THE WASHINGTON TIMES

FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 1984

PROTESTING IRAN’S EXTERMINATION OF BAHA’IS

Muhammad Tahir’s May 21 letter, “Excluding Baha’is in Iran,” attempts to legitimize Iran’s persecution of Baha’is by repeating tired charges long discredited by informed observers. The day following his letter, for example, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution condemning Iran for its brutal and unjustifiable efforts to exterminate the Baha’is. Rep. John E. Porter explained that the Baha’i religion incorporates “the essential tencts of all organized religions and emphasizes the unity of mankind, world peace, world order, the social equality of all people, pacifism, and tolerance.” Rep. James Leach explained that the “acts of inhumanity and brutality that have been heaped upon members of a peaceful religion are incomprehensible to civilized humanity,” and are reminiscent of Germany under Hitler.

Iran’s religious genocide is often disguised with spurious charges against the Baha’is, who are then given the choice of being spared execution, and having all charges dropped, if they recant their faith. Iran’s authorities know that contrary to the charges, Iran’s Baha’is are loyal, peaceful, and wish only to be permitted to worship in freedom. Baha’is are sustained through this suffering by our belief in God and our belief that – in the words of a Baha’i prayer- the people of all faiths will “let the religions agree… so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home.”

Is Muhammad Tahir for real? After calling Iran’s persecution of the Baha’is “alleged,” he proceeds to explain why they deserve to be persecuted: their religion is “unlike the long established religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam”. One then would suppose that the Islamic Republic of Iran would be better disposed towards these “long established” faiths. Now we do not expect Mr. Tahir to take seriously the harmless minority of Episcopalians in Iran, but they too have been persecuted. At least one priest has been martyred; the bishop is in exile, churches closed, schools and hospitals confiscated. So much for Iranian regard for the “long established” religions.

It is not simple Baha’ism that incurs the vicious hostility of these unenlightened successors of the Shah, but the fact that they are reactionary fanatics who neither respect the rights of other faiths nor the manner of civilized peoples. For Muhammad Tahir’s information, though Judeo-Christian tradition may have influenced the writers of the Constitution, the laws of the land are certainly not based on the revealed law of God nor on the Bible. As explained by one of its authors, Thomas Jefferson, they are based on the separation of church and state. Though not a Baha’i, I cannot subscribe to the genocidal killings of Baha’is, or Jews. I would also like to suggest to Mr. Tahir that not all Moslems believe in or approve of the establishment of a theocratic state (and justifiably so, as the turn of events has ample shown, “By their works ye shall know them”).

Presently in Iran, over 75 percent of the religious and fully 90 percent of the secular people are opposed to the regime. I, myself a former Moslem, have, after the inhuman excesses of the ayatollahs, reverted back to Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Iran. Only in this noble religion can I seek out my heritage, cultures, music, and art- most of which has been banned by the fundamentalist ayatollahs.