[TRANSCRIPT OF ORIGINAL NEWS ARTICLE IN ENGLISH]

 

 

[The excerpt below is from the section of the article that pertains to the Baha'i Faith]

 

[Newspaper:] Sydney Morning Herald

[Date:] Wednesday, 18 November 1981

 

Iranian Baha'is endure campaign of hate

By Alan Gill

 

It has been generally assumed that the victims of the violence and oppression by the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini were secular opponents – leftist students, communists, supporters of the deceased Shah and moderates loyal to the former President Bani Sadr.

However, there is now emerging from this Moslem fundamentalist source a wave of religious persecution. It is directed against Christians, Jews and Baha'is – Iran's largest religious minority.

Both the beliefs and origins of the Baha'i faith conflict with the tenets of Islam – a major part of the problem.

Baha'is believe in the "oneness of mankind", the independent investigation of truth, in the common foundation of all religions, the essential harmony of science and religion, the complete equality of men and women, the elimination of prejudice of all kinds, in universal compulsory education, in spiritual solutions to political economic and social problems, in a universal auxiliary language, and in the concept of universal peace.

In September, the House of Representatives in Canberra called upon the Iranian Government to end persecution and restore the rights of followers of the Baha'i faith in that country.

In a unanimous resolution the House of Representatives also expressed its "grave concern" over the persecutions, and noted "with alarm and abhorrence the continuing executions of Iranian Baha'is purely on the grounds of their religious faith."

There are – or were – about 400,000 Baha'is in Iran.

A report submitted to Amnesty International complains of arrests, torture, persecution and murder, organized by, or with the connivance of, the Iranian Revolutionary Government.

At present all nine members of the Baha'i National Council are either dead or in prison.

All Baha'is holding positions in the public service have been dismissed. A petition from certain Baha'i women, protesting at this situation, drew the following response:

"In accordance with the instructions of the Attorney-General, the Baha'is are not entitled to receive anything, therefore we are not replying to your petition."

Even ordinary trade and commerce is made difficult. A provincial Governor wrote in a circular letter: "Since transactions with the false Baha'i organization is against the laws of Islam, the Department of Finance is instructed to refuse any vouchers for such transactions…anyone who does not observe this ruling will be severely punished."

The Pacific Conference of Churches has written to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dr Waldheim, condemning the alleged injustices as "unworthy of the people of Iran, and of our great sister religion, Islam."

Adverse publicity seems to be having little effect on the Iranian Government.

Fairly typical is the following telex, received at the Baha'i Sydney headquarters three weeks ago.

PERSECUTION IRAN ENTERING NEW PHASE: IN YAZD GOVERNMENT FROZEN ALL ASSETS 117 BELIEVERS. HEADS OF 160 BAHA'I FAMILIES SUMMONED ON LOCAL RADIO TO REPORT WITHIN ONE WEEK TO REVOLUTIONARY AUTHORITIES. ANY NAMED PERSON WHO FAILS TO PRESENT HIMSELF WILL BE ARRESTED. AMONG NAMES ON RADIO ARE FEW WHO PASSED AWAY, CONFIRMING DETERMINATION AUTHORITIES PERSECUTE BAHA'I IS PURELY FOR THEIR BELIEF, NOT BECAUSE OF ANY ALLEGED CRIMES.

There are about 200 Iranian Baha'i families in the greater Sydney area. Most are well educated, professional people.

Numerically, they form about 10 per cent of the Baha'i population of NSW.

The following are case histories:

A teenager, six months in Australia, has not heard from her parents in Tehran since her arrival here six months ago. She believes they are dead.

A woman in her 20, who came to Australia via Britain, in February, heard last week that her parents' home and business had been burnt down. Her parents and other relatives are hiding in caves.

A man in his 40, originally from Isfahan, one year in Australia, has heard that his father, aged 75, has been imprisoned. Crime unknown.

A cousin of the same man, now living in the western suburbs, heard two weeks ago that his two brothers and an aunt were shot by a firing squad several months after they were imprisoned, and their home and business confiscated.

The persecution of religious minorities in Iran is not confined to Baha'is. …

The major figures of the Baha'i faith, including the founder, Siyyi Ali Muhammed (known as the Bab) were originally Moslems.

This has caused Islamic leaders and governments to regard them as heretics, as deviants from the true religion, and to subject Baha'is to an unusual degree of persecution.

In fairness, it should be stated that antipathy towards the Baha'is lies deep in the socio-psychological structure of Persian society and goes back to 1844, when a young merchant of Shiraz (the Bab) rejected the literal interpretation of the Koran and held that soon he whom God shall make manifest would appear on earth to bring a new law and to inaugurate a new era in the history of mankind.

Accused of heresy, the Bab was imprisoned and finally executed in 1850.

This did not stop the spread of the Bab's teachings, nor did it stop the resistance of his disciples.

There ensued a campaign of extermination in which some 20,000 Babis, as they were then called, were killed.

Thirteen years after the martyrdom of the Bab one of his leading disciples who had been exiled by the Persian Government to Bagdad proclaimed himself to be the one whose advent the Bab had prophesied.

He became known as Bahaullah and is seen as the co-founder of the religion. Most of the Bab's followers accepted Bahaullah's claim and they became known thereafter as Baha'is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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