Editor’s Note: Actor Rainn Wilson plays paper salesman Dwight Schrute in the U.S. television comedy “The Office.” Today he published a commentary on CNN.com about recent events in Iran.
(CNN) Why is Rainn Wilson, “Dwight” on “The Office,” writing a news commentary for CNN? Good question.
It’s a bit strange for me, to say the least; a comic character actor best known for playing weirdos with bad haircuts getting all serious to talk about the persecution of the fellow members of his religious faith.
Dear readers of CNN, I assure you that what I’m writing about is no joking matter or some hoax perpetrated by a paper-sellin’, bear-fearin’, Battlestar-Galactica obsessed beet farmer.
I am a member of the Baha’i faith. What is that, you ask? Well, long story short, it’s an independent world religion that began in the mid-1800s in Iran. Baha’is believe that there is only one God and therefore only one religion.
All of the world’s divine teachers (Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, Krishna, etc.) bring essentially the same message — one of unity, love and knowledge of God or the divine.
This constantly updated faith of God, Baha’is believe, has been refreshed for this day and age by our founder, Baha’u’llah. There. Nutshell version.
Now, as I mentioned, this all happened in Iran, and needless to say the Muslim authorities did not like the Baha’is very much, accusing them of heresy and apostasy. Tens of thousands were killed in the early years of the faith, and the persecutions have continued off and on for the past 150 years.
Why write about all this now? Well, I’m glad you asked. You see there’s a ‘trial’ going on very soon for seven Baha’i national leaders in Iran.
They’ve been accused of all manner of things including being “spies for Israel,” “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”
They’ve been held for a year in Evin Prison in Tehran without any access to their lawyer (the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi) and with zero evidence of any of these charges.
When a similar thing happened in 1980, the national leadership of the Iranian Baha’i community disappeared. And this was repeated again in 1981.
In fact, since 1979, more than 200 Baha’is have been killed, holy places and cemeteries desecrated, homes burned, civil rights taken away and secret lists compiled of Baha’is (and even Muslims who associate with them) by government agencies.
It’s bad right now for all the peace-loving Baha’is in Iran who want only to practice their religion and follow their beliefs. It’s especially bad for these seven. Here’s a link to their bios. They’re teachers, and engineers, and optometrists and social workers just like us.
This thought has become kind of a cliché’, but we take our rights for granted here in America. Imagine if a group of people were rounded up and imprisoned and then disappeared not for anything they’d done, but because they wanted to worship differently than the majority.
There is a resolution on the situation of the Baha’is in Iran being sent to Congress. Please ask your representatives to support it. And ask them to speak out about this terrible situation.
Thanks for reading. Now back to bears, paper and beets!
February 18, 2009 6:49 pm
We can keep calling it 21st Century but unless and until we, the humanity show our collective humanity against injustice, we live in the depth of dark ages.
The above comments in defense of the beleaguered Bahaís of Iran brings my heart a ray of hope that yeh we are moving not just talking, we are moving towards fairness and justice for all. May this be the beginning of elimination of all injustice and violence from our ailing but most beautiful planet.
Keyvan Geula MFCC
February 23, 2009 6:23 pm
This is the time not to be followed by darkness. This is the time for the realization of the Prophecies of old. This is the day in which mankind can behold the Face and hear the Voice of the Promised One. The very existence of evil assures us that there is plenty of good in the world. The very existence of darkness is an assurance in itself that there is glorious sunshine. The epitome of the dark schemes to eliminate the Baha’i Faith in Iran, by a government that claims to be following the lead of Prophet Muhammad, is in itself a phenomenological assurance that the Baha’i Faith in Iran cannot, and will not be extinguished. Rest ye assured: this is the day of the emancipation of the entire human race from selfishness, bigotry, fanaticism, estrangement and apathy. What seems to be happening now to our innocent sisters and brothers brothers in Iran is a clarion call for all humanity to rise up in protest!
What else can make you stand up for a cause, if innocent people who wish to practice an innocent, peace-loving religion are barred from doing so, from forming their own administrative structures to govern themselves? What else can make you stand up if children of Baha’is are vilified for being members of an international religion whose administration now covers practically the entire globe? What harm could come from a religion that proclaims that women and men (AT LAST!) are perfectly equal in the sight of God? What harm could come from training girl children to have the same educational and life opportunities as boy children? What harm could from religionists who claim that the earth is but one country and all humankind are members of that one country? What is wrong with advocating that all economies in the world should work together to benefit the entire human race, rather than serve competing interests who endlessly stack their policies and practices against each other? What harm could come from allowing men and women to govern the world? Where is the poison that comes out of the advocacy for all religions to be united in their love for God, in their love for humanity, in their upholding principles that will benefit the entire human race?
No, my friend, no, the the time has come for the entire human race to rise up against oppression. This is your time. This is my time. The emancipation of the entire human race is at hand. This is the time to rise up! The is the time to stand up and be counted. The is the time to say Never Again shall we tolerate oppression of whatever form in this world. Now is the time to act, to pray, to stand up, to protest, to make your views known! Now is the time. Let humanity rise up!