ís were able to bury their dead in relative peace. But, in coincidence with the increase in statesponsored anti-Bahá’í propaganda, attacks on Bahá’í cemeteries and holy places have also increased. In March 2011, for example, a newly established cemetery in Sangsar, Semnan Province, which had been given to Bahá’ís with one small room built by the municipality, was vandalized by unknown intruders. The graves were piled high with dirt, the trees were uprooted, and the two small rooms built by the Bahá’ís were destroyed. The items which had been in the storage room were buried under the ground.

Photo caption: The Bahá’í cemetery in Yazd was destroyed in July 2007 by unknown attackers. The tracks and severity of the damage are from bulldozers or other heavy equipment — the use of which would not easily be possible without official sanction. Dozens of Bahá’í cemeteries have been desecrated in this way.

The episode in Semnan

The prolonged opposition faced by Bahá’ís in the city of Semnan—some 175 kilometers east of Tehran—strongly exemplifies the connection between officially sanctioned incitement and violence against the Bahá’í community.

Over a period from 2008-2010, a series of incidents in the city included the firebombing of Bahá’í properties, hate graffiti being scrawled on Bahá’í-owned buildings, the vandalizing of a Bahá’í cemetery, and the denouncing of Bahá’í children in public schools.

Many of the incidents followed a two-part anti-Bahá’í lecture series held in the city, which, according to Internet reports, sought to analyze the link between the Bahá’í Faith and Zionism. Apparently sponsored by an anti-Bahá’í Islamic cultural organization, at least one of these lectures was held in the Semnan Red Crescent Society theater. It featured an address by Mahnaz Raoufi, mentioned earlier in this report (see page 14), the author of several books that purport to “expose” the truth about Bahá’í practices. Bahá’ís were also attacked during a Friday prayer session at the local mosque by a cleric who stated that they needed to be expelled from the city.

Within weeks of those rallies, on 15 December 2008, the homes of some 20 Bahá’ís were raided by local authorities. During these dawn raids, Bahá’í materials, computers, and mobile telephones were seized. Nine Bahá’ís whose homes were raided were arrested, one at the time of the raids and eight more later, all on entirely false or illegal charges relating purely to their peaceful practice of the Bahá’í Faith. A number of those arrested have since been sentenced to prison; some have since served their time and been released.

During the same period, unidentified arsonists in Semnan attacked at least three Bahá’í-owned businesses, threw firebombs at several Bahá’í homes, and set fire to buildings at the Bahá’í cemetery.

These attacks were reinforced by a decision made in early 2009 by the Semnan Chamber of Commerce and some 39 associated trade unions to prohibit the issuing of business licenses or managerial permits to Bahá’ís and to decline to renew existing ones.

On 14 September 2009, a mob of about 20 unruly extremists gathered in front of the Semnan city hall and the provincial governor’s office. They shouted slogans “Death to Bahá’í,” demanding that greater pressure be put on the Bahá’ís. The day before, a similar group had barged in during the burial service of a Semnan Bahá’í. Uttering insults and threats, they tried to interrupt the service.

Reports have also emerged from Semnan that Muslim clerics during this period were invited to give presentations in classrooms that insult the Bahá’í Faith, and that Bahá’í schoolchildren have been in some cases segregated from their classmates. On at least two occasions, Muslim students were encouraged to strike Bahá’í students.

5 A history of persecution

Ever since the Bahá’í Faith was founded in Iran in the mid-nineteenth century, its members have been the victims of episodic outbursts of persecution. At least 4,000 of its earliest followers were killed by those who viewed the nascent Faith—known then as the Bábí10 movement—as heretical to Islam.

Iranian Bahá’í history is “marred by perpetual persecution since the faith’s inception,” wrote Professor Eliz Sanasarian. “The clergy and religious segments [in Iran] have always held a deep hostility against the Bahá’ís. They were the true ‘infidels,’ in the strict application of the term, to be dealt with harshly and to be destroyed.”11

But more than simply a matter of religious persecution, the Iranian government’s ongoing dissemination of anti-Bahá’í propaganda can be understood also as a response to the struggle of Iran’s people for a democratic transformation in the country. The use of Bahá’ís as a convenient scapegoat for all the regime’s woes is part of a historical pattern of justifying authoritarianism through the construction of imaginary enemies against which the populace must unite in uncritical obedience to their leaders.

Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi of the University of Toronto has written about the historical roots of contemporary anti-Bahá’í sentiments, observing that “the scapegoating of Bábís was actively promoted by the Qajar state at a time when it faced a serious crisis of legitimacy. To win over the Shiite seminarians and ulama, the Qajar statesmen initiated a well-orchestrated public anti-Bábí campaign. By concurrently ‘othering’ Bábís and stressing some national religious traditions … the Qajar state actively promoted Shiism as the core of modern Iranian identity.”12

Professor Tavakoli-Targhi also notes that the violent persecution of Bahá’ís was not the inevitable expression of religious differences. “Instead of encountering the Bábís in a seminarian style of dialogue and debate, and thus fostering the formation of a national democratic public sphere, the Shia’ hierarchy opted for a violently repressive mode of encounter with Bábís and Bahá’ís.” Accusations of Babism, Professor Tavakoli-Targhi observed, were utilized “as an effective instrument for silencing the voices of dissent in the formative phase of modern Iranian polity.”

 In the years leading up to the Islamic Revolution and immediately afterwards, accusations against Bahá’ís caused the “anti-Bahá’í movement to become an inseparable component of an Islamist movement seeking desperately to establish a one-religion future for Iran,” said Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi.

10 The term Bábí refers to the mid-19th century religious movement founded in Iran by Siyyid Ali Muhammad, known as the Báb, from which the Bahá’í Faith emerged.

11 Eliz Sanasarian, Religious Minorities in Iran, 52 & 114 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

12 Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, “Anti-Bahá’ísm and Islamism in Iran, 1941-1955,” Iran Name, Vol. XIX, Nos. 1-2, Winter & Spring 2001.) 

 

“In the ‘Iranian peoples’ movement ‘to win their freedom,’ the civil liberties of all Bahá’ís were taken captive at the hands of ‘the Muslim nation.’ As a result, in the second half of the twentieth century, Iranian civil society became party to a contradiction that lives on to this day.”

During the 20th century, periodic outbreaks of violence against Bahá’ís continued, with the government often using them as a scapegoat. In 1933, for example, Bahá’í literature was banned, Bahá’í marriages were not recognized, and Bahá’ís in public service were demoted or lost their jobs; in 1955, the government oversaw the demolition of the Bahá’í national center in Tehran and many Bahá’í homes were plundered after a radical cleric began broadcasting anti-Bahá’í rhetoric on national radio.

While most of these previous episodes of persecution were the response of a secular government to pressures of the religious clergy and the political factions they influenced, the coming of a genuine theocracy in 1979 changed everything for the worse for Bahá’ís.

 More than 200 Iranian Bahá’ís were killed. Countless more were imprisoned and subjected to torture, deprived of employment, education, and their properties. Bahá’í sacred sites have been razed to the ground. Not even cemeteries have escaped a government policy that aims at eradicating this religious community. In recent years, contrary to increasing demands among Iranians for equality among all citizens, the government has instead intensified its repression. It has imprisoned the entire national Bahá’í leadership and intensified intimidation and abuses against members of the community throughout the country.

After a series of United Nations resolutions condemning Iran’s actions, the Iranian government ceased its killing of Bahá’ís, focusing more in the early 1990s on the social, economic and cultural restrictions on the Bahá’í community that were already underway. These measures specifically sought to block the development of Bahá’ís, including efforts to deprive them of their livelihood, destroy their cultural heritage, and ensure young Bahá’ís could not attend university.

In the past decade, the government has again stepped up its harassment of Bahá’ís, fine-tuning a policy of oppression that has seen an escalation in revolving door arrests and detentions, a rise in the number of Bahá’ís imprisoned, and a series of government memorandums that announced or reiterated explicitly anti-Bahá’í policies.

A recent briefing paper published by the Minority Rights Group International, stressed that the “persecution of minority religions — or, in fact, any Iranian minority — is most pronounced in the case of the Bahá’ís. This religious minority group does not enjoy the constitutional guarantees that are formally afforded to Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, nor, indeed, any legal protection under Iran’s Islamic laws. Officially, they are considered heretics who constitute a political opposition and not a religious community, thereby attempting to undercut protestations to respect international laws and conventions on the freedom of religion.”

6 International efforts to combat incitement to hatred and Iran’s response

Since its founding in 1945, the United Nations has sought to establish the equal rights of all people, everywhere. Its Charter encourages “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved in 1948 by the UN General Assembly, specifically identified the “right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion” as a fundamental human right. It also says that all people “are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”

 These ideas have since been elevated to international legal obligations with the adoption of various covenants and treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Covenant, for example, guarantees the right to freedom of expression, and, in Article 18, spells out the right to freedom of religion or belief:

1.         Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

 2.        No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

 3.        Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Moreover, Article 20 of the ICCPR expressly prohibits hate speech:

“Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

Despite these clear prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of religious belief, a number of countries in the late 1990s began to explore whether these protections went far enough in combatting attacks on religion and religious believers. This discussion, initiated by Islamic countries, eventually led to the adoption in March 2011 of the resolution13 by the Human Rights Council that, among other things:

ƒ. Deplores “any advocacy of discrimination or violence on the basis of religion or belief.” 13 A/HRC/RES/16/18

ƒ. Notes “with deep concern the instances of intolerance, discrimination and acts of violence in many parts of the world, including cases motivated by discrimination against persons belonging to religious minorities, in addition to the negative projection of the followers of religions and the enforcement of measures that specifically discriminate against persons on the basis of religion or belief.”

ƒ. Expresses “concern that incidents of religious intolerance, discrimination and related violence, as well as of negative stereotyping of individuals on the basis of religion or belief, continue to rise around the world, and condemns, in this context, any advocacy of religious hatred against individuals that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, and urges States to take effective measures, as set forth in the present resolution, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat such incidents.”

ƒ. And condemns “any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, whether it involves the use of print, audio-visual or electronic media or any other means.”

Iran’s position – and obligations

In debates over how to combat the negative stereotyping of religion, Iran has been far from silent.

 In 2005, for example, it supported a resolution in the UN General Assembly that, among other things, deplored “the use of the print, audio-visual and electronic media, including the Internet, and any other means to incite acts of violence, xenophobia or related intolerance and discrimination towards Islam or any other religion.”

In 2009, Iran put forward language at a UN conference on racism and related intolerance that expressed serious concern at “instances of defamation of religions which manifest itself in projecting negative insulting and derogatory images of religions and religious personalities, generalized and stereotyped associations of religions, in particular Islam.”14 Most importantly, as noted earlier, Iran is a signatory to the ICCPR, which explicitly prohibits hate propaganda and has the force of an international treaty. Iran signed the Covenant in 1976, and has never renounced it. Indeed, diplomats representing the Islamic Republic have always claimed their government is striving to abide by the Covenant, and Iran has explicitly participated in the Covenant’s ongoing application, submitting regular reports to the Human Rights Committee charged with monitoring its implementation.

How, then, has Iran justified its persecution of Bahá’ís and, by extension, its extensive support for anti-Bahá’í propaganda?

When confronted about the government’s persecution of Bahá’ís, representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran have given a variety of answers, which are frequently contradictory.

14 “Iran attempts domination of racism debate,” UN Watch, 7 April 2009. http://blog.unwatch.org/index. php/2009/04/07/iran-attempts-domination-of-racism-debate

Iranian officials repeatedly peddle obvious falsehoods—denying that Bahá’ís are persecuted; claiming that they are virtually non-existent as a group; stating the Bahá’í Faith is not a “divine” religion in the understanding of Islam—all this to assert that they are somehow unworthy of the protection afforded by international guarantees of freedom of religion or belief.

This was the case when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was asked about the persecution of Bahá’ís in 2007 during a visit to the United Nations. He replied simply:

“In our constitution, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism are recognized as official religions. When we speak of religions, we refer to divine religions. In our country we follow that law, a law that is based on the majority vote of the people.”

This argument echoes much of the anti-Bahá’í propaganda, which, as noted, tries to connect Bahá’ís with foreign governments, suggesting it is a political creation, not a religion. Needless to say, such an assertion is flagrantly inconsistent with any reasonable notion of human rights. It is in effect a declaration by the government that they will only respect the freedom of those that they deem worthy of having freedoms. It renders the very understanding of inalienable human rights meaningless.

By all accounts, the right to freedom of religion or belief is not limited to officially “recognized” or “traditional” religions. Rather, it encompasses the full range of belief, including new religions and, even, atheism or non-belief. Asma Jahangir, then the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, put it this way in her 2007 report to the Human Rights Council:

“[F]reedom of religion or belief is not limited in its application to traditional religions or to religions and beliefs with institutional characteristics or practices analogous to those of traditional religions. Furthermore, it has been established that article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ‘protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief.’ ”

 Iranian officials have shifted their tactics somewhat in recent times, moving from arguing that Bahá’ís are heretics, through the argument that they are an anti-Islamic colonialist political group, to the new assertion that even if the Bahá’í Faith constitutes a “non-divine” religion, it has dangerous “cult-like” elements that justify its repression.  

Photo caption: Iran’s campaign to demonize Bahá’ís seeks even to reach Iranian children, in an attempt to instill a lifelong prejudice against Bahá’ís. In May 2008, for example, school authorities in Shiraz distributed to every primary schoolchild a 12-page story book titled The Deceitful Babak. The book indirectly but obviously refers to the Báb, the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith, in an erroneous, mocking, and degrading manner.

At a high-level review of Iran’s human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council in February 2010, for example, the head of Iran’s national human rights committee, Mohammed Javid Larijani, made the following claim:

“With respect to the rights of Bahá’ís, all Iranian citizens enjoy equal rights, and color and race constitute no immunity. The number of religions as considered official religions, Bahá’ís are not one of them, but they enjoy official citizenship rights,” said Mr. Larijani.

“No Bahá’í is prosecuted in Iran because he is Bahá’í. The sensitive area is a cult type of activity. They enter it and they can’t get out on their own free will. These are illegal, even for Shia. Cult type of activity is against the basic human rights of the people.”15

The government has thus appropriated the language of human rights in order to justify repression of human rights.

15 Transcript produced by UN Watch. http://www.unwatch.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=bdKKIS NqEmG&b=1316871&ct=8008557&printmode=1

7 Conclusion – the Bahá’í response

In their public rhetoric, Iranian officials have claimed to support the ideals of religious tolerance and freedom that are today deeply woven into the fabric of international law and human rights norms. Iranian officials have also vocally supported international efforts to combat various forms of incitement to hatred or violence over religious belief.

The reality however is in direct contradiction to these efforts.

Today, the actions of the Iranian government are those of intimidation and violence against any citizen whose belief does not conform to the official ideology of the State. In this regard, respect for the fundamental rights of Bahá’ís is part of a broader struggle to move from authoritarianism and violence to democracy and non-violence.

The government’s 30-year, systematic persecution of its Bahá’í citizens has been well documented, offering facts that prove Iran’s violations of international law with respect to guarantees of religious freedom—along with concomitant violations of legal due process and other basic human rights that have touched not only Iranian Bahá’ís but many other Iranian citizens.

To this we must now add the evidence of a systematic, state-sponsored campaign to incite hatred against Iranian Bahá’ís, who represent a well-established, indigenous sub-population of more than 300,000 individuals.

Iran, as a member of the international community and a signatory of key international treaties that prohibit such behavior, must be held accountable for these activities.

Even allowing for the likelihood that some Iranian Muslims may well feel prejudice against the Bahá’í minority in their midst, the Iranian government is certainly obligated by international law to extend their full protection to Bahá’ís against such ignorant discrimination.

 Instead, however, it is the government of Iran itself that is the main source of such inflammatory propaganda.

A secret 1991 memorandum, ratified by Iran’s Supreme Leader and released by the United Nations in 1993, outlined a comprehensive plan to block the development and progress of the Bahá’ís, denying them every opportunity to have an influence on Iranian society.

As part of this systematic strategy, the Iranian government has sought through its channels of communication to arouse feelings of suspicion, distrust and hatred for the Bahá’ís in their midst. Nearly every article surveyed misrepresents Bahá’í beliefs in a manner designed to cause maximum offence to Muslims.

History has shown that the hatred of an entire population can be stirred up by such a relentless, systematic repetition of falsehoods and myths that can become common credence as a result. When aroused citizens take violent action against their neighbors—whom they have been repeatedly told are traitors, corrupt or unclean—the offending authorities can absolve themselves of responsibility by blaming the actions on the populace.

“Words should be seen as a force with the potential of unleashing powerful energy, positive or negative,” Professor Eliz Sanasarian has written. “Name-calling and stereotypes, through repetition, become accepted as truth with ‘fully elaborated systems of concepts, beliefs and myths.’”

Despite this prolonged and systematic attack on its integrity and values, Iran’s Bahá’í community is not dispirited, demoralized or downtrodden. Nor have they risen up to counter-attack their oppressors with force or any trace of bitterness. Rather they have calmly stated their case and called for their fundamental human rights with dignity and courtesy, winning the admiration of their compatriots, observers and, in some cases, even those who are obligated to oppress them under government policy.

In the midst of oppression aimed at their very eradication, the Bahá’ís of Iran have instead been turning their attention to the contributions they can make to improving society. Fundamental Bahá’í ideas—truthfulness, trustworthiness, the elimination of prejudice, the equality of the sexes—are being explored in conversations that are integral to the wider discourses of society from which the Bahá’ís are debarred. Reports received by the Bahá’í International Community provide evidence that this is a community committed to social progress despite the fact that every measure is being taken to silence its voice.

To respond in such a manner to the continuing onslaught of slanderous propaganda is a remarkable phenomenon. Equally unexpected has been the discovery that the majority of Iran’s citizens have not been found to view the Bahá’í community in the manner that the authorities portray them. Accounts received by the Bahá’í International Community indicate that a growing portion of the populace has been praising their courage, audacity, patience and steadfastness. They have been discovering that Bahá’í ideals resonate with those among their fellow citizens who also wish to see their country progress. Some of them are also suffering similar oppression—as students and academics, as journalists and social activists, as artists and poets, as progressive thinkers and proponents of women’s rights, and even as ordinary citizens.

Far from being cowed by oppression, the Bahá’ís have determined to stand proudly by their principles and continue to live according to the Bahá’í teachings. They are refusing to let the dehumanizing impact of public propaganda against them result in their becoming the very embodiment of such allegations. In showing what they stand for, the Bahá’ís of Iran are demonstrating the falsity of the language of those who wish to see their progress blocked and influence diminished, if not completely eradicated.

In the meantime however, the parallels between Iran today and other state-sponsored, antireligious campaigns of the past, are undeniable. The tragic fact is that such campaigns are among the foremost predictors of actual violence against religious minorities—or, in the worst case, precursors of genocide.

It is a matter that deserves the attention of governments, international legal institutions, and fair-minded people everywhere. The international community must take appropriate measures to let Iran know that such egregious violations of international law and norms will not be tolerated. 

  1. Appendix — Sample anti-Bahá’í articles and English translation

Starting on page 36 are reproductions of some “screen shots” of actual anti-Bahá’í articles published by government-run or government-sponsored websites and news services, with an English translation provided on the opposite page.

Note that in the past, when the Bahá’í International Community has called attention to certain Iranian government web pages, those pages have later disappeared.

 Reproduced are:

ƒ. An 8 March 2011 article from the pro-government Rasa News site saying that “Bahaism” seeks to subvert Islam. The article features an image of the Grim Reaper.

 ƒ. A 10 March 2010 article posted to the Rasa News site that purports to quote the author of a book on Zionism as saying that Israel “penetrated” Iran during the time of the Shah by using Bahá’ís as “agents.”

ƒ. An 11 January 2010 story in the semi-official Kayhan newspaper that accused Bahá’ís of not only participating in 2009 Ashura Day protests but “managing” them, as part of a “Green sedition.”

 ƒ. A 28 November 2010 article posted on GERDAB, a “revolutionary guard” website that discusses how the “Bahaism sect” is distributing “misguided” materials on the Internet. Illustrating the article is a ghoulish figure wielding a sword.

ƒ. An 8 September 2010 article posted to the semi-official Javan Daily website that claims Bahá’ís are sending “water coolers” to hot, southern regions to entice people to convert. It also claimed Bahá’ís wear “Satanic emblems.” The page is illustrated with an image of the Israeli flag with the words “Bahaism” on it.

ƒ. A 24 September 2010 Iran Newspaper Network story that quotes the national Minister of Intelligence as claiming that Bahá’ís were among those involved in the 2009 post-election “sedition” against the government

II. Appendix — Summaries of the 400- plus articles monitored for this report

Online only

Readers who wish to know more details about the scope and scale of Iran’s campaign to incite hatred against members of the Bahá’í community of Iran can find a 197-page appendix to this report online at:

http://www.bic.org/inciting-hatred

That appendix contains short summaries, ranging from one to several paragraphs, of each of the 400-plus documents or articles that were collected by Bahá’í International Community during the main period of this survey, from 17 December 2009 to 16 May 2011.

As noted in the introduction to this booklet, this sampling of articles, reports, broadcasts or web pages produced by official or semi-official agencies includes summaries of:

ƒ. 367 articles in a wide range of print and online media

ƒ. 58 seminars, conferences and symposia

ƒ. three documentary TV series and three additional TV programs

ƒ. three radio series (among innumerable other mentions on radio)

ƒ. two software data bases, available online or on CD

ƒ. at least two websites entirely dedicated to combating the Bahá’í Faith, and

ƒ. five official exhibitions

Headline: Bahaism in pursuit of gradual subversion of Islam

(English translation of the opposite page.)

Date: 8 March 2011

Subhead: By an expert in Bahaism

Text: A knowledgeable expert in the sect of Bahaism commented on the activities of this manmade sect in our country and said that this sect is trying to gradually overthrow the Islamic regime by instigating doubts in the minds of people.

According to a Rasa Press reporter in Urumieh, Mir Kazem Mosavi, who is an expert on Bahaism, in a conference yesterday on ‘Bahaism from the start to …’ expressed his concern about the increased activities of this sect and added that this group is using the internet to shake the faith of the young Muslim Iranians and intellectuals thus causing a slow overthrow of the regime.

He added that creating false religions is and has been a technique of the colonialists to divert people’s attention from true religion and towards the false ones. The appearance of superficial mysticism was witnessed in Judaism and Christianity and has been successful in attracting people.

Referring to the efforts of the colonialists in corrupting Islam, Mosavi said that in line with the belief in ‘Mahdaviat’ [anticipating the appearance of the Promised One or the Mahdi], around 150 years ago, with assistance from the British, a man-made group by the name of Babism and the Bahá’í religion was created in our country.

Based on the studies of researchers and historians, he attributed the orientation of the Bahá’ís to be the diversion of the Iranian nation from following the grand Ayatollahs to following a man-made belief.

This expert on Bahaism confirmed that the fictitious doctrine of Bahaism was trying to prove the superiority of the irrational over the rational and thus facilitate people’s distraction from religion and religiosity towards secular schools of thought.

Referring to Bahá’í activities prior to the Islamic revolution, Mosavi said that since the beginning of Imam Khomeini’s successful revolution, this group had been trying to regain its superior status that it enjoyed during the Pahlavi regime. It has continued to attack Islam and tried to overthrow the Islamic government, and it seizes every opportunity to attain its ominous goal.

He referred to the aftermath of the last election and added that one of the arrested Bahá’ís in the Ashura unrest of the previous year had admitted that during the preceding 8 months, they [the Bahá’ís] had been encouraged by their institutions to enter the arena of politics.

Mosavi also blamed the recent Tehran unrest on the false sect of Bahaism with the aim of overthrowing the regime. He said that seven Bahá’ís were arrested during these demonstrations.

Referring to the international backing enjoyed by this sect in our country, Mosavi added that this group, in recent years, had been beating the drum of the innocence of the Bahá’ís in the Islamic Republic to weaken the position of Iran among of the world community and there has been some sporadic international support for them.

URL: http://www.rasanews.ir/Nsite/FullStory/?Id=99956

Headline: An author in the field of Zionism scholarship

(English translation of the opposite page.)

Date: 10 March 2010

Subhead: Bahaism is created and funded by the Zionists for infiltration in Iran

Text: Rasa News: Former Director General of Islamic Development in East Azerbaijan [Province] said: The usurper Israel at the time of oppression under the Shah, deepened its infiltration in Iran through the deviant sect of Bahaism.

Hojjatoleslam Ali Jadeed Benab, former Director General of Islamic Development in East Azerbaijan in an interview with a Rasa News reporter in Tabriz explained the role and place of Zionism facing Islamic nations and Iran.

The author of the book of the operation of Zionism with regard to the world of Islam in pointing out their past antagonism towards Islam, said: Jewish militancy against Abrahamic religions, especially Islam, has its roots in the history of the evolution of religions and God, in the Qur’an, [which] also refers thereto.

 He noted that a segment of this people plotted to expand the territory of Israel through forming organized institutions in the last century and said that the design, from the Nile to the Euphrates, was a scheme that has been the purpose of the founders of this regime, the first design of which has been drawn in Europe.

The professor of the school and the universities of Tabriz, in speaking of the significant spread of the infiltration and domination of Zionism in the world in various dimensions, said that this infiltration can be seen in the various cultural, political and social and economic spheres.

Hojjatoleslam Jadeed Benab expounded upon the infiltration of Zionism in Iran: “The usurper Israel deepened its penetration into Iran through the deviant sect of Bahaism. Bahaism was the liaison between the Shah and Israel and had widespread influence in Iran before the Revolution.”

Referring to the historical documentation in existence he offered: “Bahaism, as the agent of Israel in Iran, created such conditions that Iran became the second country to recognize Israel and this influence spread to the most sensitive official posts in Iran. Zionist enmity toward Iran mirrors its hostility towards Islam, which has been manifestly evident in recent years.”

The author of the book of the operation of Zionism with regard to the world of Islam emphasized: “Antagonism of Zionism towards Islamic Iran has also been in line with the same antagonism towards Islam, which in previous years can be abundantly seen.”

URL: http://www.rasanews.ir/NSite/FullStory/PrintVersion/?Id=77519

 Headline: The think tank of the Green seditionists turned out to be Bahá’ís

(English translation of the opposite page.)

Date: 11 January 2010

TEXT: New clues have emerged indicating the active role played by the colonialist Bahaism party in the management of the green sedition.

After the detention of ten leaders and members of the Bahaist sect during the desecration of the day of Ashura, the ‘Jaras’ site had hastily announced: the detained persons would confess on television that they participated in the riot of Ashura by following orders from the center of command of the Bahá’í community. Jaras also predicted that the confessions of the members of the Mujahidin organization (Monafeghin) would be broadcast on television. In the past few days, the antievolution Jaras network has been trying to portray the colonialist and freemason party of Bahaism as non-violent on the one hand, while calling the rioters and desecrators of the day of Ashura non-combatants and merely civil objectors. Of course, this site has not explained that if Bahá’ís are against riots and interference in politics, what were they doing in the disgraced riots of Ashura and fighting against Islam and Islamic Order and Imam Husain?

The recent unprecedented haste of Jaras is noteworthy because its main administrators have special connections with the Bahá’ís and Bahaism. For example, Mohsen Kadivar, who pretends to be a cleric and has fled and lives in America, by deceiving Mr. Montazari, was able to get a decree (Fatwa) from him about the rights of the Bahá’ís! This action has been unprecedented in the annals of the history of Shi`ah Islam, especially considering the fact that the misguided Bahaism has been trying overtly in recent decades to rise against concepts such as millenarianism and Imamat, which constitute the foundations of Shi`ah Islam. Other elements such as Abdu’l-Karim Sorush and Akbar G., [Ganji] also have served Bahá’í leaders and their English and American bosses by denying the prophetic mission and the divinity of the Quran and attacking the belief in Mahdi’ism. Ata’u’llah Mohajerani (brother-in-law of Kadivar) is another of the administrators of the Jaras network. It is rumored that some members of Kadivar’s family are Bahá’ís. Recently this team announced itself as the think tank of the green movement.

It should be noted that yesterday, Diane Alai, the representative of the Bahá’ís outside the country said, “Commitment to absolute non-violence is one of the fundamental believes of the Bahá’ís, and we deny any claim that they have found guns and ammunitions in the homes of Bahá’ís.” This claim is made notwithstanding that many leaders of the bloodthirsty SAVAK and the Army and Police during the Pahlavi regime were well-known Bahá’ís. They played major roles in the torture and murder of ten thousand revolutionary men of Iran in years 42 to 56 and 57 [Persian calendar].

It should be noted that the head quarter of the Bahá’ís is located in the occupied Palestine (Haifa) and is officially directed by the Zionist regime.

URL: http://kayhannews.ir/881021/2.htm#

Headline: The new role of the misguided Bahaism sect in cyberspace

(English translation of the opposite page.)

 Date: 28 November 2010

 Text: The misguided Bahaism sect has commenced a new round of activities in cyberspace.

According to a Gerdab’s report quoted from Javan online, it has been observed recently that based on a plan by the House of Justice, educational pamphlets and DVDs and misguided books of Bahaism sect have been made available on internet for download and distribution.

This report adds that the leaders of this misguided sect have issued strong instructions to their followers to exert their utmost efforts in spreading and distributing these files.

Sometime ago, a few of the leaders of this misguided little group were found and arrested in connection with these same activities in some towns in the Province of Mazandaran.

NOTE: This appeared on a site which is apparently run by the Revolutionary Guard, called “Revolutionary Guard Cyber Defense Command (RCDC).”

URL:http://www.gerdab.ir/fa/news/3065/%D8%AF%D9%88%D8%B1- %D8%AC%D8%AF%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D9%81%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%DB%8C %D8%AA-%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%82%D9%87-%D8%B6%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87- %D8%A8%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%A6%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D8%AF%D8%B1- %D9%81%D8%B6%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B2%DB%8C

Headline: “Water-coolers: A tool to attract people to the misguided Bahaist sect”

(English translation of the opposite page.) Date: 8 September 2010 Text: Recently the misguided Bahaist sect has started sending water-coolers to hot areas of the country to attract young adults. Shia Online writes: To attract more numbers, the misguided Bahaist sect is renting shops and gardens in Muhammad-Shahr, Abbas-Abad, Karaj and its suburbs. Some of these activities are done with the assistance of some foreign citizens. Serving alcoholic drinks, dancing and holding various celebrations and parties are among the activities of this misguided sect. Previously, on the 15th of Sha’ban [birth date of the 12th Imam] these people [Bahá’ís] also appeared in public with satanic emblems. Some of these emblems are carved on rings and necklaces of members of this sect. It is interesting that to attract the young adults they send a number of water coolers to some tropical areas of the “south and southeast” of the country.” URL: http://www.javandaily.com/vdcc1xq002bqs18.ala2.html

Headline: The Ministry of Intelligence announced the publication of documents linking the perpetrators of the 2009 sedition with foreigners (English translation of the opposite page.)

Date: 24 September 2010

 Photo caption: Hojjatoleslam Heydar Moslehi said: In the near future, we will bring to light documents showing the interference of the usurpers and their links to the internal perpetrators, especially those of the sedition following the elections.

Text: According to the Iran Network report, Hojjatoleslam val Moslemin Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence, in proceedings unveiling software of the spiritual martyrs society held in the conference rooms of the Office of Islamic Development, said that today many of the elites of our academy are under invasion by the CIA and they are coming to the field with scientific discussions.The moment our elites leave the country they [CIA agents] go after them via cyberspace and tell them “We want to work for Shiite [religion] and Islam,” but they pursue their anti-religious aims.

Hojjatoleslam Moslehi said in referring to the sedition of last year: The 2009 Sedition was a sedition that had brought together all groups from [those that were] 100 percent secular to those believing in religion to counter the Revolution, individuals who in no way had any adherence to religion, even the hypocrites, Wahhabism, Bahaism were present in this group. But the thing that is painful is that unfortunately, despite the enlightenments of the great leader, there are still a number who have not awakened from their rabbit-like sleep and they have not found the necessary insight.

The Minister of Intelligence added to his statement, “In the near future, we will bring to light documents showing the interference of the usurpers and their links to the internal perpetrators, especially those of the sedition following the elections.” A number still believe that this is an electoral conflict, and if we say that this sedition has ended, this is an invalid imagining; since the sedition can never be ended, rather it is causing a change in the method.

He clarified the statement, “The leaders of the sedition are thinking of rebuilding their own personalities”: They have invested heavily in this regard, they hold meetings with the devotees and clerics, and the Supreme Leader, with the tact given him by God, is aware of their intentions.

Based on his report, the Minister of Intelligence gave news thus of the recognizing the perpetrators of Wednesday’s terrorist incident of Mahabad, through the Unknown Soldiers of the Lord of the Age.

He announced: The group that has designed and carried out these terrorist actions, has been recognized through the [efforts of the] Unknown Soldiers of the Lord of the Age, and the process of pursuit is also continuing in the same way so we are hopeful that soon in the Sacred Defense Week we punish these individuals for their deeds.

URL: http://www.inn.ir/newsdetail.aspx?id=54059 

Inciting Hatred

 Iran’s media campaign to demonize Bahá’ís

 A special report of the

Bahá’í International Community

 October 2011

www.bic.org/inciting-hatred

© 2011 by the Bahá’í International Community

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