[Green Heritage News, 10 Oct. 2011] NEW YORK, Carol Forsloff – Iran’s persecution of Baha’is continues in a country where those of minority religious views not only have their spiritual life restricted but their education as well.
Recently more than 40 distinguished philosophers and theologians from 16 countries condemned Iran for restricting young Baha’is and others from seeking higher education.
Baha’is constitute the largest minority religion in Iran. The religion began in the mid-19th century with the announcement first of the Bab and later Baha’u’llah that God had sent a “manifestation” to bring a new message of peace for the world. The Bab is a title meaning “the Gate” and refers to a man claimed to be the forerunner to Baha’u’llah, the prophet for the present age according to his followers, in the same manner as John the Baptist was to Jesus Christ.
Islam teaches that Muhammad was God’s final messenger. Therefore, any religion that adds to or promotes another religion as superior is considered heresy.
43 distinguished academics from Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim backgrounds have signed an open letter, published in The Daily Telegraph (UK), and reported in the Folha de São Paulo (Brazil), as presented in a press release from the National Baha’I Center over the weekend.
The academics address the persecution and inequities of the Baha’is by emphasizing in a letter to the Iranian government, “Attacks such as these, against the rights of citizens to organize and be educated in freedom, can no longer be tolerated. We call upon the Iranian government not only to cease its persecution of Baha’is, but to provide, and promote, education for all.”
On Sunday, the Baha’is of Beaverton, one of the small-town areas that stretch the Portland, Oregon tentacles, met at a local center to reaffirm their belief in basic Baha’I principles which include the independent investigation of truth and the equality of women and men. Baha’is maintain men and women should be educated equally, using the analogy of a bird with two wings, male and female, both of which must be strong for the bird to fly. Independent investigation of truth encourages people to find religious and scientific truths, which must be in balance as well according to Baha’is.
Janet Imaki, a local Portland-area Baha’i, says this, “Baha’i principles are essential not just for us but for all mankind, when it comes to things like education. We are a growing community in the Portland area, but in other parts of the world, like Iran, our religion has been persecuted. Many Iranians of the Baha’i Faith are in this country and tell us how wonderful it is to worship freely in America and to seek education.”
Baha’is strongly encourage education and believe work done in the spirit of service to be an expression of worship.