Interview with Baha’i Shopkeeper About Forced Closure of Her Store

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Source: Manoto TV

Translation by Iran Press Watch

Manoto TV Journalist: This is a store belonging to a Baha’i citizen in Sari. His store has been sealed because he closed it on his religious holiday, but now he is forced to do his business on the corner of the same street. You can see what condition he is in. This report was prepared for Manoto TV.

Baha’i Shopkeeper: As Baha’is, we abstain from work nine days a year for our religious holidays. November second was one of these holidays, and our store was closed. We were at home when one of our neighbors called and said: “Three or four people came, sealed your store and left.” By that evening, we realized that more than 100 Baha’i-owned stores across the city and throughout the province had been sealed. It is now close to the new year. What would you tell your family if you were in our position? More than one hundred families are now facing hardship. We have not committed a crime. We face so much pressure and persecution solely because of our beliefs. I ask those dear respectable officials who hear our voices to help us and break the seals on our stores.

Masih Alinejad: In Mazandaran Province, have officials responded to you? I want to know where the Baha’i citizens, and basically you have gone, and followed up, after your stores were sealed.

Baha’i Shopkeeper: We went to the Office of Public Places, the Trade Union, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Provincial Governor’s Office, the Justice Administration, the Revolutionary Guard headquarters, the Governor’s Office, the Basij [Mobilization] Trade Union, the City Council, the Supreme Leader’s representative, the Inspector’s Office for Businesses, our Parliament Representative’s office, the police and any related office in the province, but we did not hear any convincing response from any of them. We also faced very harsh and demeaning reactions from officials in many places, who indicated that they do not even consider us to be Iranian citizens. They told us that we have not followed the laws of the Islamic Republic, and that we intend to make propaganda for Baha’ism by closing our stores. It has been nearly 100 days since our stores were sealed, and it is a question everyone asks: “Why are your stores closed?” I would like to ask the respectable officials. Who is making propaganda: you or us?

Masih Alinejad: It appears that your attempts to find redress have had no results. If right now, you thought that officials, the public or anyone could hear you, what would you like to tell them? What is your request?

Baha’i Shopkeeper: I want to tell my compatriots that we live in a Muslim country, but we are facing all sorts of harassment and discrimination. Why should my child be expelled from university? Why can’t he have a job he deserves? Why should my daily bread be cut off? I ask the officials: where in Islam, in the Quran, in the Constitution has is it said that you should behave like this? It makes no difference. Regardless of whether one is a Muslim, a Christian or an atheist, we are all human beings. My family and I have been pleading from the bottom of our hearts for many years, and no one has paid attention. However, in the United States, the public, ranging from artists and athletes to ordinary individuals, are defending the rights of Iranians. Why is it that no one is paying attention to me, who live in Iran and have been deprived of so many things ‒ particularly in the country which is my place of birth?

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