[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets]

[Personal information has been redacted.]


The Difficult Task of Monitoring Constitutional Compliance[1]

Section 7, Minorities

[Page:] 597, 598


Regarding the rights of unofficial minorities

In the Name of God

Date: 14 Shahrivar 1377 [5 September 1998]

Number: 77-156


Hojjatol-Islam Mr. Khatami

Honourable President of the Islamic Republic of Iran


We convey that one of the problems that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been faced with for many years, and no major steps have thus far been taken to resolve it, is the matter of how to deal with the social rights of religious minorities, particularly the unofficial minorities, and especially the perverse Baha’i sect.  For the first time, in 1982 [2003-2004], the auxiliary committee for human rights, the full name of which is the Auxiliary Committee to Protect Minorities and Prevent Discrimination[2] Against Them, issued a resolution regarding the treatment of this sect that was essentially against the Islamic Republic, and subsequently in 1984 [2005-2006], the Human Rights Commission acted to pass a resolution within which the human rights situation in Iran was placed under observation by the United Nations, and a special rapporteur was appointed to investigate the situation and report to the Human Rights Commission and the United Nations General Assembly—a situation which continues to this day.

The members of the aforementioned sect, in addition to appealing to international bodies, have also complained to various internal authorities, including the Islamic Human Rights Commission, and have recently begun to send numerous complaints to the Committee for Investigation and Oversight of Enforcement of the Constitution.  And some of them—in reliance upon your highness’s statements regarding the civil society and the need to uphold the civil rights of all people, and in particular your statements on how, with the Islamic government, even non-Muslims have rights and dignity—have asked that attention be paid to their social rights.  They complain about their expulsion from employment in [all] departments, deprivation of and being cut off from receiving their pensions, inability to obtain work permits to engage in various trades, being deprived of entering universities, problems enrolling their children in schools, numerous difficulties related to obtaining a passport and permission to travel abroad, and so on.  They also present court orders that show they have been deprived of their rights based on their membership in this sect, such as confiscation of property, or, occasionally, even execution.  I will expand further on this matter and present the facts if I have the opportunity to meet you in person.

All of these events are happening while, according to Article 14 of the Constitution, the Islamic Republic of Iran must act with exemplary manners and Islamic fairness and justice toward non-Muslims and uphold their human rights.  His Holiness, Imam Khomeini, may his soul rest in God’s Paradise, also in response to a question by the Supreme Judicial Council regarding the [rights of] non-believers [non-Muslims] who are [known as] “People of the Book”[3] and those non-believers without a [divine] book, replied as follows: “The aforementioned non-believers are under the protection of Islam and the laws of Islam are in effect for them as they are for the Muslims; they are Mahqounu’d-Dam[4], and their [lives and] property must be respected.”

Investigating all aspects of the legal rights and criminal laws regarding these sects and finding a Sharia [religious] solution to them is a difficult task to achieve and impossible to obtain. However, one can theoretically assume that all people and citizens of Iran, including the unofficial minorities, who are, in any case, among the citizenry, and perform the [citizen’s] responsibilities and obey laws and ordinances of the government, should be given the social rights that belong to each citizen—namely, citizenship rights.  And, at least in the first instance, a solution must be found in such areas as getting a passport, leaving the country, [obtaining] permission to work in private jobs, and similar areas, without regard to belief or religion.  It has been a long time since this issue was first raised, and I believe that the matter has been discussed in some of the committees of the Supreme Council for National Security; however, thus far, the desired result has not been obtained.  It is expected, in light of interesting statements you have made on various occasions regarding human rights, and that you naturally intend to make at the upcoming meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, that your highness will take steps to solve this problem.  My aim in taking your time has been to give you a general idea of the topic and present the main issue.  There are additional explanations and details about this matter, which I prefer to present to you in person.


Hosein Mehrpour

[Legal counsel] for the president and head of investigation and oversight of enforcement of the Constitution




[1] From a book: The Difficult Task of Monitoring Constitutional Compliance- Vazifeh Doshvar-e Nezarat bar Ejraeh Ghanoon-e Asasee 1376 – 1384 (1997-2006). Dr. Hosein Mehrpour, Tehran, Saales Publication, 1384 (2005)

[2] [Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination]

[3] [People of the Book/Scripture (Ahl al-Kitāb) is an Islamic term referring to Jews, Christians, and Sabians and sometimes applied to members of other religions such as Zoroastrians]

[4] [Mahqounu’d-Dam:  Protected, one whose life and safety is protected by the law; non-Muslims enjoying Muslim protection]