Open Letter featured on CNN


cnnTEHRAN, Iran (CNN) — A group of Iranian intellectuals released a public apology this week for what they say is a long history of the country’s mistreatment of a religious group called the Baha’i.

The letter lists 11 reasons why its signatories are ashamed of the past treatment of the Baha’i

The apology — titled, “We are ashamed” — was published on the Web site and was signed by 42 Iranian professionals, all of whom do not live in Iran.

“As Iranian human beings, we are ashamed for what has been perpetrated upon the Baha’is in the last century and a half in Iran,” the letter says.

In the letter, the group detailed incidents of violence and discrimination that it says the Iranian government has perpetrated against the Baha’i.

The Islamic republic has been condemned by human-rights activists and governments across the globe for its treatment of the Baha’i.

The Baha’i movement has said that six of its followers were arrested in January in Tehran, including one who works with Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, the lawyer and activist. Seven leaders of the group arrested in 2008 also remain in jail.

Members of Baha’i — who think they are targeted in the predominantly Shiite nation because of their faith — have faced arrests and other oppression over the years.

They say the persecution is part of a pattern that began in 1979. That’s when the monarchy of the Shah of Iran was toppled and an Islamic republic was created.

The Baha’i — regarded as the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran — say they have 5 million members across the globe and about 300,000 in Iran.

The European Parliament passed a resolution in January that criticized Iran’s treatment of the Baha’i. The U.S. State Department also criticized Iran’s treatment of the Baha’i in a report last year.

This article on Arabic CNN:


7 Responses

  1. Shamsi M.

    February 8, 2009 6:21 pm

    While I think its definitely good that CNN even mentioned this letter at all, I am dismayed by the subversive nature of some of the statements in this article. The term Baha’i “movement” makes it sound as though the Baha’i Faith is not a legitimate religion, which is most certainly is. Also, the statement that Baha’is “think” they have been persecuted—suggesting that its all in people’s heads—is incredulous to me. Baha’is obviously *have* been persecuted in Iran from the beginning, and for CNN to suggest otherwise is extremely upsetting to me.

  2. Shamsi M.

    February 8, 2009 7:08 pm

    I apologize for my unfamiliarity with the use of the term, but at the same time something about this article is just too wishy-washy in its statements for me to feel fully happy with it. oh well… can’t have everything, and Im just glad that this issue has been so prominently in the news recently. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. :-)

  3. Jeune Street

    February 10, 2009 11:08 am

    I agree with you Shamsi. There are historically-specific reasons for which the Guardian used the term ‘Baha’i movement,’ and I think it’s a bit anachronistic now. It also subtly gives credit to Iranian government claims that the Baha’i Faith is a ‘political movement’ rather than a world religion.

    I posted a critical look at CNN’s recent coverage of the Baha’is on my blog (Jeune Street), which you are welcome to visit.

  4. Marty F

    March 13, 2009 12:58 am

    It’s good to see such media attention being focused on this issue. But, religious persecution is going on all over the world – witness the Falun Gong in China, the Tibet problem, and others. Houses of worship of other faiths in Iran are also being raided, some of their followers are harassed. Let’s deal with all of those issues, through our good offices in this country. The Baha’i Seven can be utilized as a focal point, but let’s not forget other countries, other persecutions going on.


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