Iran’s Shiite clerical government has shut down at least 14 businesses associated with Baha’i citizens in Gorgan, Iran, as another instance of persecution.
Some sources reported that the sealing of the businesses occurred earlier in the week, purportedly “due to the closure on Baha’i religious holidays.” Moreover, there is an ongoing concern that additional Baha’i-owned businesses in the city may also face similar actions.
The officials in Gorgan sealed the businesses “without prior notice” and, notably, have not provided responses to inquiries made by Baha’i citizens who visited the related government department on Saturday to seek clarification on the matter.
The incident sheds light on the consistent challenges faced by Baha’i citizens in Iran. The 1979 constitution of the Islamic Republic recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. The Baha’i faith is not officially recognized, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has previously labeled it as a cult. In 2018, he issued a religious fatwa prohibiting contact, including business dealings, with Baha’i followers.
Hundreds of Baha’i community members have been jailed and scores charged with espionage and some have been executed over the years.
Iran is home to an estimated 300,000 Baha’is, and they often report systematic violations of their rights, including harassment, displacement from their homes and businesses, and discrimination in terms of access to government employment and higher education.