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


[Newspaper:] Canberra Times

[Date:] Wednesday, 24 September 1980


Jews, Baha'is facing executions

Religious minorities persecuted In Iran

Crusade to purify nation of non-Islamic influence

From Charles Hanley, in New York


Militant Iranian Moslems have executed leaders of the Baha'i religion, intimidated Iranian Jews and jailed Christian missionaries in what some international religious observers describe as a crusade to purify the country of non-Islamic influences.

Sources in the Roman Catholic Church and the Baha'i community – an outgrowth of Islam – say the campaign may be stepped up now that Moslem fundamentalist Mr Mohammad Ali Rajai, has been chosen as Iran's Prime Minister.

Iran's revolutionaries say those executed or imprisoned were spies for Israel, the United States or Britain, but the evidence presented in the Iranian news media appears weak: in one case a 20-year-old letter asking that a congregation pray for the American President, in another receipt for a donation to a religious shrine in Israel.

Outsiders who have appealed for an end to what they see as religious persecution in Iran say they have been told by some Iranian leaders that those responsible are revolutionary zealots beyond their control.

Efforts by the Associated Press to obtain specific comment from Iranian officials proved fruitless.

Anglican clerics have been arrested, Catholic priests and nuns expelled, and their schools shut down, and a half-dozen Jews shot by firing squads. But the Baha'is have been most affected.

Numbering 500, 0000, they are the largest religious minority in Iran, adherents of a one-world, modernist belief embracing many traditions. They are condemned as heretical by Iran's dominant Shi'ite Moslems.

A United Nations human-rights sub-commission adopted last week a resolution expressing profound concern for the safety of Baha'is in Iran. The panel acted two days after seven leaders of the Baha’i community in the central Iranian town of Yazd were executed.

In July, a firing squad shot two leading Baha'is in Tabriz, in north-west Iran. Baha'is sources said four other believers had been executed in Iran in previous months, and perhaps as many as five were killed in other ways.

Baha'i officials outside Iran said Teheran authorities on August 21 arrested all nine members of the council that leads the large Baha'i community in the Iranian capital.

The revolutionaries also have seized Baha'i religious centres, and Baha'i sources say Baha'i-owned companies have been confiscated, and an estimated 70 Baha'is imprisoned.

The Canadian Baha'i leader, Mr Douglas Martin, said Moslem fanatics were carrying out a systematic attack on the Baha'is.

"We fear that once they have destroyed the economic life of the community, terrorised it and executed the leadership, the next step will be to force the rest of the Baha'is to recant", he said.

This may already have begun. A Teheran newspaper reported that 50 Baha'is dismissed by the Tabriz Department of Education would be rehired only if they converted to Islam.

The Iranian media said one of the alleged crimes of the two men executed in Tabriz was running Baha'i centres. They also were accused of giving financial aid to Israel and spreading prostitution.

The Israel-related charges stem from a historical accident, the Baha'is say. Because the founder of the religion, Bahaullah, was exiled and died in Palestine in 1892, the headquarters of their religion are there, in modern-day Haifa, Israel.

In the Tabriz case, the revolutionary court produced a receipt for a donation to the Haifa Shrine as evidence of espionage for Israel

The Baha'is say the prostitution charge is based on the Shi'ites' belief that the Baha'i practices of mixing the sexes at gatherings and encouraging women not to wear the Moslem veil are immoral.

Mr Martin said the Prime Minister, Mr Rajai, was a member of the Society for the Propagation of Islam, a fundamentalist group that led past anti-Baha'i campaigns. …
















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