DHAKA, Bangladesh — A group of Bangladeshi lawyers have joined the increasing numbers of Muslim intellectuals, religious leaders, and professionals worldwide who have called for an end to the persecution of Baha’is in Iran.
In a letter dated 29 May 2016, signed by a dozen “law professionals of Bangladesh”, the group says it wishes to “express our condemnation to the government of Iran for the arrests of the Baha’is, including their seven leaders, only because of their religious belief and their imprisonment without any recourse to justice.”
They continue: “The fact that the Baha’is are a peaceful community and the largest minority of Iran and being subjected to a premeditated program of hostility especially by the government who have closed the doors of all socio-economic opportunities including jobs, education and security for them is contrary to the norms of any civilized society, and, absolutely unacceptable!”
The group ends by calling for the immediate release of the seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders. They also urge Iran to stop its propaganda campaign against Baha’is.
The 12 Bangladeshi lawyers join a growing number of Muslim religious leaders, scholars, and human rights activists around the world who have chosen to speak publicly against Iran’s systematic persecution of Baha’is in recent years.
In May, for example, five Iranian religious scholars published a statement decrying Iran’s oppression of Baha’is and calling for tolerance towards those who believe differently.
Abdolali Bazargan, Hasan Fereshtian, Mohsen Kadivar, Sedigheh Vasmaghi and Hasan Yousefi-Eshkevari noted that the “followers of the Baha’i religion have been oppressed because of their religion and beliefs for decades,” according to a translation by Iran Press Watch.
“Criticism and rejection of the beliefs of a sect or religion cannot justify violence and tyranny against its followers,” said the five scholars, adding that “Islam supports freedom of religion and belief. The Qur’an has affirmed this important point in several verses.”
Other Muslim religious leaders have, likewise, begun to make similar calls for tolerance toward Baha’is.
Ayatollah Tehrani’s action, which included giving to the Baha’is of the world an illuminated work of calligraphy featuring a sentence from the writings of Baha’u’llah, calling for religious coexistence with Baha’is was quickly praised by many Muslim religious leaders.
These included Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh, a highly respected Muslim theologian and well-known in France for his promotion of interfaith activities who in 2014 condemned the persecution of Iran’s Baha’is as being “in disdain of law” and “an intolerable scandal.”