Translation by Iran Press Watch
HRANA News Agency – a three-day poster design workshop has been held in Shiraz for the purpose of inciting hatred against Baha’is. This coincides with the beginning of another wave of security and judicial pressure on Baha’i citizens in different cities of Iran.
According to the HRANA News Agency, the news arm of the Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran, from December 15 – 17, 2021, the Visual Arts Festival (Moqaddas Nama) held a poster and caricature design workshop aimed at inciting hatred against the followers of the Bahai Faith. This workshop, organized by the Secretariat of Moghadas Nama and the Secretariat of the Revolution Poster and the Association of Designers of the Islamic Revolution (Beit,) specifically attacks the religious beliefs of the members of the Baha’i community through poster design and graphic works. This program is part of the Iranian government’s ongoing campaign against the Baha’i Community, which has routinely and systematically violated the citizenship and human rights of the Baha’s over the past four decades. Participants in the Anti-Baha’i poster workshop are offered millions in prizes.
Anti-Bahai measurements implemented by the Iranian Regime deprive Baha’s citizens of their basic human rights, leaving members of this community with no means to defend themselves through the official media of the country. Baha’i citizens are subject to imprisonment or under temporary detention, simply due to being a Bahai Faith and practicing their Faith.
Among those involved in organizing this anti-Baha’i workshop are Hojjatoleslam Amir Hossein Kamel Nawab (chairman of the policy council), Seyed Mohammad Reza Miri (secretary of the poster department), Mehdi Yeke Pesar (chairman of the jury), Mohammad Reza Doost Mohammadi, Seyed Mohammad Reza Miri, Alireza Khakpour and Seyed Mehdi Hosseini. The program website includes participation of the supreme leader in Medical School of the Shiraz University, Shiraz mayoral office and Fars Province Arts are also participants of this event.
Padideh Sabeti, a spokesperson for the Baha’i International Community in London, told HRANA: “How unfortunate that a cultural festival that should be an arena for displaying Iran’s lofty values and cultural achievements is being used by the Iranian government as an anti-Baha’i propaganda. The Baha’i community is recognized around the world as a community actively serving humanity. Over the years, the Iranian government has not provided a single piece of evidence for the accusations it has leveled against the Baha’is. Unfortunately, methodically spreading false information and hatred is one of the tools used by the Iranian government to discredit the Baha’i community. The Iranian government has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is committed to protecting its citizens from religious hatred. Instead, the government itself is inciting such hatred.”
She added: “Ultimately, these lies are nothing but the tale of the lying shepherd and will damage the reputation of the Islamic Republic itself, both in Iran and on the international stage. In our experience, a large number of our Iranian compatriots have always concluded through their fair and independent investigations that none of these allegations against the Baha’is are true and they express their love and support for the Baha’i community more than ever.”
As noted above, anti-Baha’i activities by government agencies is not a new experience for Baha’i citizens. Television has also been used through such programs as “Like the Moon” with Resalat Bouzari, ran on Channel 3 of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcast, to spread propaganda and incite hatred of Baha’i.
Incidentally, Bouzari, the host of “Like the Moon” program, caused large protests after he insulted a disabled guest on this program.
The animosity of security and government agencies towards Baha’i citizens is unprecedented. Among the measures taken is the dissemination of numerous anti-Baha’i books at Tehran book fairs. In recent years, the Tehran Book Fair has often been a venue for promoting violence and hatemongering against Baha’i citizens through the presence of books targeting various schools of thought. The publishers of these books mainly depend on government budgets or religious institutions.
This is in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom of dissent without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers; in the form of education, practice, worship and observance, and no one has the right to insult and attack another person due to differentiation and differences of opinion.”
Skylar Thompson, head of foreign relations for the Association of Human Rights Activists in Iran said: “It is unfortunate that the Iranian government, instead of fulfilling its duty to promote mutual respect and freedom of thought and religion in society, is spreading hatred. Spreading hatred against Baha’i citizens who have been subjected to double oppression and discrimination for decades is a continuation of a frustrating situation regarding the accountability of the Iranian government.”
Ms. Thompson called on the Iranian government to not only stop such programs, but, stressed that “hate speech is a direct attack on the fundamental values of human rights, dignity, and nobility of man such as tolerance, love and respect which aims at peaceful coexistence in society. In the face of such actions, governments, civil societies and the media need to act together against hatred.”
Baha’i citizens in Iran are deprived of liberties of practicing their religious beliefs. This systematic deprivation of liberty occurs while Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights entitle any individual to freedom of religion and belief and also freedom to express it individually or collectively and in public or in private.
According to unofficial sources, there are more than 300,000 Baha’is in Iran, but Iran’s constitution only recognizes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism and does not recognize the Baha’i faith. For this reason, the rights of Baha’is in Iran have been systematically violated over past years.