[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:] HRANA - Human Rights Activists News Agency

[Date:] 14 Mordad 1389 [5 August 2010]


HRANA News Agency: An Open Letter from Houshang Fanaian, a Baha’i Citizen, to the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

HRANA News Agency – In an open letter to the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Houshang Fanaian, a Baha’i citizen living in Amol, Mazandaran, has called for an end to the persecution of Baha’i citizens in Iran.

The text of this open letter provided to HRANA News Agency is as follows:

“Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will ‘all’ return.”[1]

His Honour Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

Esteemed Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

I am Houshang Fanaian, son of Rowshan-Agha, a resident of Amol. On 12 Mordad [3 August], the respected Intelligence brothers, without a court order, but by presenting a handwritten letter and a post office stamp, entered my father’s house and workshop. They took away all the religious books, CDs, computer cases, and religious photographs. In the meantime, I informed them, “According to the law, you have no right to take anything without a warrant.” They said, “We will take whatever we want.”

Mr. Khamenei, you are the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and I am also an Iranian citizen. Should I expect my arrest or imprisonment as the consequence of writing this letter, or will you consider my writing as a citizen and order the investigation of the transgressing agents?

Mr. Khamenei, I am not talking here about a few CDs or books or a few computer cases that have been stolen, I am talking about defending the Baha’i community in Iran, of which I am a member.

Honourable Ayatollah, I must offer my condolences to the Messenger of God―may my soul be a sacrifice for Him―that in the Islamic country, in the name of the Messenger of God, cemeteries have been [demolished and] levelled to the ground; in the name of the Imams, hundreds of houses have been destroyed over thirty years, and also, some few weeks ago, 50 houses were demolished and levelled with a bulldozer by powerful plain clothes personnel in Ivel, Mazandaran.

You are the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and I an Iranian Baha’i citizen. I [ask] you, honourable ayatollah, to order an end to the oppression created in your name and in the name of the Shia religion, in the name of Islam, which seeks kindness, amity, empathy, love and unity and oneness. My heart feels that you believe in kindness, amity and respect for the rights of minorities; let this crystallized feeling become practical.

Personally, I still do not believe that you agree with the harassment and slander against the honourable people of Iran, and do not think that, with this Islamic understanding and insight, you will allow women and children to become wanderers from their homes and abodes in Ivel and other villages and cities, because I sincerely believe that in Islam, there are instructions for love, kindness, humanity and protection of sanctities, and no violence against the people who want the progress and development of dear Iran. Let this be put into action and not end in words.

Mr. Khamenei, I have been subjected to oppression for many years, and the Ministry of Intelligence office is fully aware of it, but when I observe Your Honour’s silence on the persecution of the oppressed and the Iranian Baha’i citizens, my whole being becomes filled with sadness. Can it be imagined that a high-ranking cleric is pleased with imprisonments, torments, and harassment of hundreds of thousands of [members of] religious minorities?

I have always believed that the unruly agents and the pressure groups who are involved in skirmishes within the regime are killing [members of] the Baha’i community like [Persian idiom][2].

At this moment, I swear to God that I wish you would order that I be executed or shot by firing squad, and that, in this way, the Baha’i community of Iran would be freed from this oppression, and if you feel that by killing one person, your unruly plain clothes agents and Intelligence forces will not feel satisfied, then order [them] to cut me into pieces or set me on fire in Amol City Square, in the name of Baha’i, and in the Islamic government do not allow lies, slander and defamation to become their way of life; otherwise, at this moment, I am ready, if they want to slaughter me in the name of Baha’i wherever you see fit, but let this oppression end forever.

Mr. Khamenei, the members of the Baha’i community of Iran have been persecuted and tortured for many years; unfortunately, this has been done in the name of Islam.

In my house, the esteemed Intelligence agent mentioned the accusations against Baha’i women and girls. He said, “You are a Baha’i, we are Muslims, and we cannot tolerate seeing anyone next to us who is different from Islam.”

“Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will ‘all’ return.”

I offer my condolences to you that in an Islamic country, in the name of Islam and in the name of the Messenger of God and of the Imams, they accuse the innocent and honourable women and girls of Iran of being unchaste and unclean, and I see Fatimah al-Zahra―may my soul be a sacrifice for her meekness―in tears. At the time of the Messenger of God, the polytheists and infidels did not make such an accusation against the idolatrous Arab women.

In other countries, should Muslims, who comprise a religious minority, be religiously insulted, falsely accused and slandered because they are a minority, who believe in a Prophet that the majority of the people of that country do not accept?

I offer my condolences to our Lord Ali that there remains no name of Ali’s justice towards the Baha’is, and that the esteemed Intelligence agent unashamedly claims, “I do whatever I want.”

I offer my condolences to Malik al-Ashtar that the anonymous soldiers of the Ministry of Intelligence office, instead of giving their blood to protect the country, are discrediting the country for their own purposes.

Honourable Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of the revered land of Iran, when this letter reaches you (if it reaches you), I do not know in which prison and under what conditions I might be. It will be an honour for me even if, with my testimony, the words of the Baha’i community in Iran reach you and other enlightened, honourable and respected officials.

Mr. Khamenei, should the chastity and purity of the women and girls of the world, even if they are infidels or polytheists, be brought into question because their religion and belief is different from your religion?

Honourable Ayatollah, “Let us die once and weep once.” Once and for all, have the courage and valour to say that Baha’is and other religious minorities are all human beings and have citizenship rights; or if you see it necessary, give permission to a few Muslim scholars to have a debate with a few knowledgeable Baha’is in the Radio and Television Organization to prove that Baha’is are also human beings and have citizenship rights. If these scholars convince the people that the Baha’is or other religious minorities should not have citizenship rights because of differences of belief, and the people accept it, then the people themselves will distance themselves from the Baha’is and other minorities and those minorities will no longer need to be persecuted, and there will be no need for persecution, imprisonment, confiscation of property, destruction of homes, expulsion from university, and the creation of economic, social, cultural and legal pressures.

Honourable Ayatollah, for once in an Islamic country, come and order that no media outlet has the right to slander or defame any person or community, and if slander, defamation or lies are expressed, that person or community has the right to respond, and their response will be published.

Esteemed Ayatollah, I must offer many condolences to you that in the Islamic country, the unofficial minorities do not have the right to continue their studies at universities, and I know that you are strongly opposed to this. Maybe your silence is due to the interest and political expediency of anti-religious politicians, but is not this silence at the cost of religion, rights and justice, that will weigh on your shoulders, and to which you must answer to the Messenger of God in the Kingdom?

Honourable Ayatollah, you are a Marja’-i-Taqlid[3] and a respected and informed cleric; do you religiously, legally and morally allow oppression in the name of Islam and in the name of spirituality and in the name of the Shia government of Ali to those who have a different belief from you?

If you know the truth is with you then there is no need for imprisonment and pressure, as the path to discourse is a two-way dialogue.

Honourable Ayatollah, know that the Baha’i community does not interfere in politics, is not violent and does not carry weapons, is not involved in corruption, immorality and uncleanliness, and does not pursue anything and desires nothing other than the pride and prosperity of dear Iran.

If you are being told otherwise, let a few real Baha’is (not those made up and prepared by the Intelligence service) come to you, and you judge the truth after hearing what both sides have to say.

Mr. Khamenei, it is said that the Baha’is are Israeli spies!

Then it is said that the Baha’is send money to Israel!

Honourable Ayatollah, a spy should be paid a wage, not spy and also have to pay!

Honourable Ayatollah, the honourable Mecca is in a Sunni Wahhabi government today. Are Shias, because of their love for their religious sites in Saudi Arabia, spies for the Saudi government?

Dear Mr. Khamenei, Karbala in Iraq is the burial place of the Prince of Martyrs―may my soul be sacrificed for his dust. Were the Shias of the world, during the time of Saddam, all spies for Saddam, who were giving their all for his Shrine?

Honourable Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, I am an Iranian citizen and a Baha’i. I personally am writing this letter to you and take full responsibility, and, as far as I know, by law, it is not a crime to write a letter to the leader of a country. It is not a disturbance to national security; it is not propaganda against the regime, but it signifies freedom and it is permissible for an Iranian citizen, even if he is a Baha’i, to share his suffering and oppression with the leader of his country.

You can ask me why I did not send this letter directly to you, but instead published it on the Internet. I shall answer that tens of thousands of letters have been sent [to you] over the last thirty years and there has been no response, but my heart testifies that maybe this time, God willing, you also want to have a humane and two-way correspondence with an Iranian citizen, even though he is from an unofficial minority.

You may feel that I am a misguided person and need guidance.

For my guidance there is no need for prison.

For my guidance there is no need to expel my children from university.

For my guidance there is no need to attack and plunder my house.

If the truth is with you, then write it down and I will answer you as well as my knowledge permits.

If you deem it convenient, I am ready to debate with you personally on the Radio and Television Organization.

In conclusion, I thank you and the Security and Intelligence organizations for allowing this two-way humanitarian correspondence to begin in the future.

And instead of imprisonment and midnight interrogations and house raids, I am waiting for a two-way dialogue between two Iranian citizens with two different beliefs.

Baha’i Iranian citizen

Houshang Fanaian

13 Mordad 1389 [4 August 2010]


[1] [Quran 2:156] https://quran.com/2

[2] [The original text is “ مرغ عروسی و عزا”]

[3] [Marja’-i-Taqlid:  Religious Jurisprudence Authority]