USCIRF Supports Sanctions on Iranian Official Responsible for Baha’i Persecution

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USCIRF Supports Sanctions on Iranian Official Responsible for Baha’i Persecution
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes today’s announcement that the United States Treasury has sanctioned Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani for directing “the regime’s systematic blocking of social and economic progress of the Baha’i community, a religious minority group in Iran. This includes expelling members of the Baha’i faith from universities and denying them employment.” This is the first time the Treasury Department has sanctioned an individual specifically for his role in orchestrating the persecution of Baha’is in Iran.

Today’s designation of Mohammed Golpayegani for his role in directing the eradication of Baha’is is a clear signal that the United States will act with the full array of tools at its disposal against officials responsible for violating religious freedom.” said USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins. “The message of today’s designations is clear: America will act when foreign officials commit severe religious freedom abuses.

“Iran’s Baha’i community has long been the target of systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations by Iran’s government,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin. “USCIRF welcomes today’s news as a significant step toward accountability for religious minorities persecuted by governments around the world.”

As reported in USCIRF’s 2019 Annual Report in the chapter about Iran, Iran’s government considers the Baha’i faith a heretical “deviant sect” whose members are de facto apostates. As reported by the Baha’i International Community in 1991, Mohammed Golpayegani issued a confidential memorandum to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei outlining a plan for the systemic persecution of Baha’is in Iran, including expelling them from universities, destroying their cultural roots, and denying them employment and positions of influence. He then collaborated with the Ayatollah to ensure the actualization of the plan. Since 2010, USCIRF has recommended sanctioning individuals specifically for their role in violating religious freedom. Today’s announcement marks one of the United States government’s most explicit designations on this basis to date.


One Response

  1. William

    November 6, 2019 3:07 pm

    Sanctions on individual persecutors is an important step and it is to the USCIRF’s credit that it so recommends.

    However, Baha’is must also be aware that the instruments of implementing these steps may themselves be purveyors of attitudes as damaging as those held by the ayatollahs of the Islamic Republic. This announcement was made by Tony Perkins, a former congressman from Louisiana, who has publicly vilified Islam as a religion, fought against the offering of a Hindu prayer at the opening of a session of the U.S. Congress, appeared as a speaker before a white supremacist group, and runs a separate organization that purveys demonstrable falsehoods about gay people. He was appointed to the USCIRF in 2018 – a nomination opposed by some faith organizations because of his ongoing stances and prejudiced statements against non-Christian religions. While adhering to a rigidly literal interpretation of the Bible, he has said that Muslims commit “the ultimate evil” by taking the Qur’an literally.

    What an extraordinary situation now obtains, when no one, hearing a claim advanced, asks himself what the speaker’s real motive might be… To maintain his own leadership, he will everlastingly direct the masses toward that prejudice and fanaticism which subvert the very base of civilization.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, paragraph 183)

    Baha’is ought to take time to consider the motives of politicians as not necessarily being as altruistic as our own.


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