A German official has urged Iran to recognize the Baha’i as a religious community and for the rights of religious and ideological minorities to be respected.
German Federal Government Commissioner for Religious Freedom. Markus Grübel told the Catholic News Agency (KNA) on Friday [Jan. 15] that Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and in particular the Baha’I should be able to live their faith freely in Iran.
While Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians enjoy recognition to an extent, Iran’s clerical regime regards the Baha’I as heretics and bans them from government work and even university education.
Grübel made the statement on World Religion Day, established in 1950 as a day of action by the Baha’I National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and celebrated on the third Sunday in January.
Human rights organizations and United Nations bodies have repeatedly urged Iran to respect religious freedom, singling out the Baha’i as the most persecuted community. Iran denies the accusations and insists these matters are its internal business.
Muslims who convert to other religions are also treated harshly. “The criminalization of conversion, which threatens the death penalty, must be abolished,” Grübel said. He added that the Baha’i are exposed to systematic persecution and are not allowed to practice their beliefs in public. Many have been arbitrarily arrested and some have been tortured since the 1979 when the Islamic Republic was established.