Anti-Bahaism in Iran


by Wahied Wahdat-Hagh

In Iran, state-sponsored hate propaganda and conspiracy theories against the Bahai are never-ending. Now, “crypto-Jews” – also called “Anusim” – are said to have been responsible for the spread of the Babi and Bahai religions in Iran.

Farsnews is not just any Iranian news agency. It is a state-sponsored news agency and mouthpiece of the Iranian military. An example of state-inspired hate speech appeared on 1 March 2009.

State-inspired lies: crypto-Jews are guilty of spreading the Bahai religion

Abdollah Shahbazi, the author of the article that appeared in Farsnews, is not unknown in Iran. He was an active member of the pro-Moscow communist Tudeh party in the days of the Soviet Union. At the end of the 1980s he founded a research institute that openly and closely cooperated with the secret service of the “Islamic Republic of Iran”.  And he was one of the prominent figures who supported the election of Ahmadinejad in the ninth presidential elections in 2005. Shahbazi – old communist and new Islamist, anti-Semite and anti-Bahai – seriously claims to have discovered in his researches that “crypto-Jews” have played “an important role in bringing about and spreading Babism and Bahaism in Iran’s recent history”.

Of course the Jews are to blame

Shahbazi is one of the Iranian authors who have been agitating against the Bahai for years. His conspiracy theories consist of half-truths whose ultimate purpose is to defame the Bahai and of course the Jews.   He claims that when the Babi religion began in the 19th century, it was not Muslims who converted to the Babi and Bahai religions but crypto-Jews who had merely assumed Muslim names.   What is true is that the Babi religion has been stifled in Iran at the insistence of the Shiite clergy and that the Bahai have been persecuted since their religion appeared in Iran. It is also true that a number of Jews became Bahai, but so did many Zoroastrians and Muslims.   In various writings, Shahbazi, the “Islamic Republic of Iran” ‘s increasingly influential hate speech propagandist, claims that Jewish Zionists had first decided to invent a new faith some 150 years ago. But, he said, they had been unsuccessful. For this reason some of them had converted to Islam so that they could then assume the Babi faith as Muslims. They had failed as Jews, so they wanted to support the Babi and Bahai as Muslims. The logic of Ahmadinejad’s supporter is plain and simply wrong: he believes that a good Muslim cannot become a Babi or a Bahai, so it must have been Jews that became Babi and later Bahai.   This corresponds to the fact that many Jews assumed the new faith when the Bahai religion first appeared. Likewise, it is also true that, despite persecution by the Muslim clergy and hate speech, many Zoroastrians and Muslims became Bahai.   It is a historical fact that most Babi actually converted from Islam. It is also a historical fact that more than the 20,000 Babi who were murdered in the 19th century under pressure from the clergy and state authorities were all converted Muslims. But this is precisely what the ideologues of today’s terror cannot admit; therefore they feel forced to invent anti-Semitic stories.  

Comte de Gobineau

Shahbazi even quotes from reports compiled by the then French ambassador to Iran, the famous racial theorist Comte de Gobineau, whom Napoleon III sent to Iran in 1855. As it happens, French ambassador Gobineau, who divided humanity into different races and was one of the founders of European racial theory, also wrote about the Babi movement. But Gobineau wrote positively about the Babi movement, this time not for racist reasons but probably because he admired the revolutionary spirit of the Babi. The Babi staunchly supported improved social conditions in Iran. They even abolished a number of Islamic laws that would now be regarded as reactionary, for example they espoused greater rights for women.   Napoleon III’s ambassador in Tehran therefore admired the Babi movement, irrespective of his racial teachings.   Shahbazi, the old communist and present-day Islamist supporter of Ahmadinejad, is not in the least interested in the reasons why, for example, Gobineau gave his time and attention to a Mullah Yazdi, who was said to have been very learned and to have played an important role at the beginning of the Babi movement.   For Shahbazi, it is only important that this Mullah Yazdi must have been a crypto-Jew and have spread the new faith in Khorassan province in order to destroy Islam.   For Gobineau, it was entirely irrelevant whether Mullah Yazdi was a convert – presumably Gobineau had no idea. But Shahbazi, who has obviously read Gobineau, makes this great discovery, as if Iranian Jews actually have brought about a religious movement that now, as the Bahai religion, has at least five million followers worldwide.   It would be an understatement to describe this stance of Shahbazi’s as paranoid, since this propaganda is not state-inspired “rhetoric” but is instead used for the real persecution of Iran’s Bahai.   For Shahbazi, it is important that a crypto-Jew (Anusim) can never become a real Muslim and therefore remains a “covert” Jew and, as a “covert” Jew, he therefore becomes at best a Babi or Bahai in order to fight Islam. Indeed, according to him, the Jewish Bahai in particular are notorious for their hostility to Islam.   Yet the truth is that the Bahai respect Islam as a historical religion even though Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Bahai religion, abolished the Islamic criminal code and many other Islamic laws. In fact, the Bahai do not believe that Mohammed was the “seal of the prophets”.   Ultimately, it is true that the “Islamic Republic of Iran”aims to enforce anachronistic laws by totalitarian means against the will of the people. In doing so, the totalitarian dictatorship is inhibiting the development and advancement of Iranian society. Anti-Bahaism and anti-Semitism are not “rhetorical” formulas in Iran, as many journalists and academics claim, but fixed components of the prevailing ideology and practice of the religiously legitimised dictatorship.

Freedom of opinion vs. freedom of expression

It is a historical fact that in the “Islamic Republic of Iran” people are free to have opinions but not to express them, as Iran’s senior prosecutor Ayatollah Dori Najafabadi recently confirmed. The Bahai have been eliminated as subjects in society for 30 years. At present, seven leading Bahai are in detention, allegedly for spying for Israel, and it is feared that they will be executed.   The Bahai are in fact persecuted and executed solely for open-minded faith. The Bahai International Community has written an open letter to Ayatollah Najafabadi, which is well worth reading. This letter makes it clear that not only is there no freedom of opinion in Iran but that the freedom of conscience of the entire Iranian nation and not just that of the Iranian Bahai is at stake.  

Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels.


7 Responses

  1. Shahriyar

    March 24, 2009 4:13 am

    In Farce De Middle East written in 1832 by Count De Mone of France, on page 28 the Count has written: “Iranian Crypto-Jews all use the names of Hassan Ali, Mamad Ali, Qurbon Ali, Sayed Ali, Ali Reza and Ali Akbar to hide their identities.” I hope the mouth piece of the Communist party of Iran, Mr Shahbazi, takes a note of this discovery too and broadcasts it on the Islamic Republic’s Farce news agency so that these crypto-jews who use Islamic names can all be arrested and send to Evin prison. We can not have crypto-jews with names such as Sayed Ali and Qurbon Ali and Ali Akbar running hell out of the Islamic Republic De L’Iran.

  2. Mark Obenauer

    March 24, 2009 4:32 am

    It is convenient for scared people to find a way to scapegoat a minority. I am now speaking from experience because I have bought into conspiracy theories that are more based on my own personal biases than fact. For example, I have listened to anti-Islamic rhetoric and because of my Western bias for a second I bought into it. If I wasn’t a Baha’i’ and told myself to “stop” I would have grabbed the bait hook, line and sinker. I had to realize I have some prejudice and I better examine it further before I directly or indirectly hurt innocent people.

    Some people (myself included) believe that salvation is not through works. Relatives of mine have told me that I am going to hell even though they really think I am a nice person. This is because they believe in strictly constructed parameters on the doctrine of Salvation, and my belief falls outside the limits of their fundamental Faith.

    And if belief about salvation is not enough add conspiracy theories and ideas about becoming infected with some sort of disease just by having social contact with that minority that doesn’t have the same fundamental Faith. At this juncture, these ways of responding to perceived heresy take on an inertia of their own and become more important than believing differently than the minority. So we hear about spying for Israel, or not being a true religion at all, but a religion developed by the British to cause disunity in our realm. And when it is no longer possible to use this conspiracy, another conspiracy is devised because these people are unclean heretics. Are these people unclean heretics or is it convenient to persecute them because this is how we have always dealt with dissidents or perceive deviants? And if I ask a persecutor why he or she persecutes this minority, I will not be informed about the baseline disagreement that caused all the conspiracy theories or voodoo theories, but will be informed about these baseless ideas.

    And it is easier to believe in these conspiracy theories than to deal with the baseline theological issues, which are the real and not imaginary, unlike conspiracy theories or the theory of the untouchables. And this cycle is a hard cycle to break because it depends on decades of tradition and subterfuge.

  3. Brooks Garis

    March 24, 2009 10:28 am

    With respect to the above line: “In fact, the Bahai do not believe that Mohammed was the “seal of the prophets”.” In fact, Baha’is do revere the station of Mohammad as the Seal of The Prophets, however this holy title and designation does not signify that the river of divine bestowal has dried up, nor does it nullify the title of Jesus as The Alpha And The Omega. Each of God’s Messengers is The First and The Last. A prayer of Baha’u’llah begins: “I beseech Thee by Thy Chosen Ones and by the Bearers of Thy Trust and by Him Whom Thou has ordained to be the Seal of Thy Prophets and of Thy Messengers…” Our understanding will continue to grow beyond its present limits. Baha’u’llah writes: Thus hath Muḥammad, the Point of the Qur’án, revealed: “I am all the Prophets.” Likewise, He saith: “I am the first Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus.” The belief of the Baha’is is in keeping with the Holy Qur’án and the statements of Imám ‘Alí and others that have been recorded in the scriptures. For this reason, were those imprisoned Baha’is to recant their faith they would be denying all the messengers of God. Their devotion to truth and love of God’s Holy Word is more precious than life, and should itself be honored and revered by their jailers as a standard of loyalty so stunning that it can only be a sign from God.

  4. sb

    March 24, 2009 12:30 pm

    “O ye friends of God!

    Let not the cavils of the foolish grieve you nor the tribulation of this world dismay you. Indeed, the motivating impulse whereby the sweet savours of God are diffused throughout the world is none but the suffering that befalleth His loved ones and the dire troubles that constantly touch His chosen ones.

    The legions of the world cannot withstand this mighty Army.
    Its weapons are divine knowledge and assurance, and its sword is
    its world-encircling light. Physical powers are capable of resisting earthly armies, but are impotent before the onslaught of the hosts of heaven. Thousands of times this hath been tried and proven.”

    – Abdul Baha

    The purveyors of these twisted falsehoods must believe that lies will sustain their weakening power. Witness the ideology of the former Nazi elite, the rigorous purges of the Soviets. Where are those ideologies today?

    Gone to the dust bins of history.

    Truth is eternal, divine, inescapable. An act of faith is the surest method to develop and keep the most meaningful power; unity. Humanity having tried everything else, is learning that power is divinely sourced. Spreading falsehoods cannot delay the inevitable. Hence these desperate “theories.”

    The Baha’i Faith is dear to millions who have never been to Iran. To them, vaunted conspiracy “theories” like those shown above, appear patently, laughably false.

  5. afshin

    March 24, 2009 1:00 pm

    Congratulations to Mr. Wahdat-Haq for this article. I wanted to suggest publishing in Persian, too. Or, has the original been Persian and already published somewhere?

  6. Ziba

    March 24, 2009 5:34 pm

    Everyone in Iran knows that Tudehis, MKOs, Pahlavis and Mullahs are the sworn enemies of the Bahais and the Jews. When faced with failure in solving Iran’s pressing problems, the first thing they do is blame the Bahais and the Jews. Although they differ in their views, they all have one thing in common: they are all Muslims in public (when it’s to their advantage) and atheists behind closed doors. And when they are caught, they sign a tobeh (confession statement) or become a Hajji by traveling to Mecca and Medina and reconvert back to Islam to save themselves. Even the last Shah became a Hajji to save himself and ordered the expulsion of Bahais from their jobs, buldozing of Bahai homes, arrest and killing of Bahais via SAVAK and their trained and funded Hujjatieh death squads. He even ordered confiscation of Bahai properties and encouraged and supported mullahs to destroy Bahais and their properties throughout Iran. He even ordered his army chief to destroy the Bahai house of worship in Tehran. And called the Bahais agents and spies, etc., etc.

    Thanks to Internet, Iranians have discovered and continue to discover these Truths. That is why people like Ali Khamanei are using Qurban Ali Dorri Najafabadi and Communist Shahbazi to attack and discredit you Bahais and Jews via their sermons in the mosques and their made up stories. These are all proofs of the utter failure of these regimes and shows how desparate these Mullahs have become that they have to enlist Tudehis (communists). Mullahs know they can not claim conversion back to Islam or become Hajji to save themselves. They are Muslims AND Hajjis.

    People in Iran know that the more desparate mullahs become, the more mullahs attack the Bahais. So the despatation of mullahs must be extremly high for them to team up with their old communist nemesis and let them have free say in Iran’s controlled media. These actions by mullahs proves the fact that mullahs have reached their end and it is a matter of time before they fade into history books amongst the dead.


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