[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM Persian]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
[Publication:] Akhbar-e Amri [Baha’i News]
[Date:] Mordad 1327 [July/August 1948]
[Issue No.:] 4
The text of the letter which was written to the Ministry of Interior on 23 Farvardin 1327 [12 April 1948], is shown below for further information of the friends:
[The following] is respectfully conveyed to you:
A census inquiry of the residents has been [ongoing] in Azerbaijan for some time now, and the census papers, which include questions [on matters] such as one’s religion, have been prepared. The authorities have emphasized that the questions should be answered truthfully and honestly. The Baha’is of Azerbaijan, who, based on their religious teachings, always strongly avoid recantation and concealment of beliefs, have given the correct answer to the relevant questions, and in response to the question of religion, have truthfully introduced themselves as Baha’is. Sadly however, contrary to all moral standards and humanitarian principles, and despite the government’s emphasis and instructions that the questions must be answered correctly and devoid of false [claims], under the column for religion, the census agents have listed the religion of Baha’is as Islam. They have ignored their legal objections, and because the Baha’is refused to sign the bottom of the form, the census agents either sign the papers themselves or deliver the papers to the Census Office without signature.
This action is truly astonishing and in conflict with all the principles and standards of democracy and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations, which the government of Iran has signed and ratified, and [it has] confirmed the freedom of belief and conscience in Iran. In addition, as long as the government intends to prepare these records to collect accurate information about the situation of the people of Iran, including their religion, such behaviour by the census agents will be an unintentional violation of that intent, because a large number of Iranian [citizens] who are Baha’is are counted as Muslims against their will, despite intense protests; thus, the truth of the matter has now been concealed from the esteemed officials. Obviously, this practice will also be contested and criticized by scholars and historians in the future, and this behaviour of fanatical agents will be condemned in the face of the history of civilization.
Therefore, we ask that esteemed official to issue, at your discretion, explicit and definitive orders to the general directorate of the census to have the census agents abandon this undesirable method, which includes the inspection of beliefs and denial of liberty and conscience, as well as implementation of principles of inquisition; not to impede the freedom of belief and conscience of a large number of the country’s sincere subjects; and to let the Baha’is identify themselves as Baha’is in full sincerity when faced with the question of religion, so that the purpose of the government is achieved, and also the principles of democracy and freedom are not harmed.
With utmost respect,
Chairperson of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran, Shoa Alaei
Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran, Ali-Akbar Foroutan