Several More Baha’is Jailed In Iran As Crackdown Continues

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Mina Karami and Keyvan Rahimian (combo photo)

Iran’s judiciary has handed down lengthy sentences to several members of the Baha’i community, the country’s largest non-Muslim group, the latest in a series of acts by the government against the faith’s followers.

Keyvan Rahimian, a psychologist and Baha’i follower, was sentenced to a total of nine years in prison by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, according to an Instagram page associated with Rahimian.

It added that the sentence was split between five years for alleged “educational and/or promotional activities contrary to or undermining the sacred Shari’a of Islam,” and an additional four years for “assembly and collusion.”

Rahimian was arrested in July 2023 and he has been detained in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since then.

Meanwhile, Mina Karami, another Baha’i follower, was arrested on February 14 by security agencies on the streets of the southern Iranian city of Shiraz.

She was subsequently transferred to Adel-Abad prison in Shiraz to commence a five-year sentence previously handed down in September 2022 for similar charges of undermining Islamic Shari’a through educational activities.

Karami had been temporarily released on bail in early 2022 but now faces additional penalties, including a cash fine and a decade-long deprivation of social rights.

Another Baha’i follower, Noushin Misbah, voluntarily presented herself to the local prosecutor’s office this week to begin serving a one-year prison term. She was then taken to Vakilabad prison in Mashhad.

Baha’i leaders have accused Iranian authorities of attempting to “systematically marginalize” its followers and deprive its members of their basic rights.

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, hundreds of Baha’is have been arrested and jailed for their beliefs. At least 200 have been executed or were arrested and never heard from again. Thousands more have been banned from receiving higher education or had their property confiscated, while vandals often desecrate Baha’i cemeteries.

Baha’i officials also point to the arrests and reports of ongoing detentions and the unclear status of other Baha’i followers, such as Iman Rashidi and Yekta Fahandezh, whose situations remain unresolved after more than two months in custody.

The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize the Baha’i faith, and authorities have frequently targeted its followers, labeling them as “spies and enemies.” This has led to a series of harsh penalties, including death sentences, arrests, and prohibitions on education and employment, highlighting a continuing trend of religious persecution in the country.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned Iran’s treatment of Baha’is, calling for an end to the discrimination and for the upholding of religious freedoms as per international standards.

There are some 300,000 Baha’i adherents in Iran and an estimated 5 million worldwide.

In a religious fatwa issued in 2018, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei forbade contact, including business dealings, with the followers of the faith.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda

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