[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]
[Newspaper:] Neday-e Hagh
[Date:] 27 Azar 1336 [ 18 December 1957]
[Issue No.:] 13
Oh God! You Are A Witness! Can One Still Drink the Pepsi Cola With All These Conditions?
In the first year of the Pepsi Cola factory, less than five or six months had passed since its inception―and there was a time when people were just arguing and it had not yet been properly proven to the people that the Pepsi Cola factory belonged to the Baha’is―when we were sitting one day with the neighbour of my shop and we were talking about the fact that the owner of the Pepsi factory was a Muslim, and [speculating about] whether it was clean or not!
In the meantime, a passer-by who was walking slowly sat down in front of us, without saying a word. It was clear from his appearance that he was very anxious and distressed, as if he were hungry but ashamed to express it.
Little by little, he talked [about this and that] until it was noon. I and the owner of my neighbour’s shop, which sells vegetables, asked whether he had eaten lunch or not. He said he was hungry. I gave [him] some yogurt and bread. And as soon as he started eating, I started talking little by little to find out why this person was so upset. He later said, “Sir, the truth of my story is that my wife and five children are hungry in my house. I am from Sangsar. For several years I worked there with Baha’is as a shepherd and a farmer and I married a woman from them who had converted to Islam. [Then] there was a dispute between yours truly and the master.
“I came to Tehran. Since most of the workers at the Pepsi Cola factory are from [the group of Baha’is] and from Sangsar, they introduced me there and I started working. I do not remember well, but I think they said they paid me six tomans a day. There were 10 or 12 Muslim workers, too. When people started struggling against Pepsi Cola, the company’s manager dismissed three or four Muslim workers a day, until it was my turn. Because I had worked for them for a few years, they did not know I was a Muslim, until one afternoon the manager called me…
(the narrator [interrupts to say,] ‘God is my witness, I heard this from that person’!)
…and said to me, ‘You know that most of our workers are aghnamollah [the sheep of God] and I have heard that you are Muslim.’ I said, ‘Yes, sir.’ He said, ‘If you want to continue your work, you should become one of us; otherwise we do not need workers.’ I was surprised, and since I was new in town and had a family, I decided outwardly to [pretend to become] one of them and see what happened. The manager told me, ‘If you accept our religion then you should repeat whatever I tell you.’”
My neighbour and I observed that tears were flowing from that person’s eyes and he could not talk anymore. We asked him insistently to tell us more. [He said:] “Sir. The manager of the factory cursed and insulted me and our great religious men with nonsensical words that were worthy of themselves, their religion and their personalities.”
My neighbour and I started crying involuntarily. And God knows that now that I am writing this letter, two years have passed since that incident, and [when I recall] that day my tears are flowing from my eyes. Should I dare to explain and say that these insults were addressed to great men of our religion, every Muslim, even the most insensitive ones who do not obey the teachings, and are Muslim only in name, cannot bear to hear them. God, I swear to Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, that I hope you [will] close the door to this dirty nest soon.
He told me later, “I returned from there on the same day and told God that I would rather that am happy that my children die of hunger in front of my eyes than repeat these non-Muslim’s insults. Oh God, make my life, the life of my wife and my children sacrifices for the names of those great men that this person asks me to insult.”
Mohammad-Ebrahim Shahrabi Araki