[PROVISIONAL TRANSLATION FROM Persian]
[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets.]
[Personal information has been redacted.]
[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha’i Faith]
[Adapted from website:] Ghandchi
[Date:] 16 Aban 1386 – 6 November 2007
Mr. Khatami, Give recognition to the Bahá’í Faith.
In the thick of threatening danger from the Islamic Republic, fighting America and Israel, and on the verge of parliamentary elections, various civil and political forces have begun new activities in Iran, which is a cause of delight. Meanwhile, not only the religious reformers but also a number of other groups have [appointed] the previous president, Hujjatul-Islam Khatami, as their spokesperson.
My question from Mr. Khatami is whether or not he would be prepared, today, while he has no official position, to do something so that the Baha’i Faith is given recognition by the Islamic Republic. Could he at least say what his own opinion is in this regard?
I have written my thoughts about Mr. Khatami in the past and do not wish to repeat them here: http://www.ghandchi.com/411-FuturistRepublic.htm
Then why do I ask this question? Because for years, Mr. Khatami has been speaking about dialogue of civilizations, and one of the main religions of the world, which incidentally was born in Iran, not only is not recognised by the Islamic Republic of Iran but also, in the past 28 years, the believers of this religion have been subjected to every kind of persecution and harassment.
Bahá’ís cannot easily enter university. On various occasions, their properties have been confiscated, or it has become so dangerous that many of them, who had Muslim business partners, registered their properties under the names of their partners. Bahá’í cemeteries have been violated and their sacred places in Barforoush (modern Babol), which were considered important historical places, have been destroyed. Could any of these actions be called dialogue of civilizations?
What is the Islamic Republic’s response to the question, “Why is the Bahá’í Faith not recognised?” They say that as the Islamic Republic is based on the Quran, and the Bahá’ís, the Buddhists and the Hindus have not been mentioned in the Quran as followers of the Book, the Islamic Republic does not give them recognition. Even the Zoroastrian religion is hardly recognised, and, of course, on top of it all, atheists and agnostics are not recognised.
My question is, has the Shiite religion been mentioned in the Quran? If the criterion is being mentioned in the Quran, then according to Sunni followers in many Arabic countries, Shiites are not followers of the Book and are, in fact, blasphemers. It could, of course, be said that Shi’ism is part of Islam but [the] Bahá’í [Faith] is not. What difference does the name of a religion make? If the criterion of the government of the Islamic Republic is to be mentioned in the Quran, then Shi’ism has not been mentioned in it. Now, a Shiite country is accusing another religion of heresy, which, similar to Shi’ism, has come into existence after Islam, and after the Quran, and has not been mentioned in the Quran.
In my opinion, the Baha’i Faith is especially targeted with enmity because of a kind of jealousy, which appeared amongst Shiite religious scholars as a result of this division in Shi’ism. Today, when many people, including Mr. Khatami, are trying to resolve the differences between Shiite and Sunni, or between Islam and Christianity, why don’t they look inside their own home, Iran, and end these appalling prejudices towards our Bahá’í compatriots? Whatever the reason, and however bitter the division of the Bahá’ís from Shi’ism, many years have passed and it is better for the Shiites to come to terms with reality and end these hatreds.
Now that Mr. Khatami is again on the agenda in Iran, it would be better for him and others who wish to gain people’s votes, to answer these questions before being elected. Let it not be like the time before the election, when they uttered general and unspecific statements and then did not see themselves obliged to do any of them. From women to students, people of Iran have learnt to discuss specific programmes instead of general statements. Our political movement has gained the knowledge to express itself from the platform and to ask questions rather than being deceived by generalisations made by election candidates.
In the hope of the day when blind religious, ethnic and gender prejudices against any Iranian are abolished.
Sam Ghandchi, publisher and chief editor