Editor’s Note: Abolhassan Banisadr was the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1980-81). The following is a translation of an introduction to an interview he held with Rahmat-Qasem Begu, a reporter for Radio France Internationale, on Monday, 16 February 2009.
In Iran, debate about the manner in which the government is dealing with the Baha’i community and its followers gains a new intensity each day. For instance, Hojjatol-Islam Duri-Najafabadi, the nation’s prosecutor-general, wrote a letter to the Minister of Intelligence instructing him to combat the activities of this community.
In recent months, increased incarcerations, pressures on the Baha’is in addition to [possible] imprisonment, the status of their civil rights and of the citizenship rights of this community, have attracted the attention of national and international agencies concerned with human rights. Regarding the government’s reaction towards this community [i.e., Baha’is], which has several hundred thousand members, Hojjatol-Islam Dur-Najafabadi stated, “According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic, having a certain belief and conviction is free. However, it is illegal to state or proclaim it in any manner.”
Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first president, says, “When having any belief is free, how can expressing it be prohibited by law?”
[Listen to the entire interview at: http://www.rfi.fr/actufa/articles/110/article_5377.asp. Translation by Iran Press Watch.]