#StopHatePropaganda: Baha’i Citizens’ Call for an End to Hatred

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Source: www.radiozamaneh.com

Translation by Iran Press Watch

A hate campaign against Baha’is, by the Islamic Republic of Iran government officials, and encouragement of individuals and institutions that fuel this campaign, has led to a wide range of discrimination, injustice, non-recognition of their citizenship, and violations of the rights of Baha’i citizens of Iran.

On Thursday, July 15, 2021, Baha’i citizens around the world launched a widespread Twitter campaign calling for an end to the hateful propaganda of the Islamic Republic of Iran against Baha’i citizens.  Baha’is in Iran and social media users are protesting, calling for a stop to the widespread wave of hatred in Iran against Baha’is, using the hashtags #ایران_بدون_نفرت (#Iran_without_hate) Iran and #StopHatePropaganda.

For past 42 years, the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran has used various forums, from radio and television to other media outlets and pulpits of mosques, etc., to try to distort the public opinion in the socio-political sphere against the Baha’is.

This hate campaign against Baha’is by the government officials, and encouragement of individuals and institutions that fuel this campaign, has led to a wide range of discrimination, injustice, non-recognition of their citizenship, and violations of the rights of Baha’is.

In the most extreme cases, this anti-Baha’i campaign has led to executions by the officials or the murder of Baha’is by ordinary citizens.

Simin Fahandejh, representative of the Baha’i International Community in Geneva, released a film by Mohsen Ghara-ati, a cleric close to the Iranian government who encourages the killing of Baha’is.

“Which ‘religious leader’ calls on people to kill?”, she inquired. “Hatred is prohibited not only under international laws but is also wrong based on healthy human interaction. We seek an Iran without hatred.”

“My sister was expelled from school three times during her school days for being a Baha’i. She returned home three times without being allowed to return to school. All this happened just 19 days after the start of the school year.”, wrote Shadi Beizai, a writer and poetess, about her experience of animosity towards Baha’is in Iran.

Reza Akvaanian, a Human rights activist, exhibiting a video of Payam Vali, wrote:

“Payam Vali, an Iranian Baha’i, has released this video and has called for an end to hatred against Baha’is. Afshin Vali, his elder brother, was a victim of hatred in 1990 when he was only 12 years old, and his body was dumped in a subterranean well.”

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran only recognizes four religions. Islam, According to Article 12, is the only official religion in Iran and the (Twelve Imam) Shiites is the only legitimate branch and that Islam is immutable.  The four main Sunni branches are mentioned and allowed to practice their traditions. Article 13 of the Constitution states that Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are recognized religious minorities who are allowed to perform their religious duties and rituals in accordance with the law.  While these recognized religions are alloted civil and political rights in Constitution, in practice the rights of followers of other than Shi’ite Islam do experience violations of their rights.

Other religions such as Baha’i, Babi, Mandaean (Sabi), Yaresan, Yazidi, Sikh, Raelian in Iran are not recognized and are deprived of citizenship and legal rights.

Ahmed Shaheed, former rapporteur on UN rights in Iran, wrote: “We should never ignore hatred against anyone. I urge Government of Iran to stop hate-spreading campaign against the Baha’is.”

Iranian actress Shabnam Tolouei wrote on Twitter about her experience of hate against Baha’is during her school days: “I was 11 years old when I inquired about the rights of minority (in classroom). That was the first time I was reported suspicious and expelled. Twenty-two years later, a man told me, ‘You are trained to spy for Israel from your childhood. We will make it difficult for you to live here.’ Children are still being expelled (from schools) and adults are not allowed to work.”

“An Iran without hatred means an Iran for all Iranians. “It means the cohabitation of all ethnic groups and followers of religions and sects and dissidents.”, wrote Mustafa Daneshjoo, a lawyer and one of the Gonabadi dervishes who has a history of imprisonment and discrimination because of his religious beliefs, in support of the Baha’is.

Masih Alinejad, a journalist and women’s rights activist, also published a photo of Shahrzad Nazifi, a Baha’i and a champion of the Iranian women’s motocross and wrote: “Imagine! At the height of your career, you were imprisoned because of your belief. Meet Shahrzad Nazifi, the champion of Iranian motocross. The Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced her to eight years in prison for acting against national security, but in reality, because of her belief in the Baha’i Faith.”

The Baha’i Faith in Iran is one of the religious minorities most frequently violated and repressed by both the government and society. From the very beginning of the Islamic Revolution, the Baha’is were among the first groups to be severely repressed. Not only are Baha’is not recognized in Iran, but they are also barred from religious services, citizenship rights, the right to study, and employment in government offices.

Many members of the Baha’i community have been executed in Iran over the past four decades, some have been forcibly abducted by the government (agents), and many Baha’is have been detained for various reasons and sentenced to harsh prison terms on bogus charges of agents of hostile countries, infidelity, action against national security. In many cases, their estates and belongings are confiscated by the government.

Kambiz Ghafouri, a journalist, wrote in support of the Baha’is: “Let us not repeat the oppression that has been inflicted on large groups of Iranians in recent decades because of their beliefs and faith. “All citizens have equal rights, and no one has more right than another(!).”

Joining the campaign, American actor Penn Badgley released a video of himself writing:

“Today I joined the campaign against hatred with the support of people all around the world. Members of the Baha’i faith in Iran are targeted by hate propaganda through their own state-run media. Stop spreading hatred.”

Ammar Maleki, a university professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, published a photo of his father Mohammad Maleki and Mohammad Nourizad and wrote:

“Seven years ago, Mohammad Maleki and Mohammad Nourizad met with a group of deprived Baha’i youth, knelt down humbly, and said that they had come to” “On behalf of humanitarians, altruists, noblemen, atheists and good-natured Iranians,” apologize for the oppression that is being inflicted on them.”

Hate mongering against the Baha’is is not limited to the state media, but also the leaders and officials of the Islamic Republic who have repeatedly expressed hatred against the Baha’is in various comments, describing them as ” untouchable” and “Zionist agents.”

On page 237 of the third volume of Khomeini’s book, “Sahife”, the founder of the Islamic Revolution described Baha’i as follows:

“The followers of this clan are heretics, infidels and impure, and marriage with them is prohibited and they should not enter any Muslim baths.”

Ali Khamenei, the current leader of the Islamic Republic, has a similar view of the Baha’is, calling them “untouchable ” and “misguided.”

In the question -and-answer section of the Supreme Leader’s website, his views on the Baha’is are expressed as follows:

“All followers of the misguided Baha’i sect are condemned to impurity, and if they touch anything, it is obligatory to observe the purification of the objects touched. However, the treatment of Baha’i students by principals, teachers, and educators must be in accordance with Islamic law and ethics. “All believers must confront the deceits and perversion of the misguided Baha’i sect and prevent others from diverting and joining it.”

The harsh and hostile stance of the leaders of the Islamic Republic against the Baha’is in Iran has led to opportunities for the security forces and the judicial officials to further repress the Baha’is.

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