sábado, 14 de noviembre de 2015

O people of the Qur'an, the Prophet of God, Muhammad, sheddeth tears at the sight of your cruelty

"A day shall be witnessed by My people whereon there will have remained of Islam naught but a name, and of the Qur'an naught but a mere appearance. The doctors of that age shall be the most evil the world hath ever seen. Mischief hath proceeded from them, and on them will it recoil." And, again: "At that hour His malediction shall descend upon you, and your curse shall afflict you, and your religion shall remain an empty word on your tongues. And when these signs appear amongst you, anticipate the day when the red-hot wind will have swept over you, or the day when ye will have been disfigured, or when stones will have rained upon you."
"O people of the Qur'an," Baha'u'llah, addressing the combined forces of Sunni and Shi'ih Islam, significantly affirms, "Verily, the Prophet of God, Muhammad, sheddeth tears at the sight of your cruelty. Ye have assuredly followed your evil and corrupt desires, and turned away your face from the light of guidance. Erelong will ye witness the result of your deeds; for the Lord, My God, lieth in wait and is watchful of your behavior... O concourse of Muslim divines! By your deeds the exalted station of the people hath been abased, the standard of Islam hath been reversed, and its mighty throne hath fallen.”

Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957)

Source:  World Order Baha’u’llah, p.179

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2015

Jewish Conversion to the Baha'i Faith

Source: www.hum.huji.ac.il.

by Prof. Moshe Sharon

The Messianic message of the Bahá’í Faith was, no doubt, one of the factors that attracted the Jews of Iran to the new religion. From ancient times, messianic expectations had flared up from time to time among the Jews in Iran. The Biblical figure of Cyrus, the Persian emperor who had urged the Jewish exiles to leave Babylon, return to the land of their fathers and re-establish their national independence and state, and build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem under his protection was very much alive in the hearts of the Jews of Iran. They cherished the hope for the appearance, once again, of a new Cyrus who like the Cyrus of old, whom the Prophet Isaiah (45:1) called the Lord’s anointed, or The Messiah of the Lord, would save them from the degrading, humiliating life of fear and deprivation, of persecution and poverty imposed on them by the Shī˓ite Muslims of Iran. It is very possible that even in the 19th century residues of the Messianic hopes kindled by the false-messiah Shabbatai Zvi (1626-1676), who had influenced Iranian Jewry in the Safavid period, were still alive under the surface.
Bahá’u’lláh, however, was different kind of Messiah. He was Persian, “home made”, who could well be a new Cyrus. There was even more than a hint of that in his claim to be the direct descendant of the last Sasanian King of Persia, Yazdgird III, who had lost his Kingdom to the Arab Muslims. He also asserted to the Zoroastrians that he was the expected King-Messiah Shāh Bahrām (Buck, loc. cit.).
The Jews in Iran were among the first to convert to the Bahá’í faith, already in the seventies of the 19th century. In Hamadān the Jewish converts were particularly numerous, and it is estimated that that at least one quarter of the Jewish community in the city adopted the new religion. In Gulpayegān, where there was a particularly educated Jewish community, about 75% of the Jews became Bahá’ís. Similar processes of conversion, though not in such proportions, also occurred in other major cities of Iran such as Kashān, Tehrān, Kirmanshāh, Yazd, and Shīrāz. The only major town where the Jews did not adopt the Bahá’í faith was Iṣfahān because of the particular fanaticism of the Shī˓ah clergy and population, and the relentless persecution of the Bahá’ís in this city.
Walter Fischel, one of the first scholars to study the conversion of the Jews to the Bahá’í faith, regarded Messianic expectations as the main reason for this conversion. In all the studies and reports describing the Jewish attraction to the Bahá’í faith we find, more or less, the same reasons for this strange phenomenon in which Jews willingly exchanged one status of persecution with another. These reasons can be summed up as follows.
The Jews had been suppressed by the Muslims and labeled by them as najis – ritually defiling, filthy - for centuries, and in particular since Iran became a Shī˓ite state. Suddenly they found themselves being treated by the Bahá’ís (who had been Muslims) as equal human beings, and even sought for as friends. They could share the once Muslim community life without being degraded, and no longer had to attach the special badge to their clothes, publicly displaying their Jewishness.
The revolutionary, liberal ideas of the new religion were particularly attractive. The equality of all humans, the abolition of all signs of discrimination, religious, social or racial, the liberation of women, the rejection of all forms of violence, the striving for peace and other similar ideas were, for the Jews of Iran, as attractive as the ideas of the French Revolution were for the Jews of Europe (Fischel 1934; Netzer 2007:249).
The idea of the oneness of religion was understood by them as meaning that becoming a Bahá’í did not involve forsaking one’s own religion. It was believed that the Bahá’í faith was a movement professing attractive ideas aiming at reforming society and morals, and that one could be Jewish and Bahá’í at the same time. This is what actually happened. Unlike the Jews who had converted to Islam and who were shunned by their family and the Jewish community at large, Jews who adopted the Bahá’í faith remained an integral part of their families and community. Most of them, in the first generation at least, continued observing the Jewish holidays, many went to the synagogue as usual on Sabbath, they were called to join a minyan (the quorum of ten men needed to perform public prayer), fasted on Yom Kippur, and some were even elected heads of the Jewish community.
The humanistic and liberal ideas of the Bahá’í faith seemed to be compatible with the words of the prophets of Israel in the Bible, to whom Baha’u’lláh showed respect and whom he quoted as proof for the divine source of his own message. He acknowledged the greatness of Moses and the Torah, which he held valid and equal to the other Holy books of the world. He and his propagandists made an effort, when approaching Jews, to indulge in interpretations of Biblical prophetic texts in order to prove that his advent had been foreseen by the previous prophets. In many cases the Bahá’í propagandists knew the Biblical texts better than their Jewish listeners did. One of the most successful Bahá’í propagandists in this regard was Abū al-Faḍl Gulpayegānī, the erudite Bahá’í scholar, who, using these methods, was very active and successful in converting Jews in Hamadān.
As already hinted, the poor condition of Judaism in Iran played a no less important part in the success of the Bahá’í propaganda among the Jews. For centuries, the Iranian Jews were virtually isolated from the rest of world Jewry. They were cut away from all the major centres of Jewish learning and developed nothing of their own. There was not even one Yeshiva anywhere, and consequently no proper Jewish religious leadership. The language, Persian, which the Jews spoke, was also a great hindrance since it cut them off completely from their nearest Arabic speaking Jewish neighbours. In this situation, the so-called Jewish rabbis in Iran that assumed the Muslim title of “mulla” were ignorant; they could hardly read Hebrew, and barely knew the basics of a very few Jewish laws. Jewish travelers who visited some of the Jewish communities tell amazing stories about the extent of the ignorance of the Jewish mullas and their flock. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Bahá’í emissaries to the Jews were far more knowledgeable than those “rabbis” who in many cases were themselves convinced to join the new religion. The younger generation, which had no spiritual leaders to look up to, drifted away from traditional Jewish life looking for something satisfying to fill their free time. There was nothing open to them outside the Jewish community since the Muslim society was closed to them if they did not choose to convert. The Bahá’í lecturers and instructors who came to the major towns such as Hamadān, Tehrān and Kashān, with their universal message of equality and fraternity, directed their activity particularly to the Jews, quoting the Bible and interpreting its messianic messages in an appealing and satisfying manner. For the first time, the Jews, including some of the “rabbis”, felt that there was a way to escape the confines of their community and mingle with a section of the general Iranian society, which seemed safe. Joining the Bahá’í faith, as indicated above, was not regarded as forsaking the religion of the ancestors. In time, of course, conversion to the new religion overcame the attachment to Judaism, and many Jewish converts became deeply involved in propagating the Bahá’í cause making a very valuable contribution to the spreading of the Bahá’í teachings among the Jews.
The attitude of the Bahá’í leaders to Judaism also impressed many Jews. In 1891, Bahá’u’lláh wrote directly to Baron Rothschild, announcing to him the imminent return of the Jews to the Land of Israel. This idea remained constant in the messages to the Jews both in Iran and the United States that were delivered by ˓Abdu’l-Bahá during his visit there in 1912. In a letter, which ˓Abdu’l-Bahá wrote to the Jews in Iran in 1897, he did not leave any room for ambiguity about the messianic aspects which placed the Bahá’í faith in the heart of Judaism. This intimate relation between the two religions was emphasized even more by the fact that all the most important Bahá’í holy sites were located in the Land of Israel. (Faü 2004:267)
Although this is the general picture based on the available, mainly Jewish, sources, it is also clear from these sources that there were also negative reactions from Jewish educational institutions that began intensive activity in Iran in the second half of the 19th century. From 1875, the Alliance Israélite Universelle began its activity in Iran, and in 1880 opened the first schools in Ṭehrān and Iṣfahān, and the Sephardic New York organization Otzar ha-Torah, or in Persian Ganj-i-Dānesh (The Treasure of Knowledge), also opened schools for the Jews. Although the French orientated Alliance schools were not particularly interested in traditional Jewish education, nevertheless they, together with Otzar ha-Torah provided a higher level of education, and prepared the next generation of Jewish Iranian intellectuals with a better knowledge of Hebrew, and access to the Jewish sources. In the long run this led to a lowering of interest in conversion to the Bahá’í faith, towards the second decade of the 20th century, but not to abolishing it. There were many cases of Jews who received a superior education in the Jewish schools but whose education led them straight to the liberal ideas of the Bahá’í faith as it happened for instance with Eliah Sābet a son of a rabbi from Iṣfahān. Bahá’í children were also sent to these Jewish schools, in the same way that Jews went to the Bahá’í schools, which, as we shall see, were established at about the same period. This education was naturally very beneficial and it was available also to the poorer Jews of the ghetto. On the one hand it led to the second wave of conversion to the new faith between 1880 and 1898, but on the other it opened up great opportunities for the Bahá’ís and the Jews after the fall of the Qajārs and the establishment of the Pahlevī monarchy, and enabled the Jews and the Bahá’ís to enter into the highest governmental and economic posts in the country (Faü 2004:270).
From 1865, the emissaries of the Alliance Israélite Universelle had begun sending their reports about the Jews in Iran, particularly Hamadān, to the headquarters of the organization in Paris. These reports supplied detailed information about the abysmal conditions of the Jews there, and helped, from time to time, in mobilizing influential Jewish leaders in the West, such as Sir Moses Montefiore, to use their influence with the French and British governments to intervene with the Iranian government and ease the pogroms or get some Persian Governmental protection for the Jewish quarters in some of the main towns.
From these reports it is clear that the situation of the Jews in Hamadān was particularly bad. Persecutions, pogroms, and forced conversion to Islam occurred repeatedly during the 19th century. Individual Jews were murdered and Jewish shops and homes were looted by the mob, incited on a regular basis by the Shī˓ite religious leaders, many of whom were personally involved in murdering Jews. This state of affairs continued until almost the second decade of the 20th century (Netzer 2007:234-240). Even as late as 1911, long after the constitutional revolution of 1906, severe persecution of Jews in Hamadān continued. Bahá’ís in Hamadān lived in or near the Jewish neighbourhoods, and sometimes one suffered because of the persecution of the other. However, much sympathy was shown by the Jews to their Bahá’í neighbours, and common danger brought them together.
Whatever the reason, the Jews of Hamadān, as mentioned above, were the first to accept the Bahá’í faith. There is a report that the first conversion of some Jewish individuals in Hamadān occurred already in 1852 (the year of the severe persecutions of Bábīs). The poetess Qurrat al-˓Ayn is said to have been the initiator of the conversion process in Hamadān following her visit to the city around 1847 . When still in Iraq she met a Jewish physician called Ḥakīm Masīḥ who later became a court physician to Muḥammad Shāh (died 1848). At this meeting, Masīḥ was very impressed by the eloquence of Qurrat al-˓Ayn and also by the liberal teachings of the Báb as presented by her. Apparently he converted to the Bábī faith in about 1860 after meeting an imprisoned Bábí named Mullā Ṣādiq-i-Muqaddas (Ismu’llah al-Asdaq), a survivor of the great battle of Shaykh Ṭabarsī. Thus he gained the place of the first Jew in the world to adopt the new faith. When the news reached Bahá’u’lláh he sent him a special epistle (in the Bahá’í language: “a Tablet was revealed by the Exalted Pen in honour of Ḥakīm Masīḥ.” The Bahá’í World, 15, 1976:430). In spite of the fact that Ḥakīm Masīḥ was an important personality, being the Shāh’s Physician, his influence on the Jewish community was negligible. Ḥakīm Masīḥ was the grand father of Dr. Luṭfu’llāh Ḥakīm (1888-1968) a member of the first Universal House of Justice. ( Ibid, 430-434; H. Balyuzi, Báb , Oxford 1975:165n.; idem, ˓Abdu’l-Bahá, Oxford, 1974:78n.) In spite of the conversions made so early, we still have to wait for the years 1877-1880 to witness the first wave of Jewish conversion en mass to the Bahá’í faith in Hamadān and elsewhere. As to the activity of Qurrat al-˓Ayn in Hamadān, it is reported that she conducted talks with two Jewish rabbis Mullā Iliyāhū (Eliyāhū) and Mullā Lāhizār (El˓azār) “which led to attracting members of the Jewish Faith to the Bábī fold. (Balyuzi, Báb, 165) If this piece of information is true, then the Jews in this case were extremely brave to join a movement that was deemed to be in open rebellion against the Shāh.
. . .

Source: www.hum.huji.ac.il

lunes, 24 de agosto de 2015

European Parliamentarians call for release of Iranian Baha'i prisoners

20 May 2015
BRUSSELS—Together with many voices from within Iran—including Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent human rights lawyer there—and from outside, five members of the European Parliament are calling for the immediate release of the seven imprisoned former Iranian Baha'i leaders saying, among other things, that such religious persecution is "unjust" and "unacceptable".
The five MEPs—Cornelia Ernst of Germany, Ana Gomes of Portugal, Tunne Kelam of Estonia, and Andrew Lewer and Julie Ward of the United Kingdom—made individual video statements as part of a global campaign designed to call attention this month to the seventh anniversary of the arrest and imprisonment of the seven Baha'is, collectively known as the Yaran—the friends.
"We join this appeal for their immediate, unconditional release," said Mr. Kelam, "because no country can claim that it has normal conditions for its citizens when a part of their citizens—some minority—is being persecuted systemically and so cruelly."
Ms. Gomes said: "It is really quite unacceptable that these Iranian citizens, who do not want more than to actually serve their country, their people, in service to the very peaceful teachings of the Baha'i Faith, be in prison and be charged with accusations that are totally baseless."
Ms. Ward said that it is "very difficult to understand why the Iranian regime would be so aggressive and so cruel" towards its Baha'i citizens, who represent a faith of "peace, humanity, gender equality and fairness".
Mr. Lewer said Iran should be held accountable for its human rights violations generally, and particularly for its persecution of Baha'is. "With so much attention on Iran at the moment because of the nuclear talks," he said, "I think it is important that these issues are not overlooked.
"Human rights and religious freedom should remain something that we stay concerned about even as we make progress, possibly, with Iran in other areas," said Mr. Lewer.

Ms. Ernst said: "We are strictly against the fact that individuals such as the Baha'is are being imprisoned because they speak in favour of the right for education or because they support the right to practice their religion.
"This is something that is absolutely unacceptable," she said.
Rachel Bayani, representative of the Baha'i International Community's Regional Office to the European Union, said the videos reflect the sincere concerns of European Parliament over Iran's treatment of Baha'is.
"These statements are a powerful expression of solidarity of the representatives of the people of Europe towards the people of Iran," said Ms. Bayani.
The video statements, which have also been posted to a campaign page on Facebook, can be viewed here.
Also available is a statement by Nasrin Sotoudeh addressing the seventh anniversary of the wrongful imprisonment of the former members of the Yaran. Ms. Sotoudeh was herself imprisoned in Iran with the Baha'i women who are among the seven now imprisoned. Her video statement is available here.
In 2010, the seven, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm, were tried and wrongfully convicted on charges of "espionage" and "spreading propaganda against the regime," among other false accusations. They were sentenced to 20 years in prison, the longest term of any current prisoners of conscience in Iran.

Source: http://news.bahai.org/story/1054

The Iranian Islamic form of anti-Bahaism is reminiscent of the Nazi regime's persecution of the Jews in the 1930s


25 September 2013
NEW YORK - Having heard Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's address to the United Nations today, the world will be watching to see how he will, beyond his general call for hope and moderation around the world, address the essential question of human rights in Iran.

 The Baha'i International Community is eagerly waiting to see what practical steps President Rouhani and his government will now take to redress human rights violations faced by Iran's ethnic and religious minorities, including Baha'is, the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority, as well as other sectors of Iran's population.

"In particular, we are hoping that President Rouhani will take steps to accord to the Baha'is their full rights as Iranian citizens," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community.

 "A first step would be to revoke the provisions of the 1991 secret memorandum issued by the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council and signed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. That document calls for the Baha'is to be treated in such a way that 'their progress and development are blocked' and it sets out policies aimed at eliminating the Baha'i community as a viable entity in Iran.

"For more than 30 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has systematically persecuted Baha'is, solely because of their religious beliefs, which promote peace, obedience to law and pose no threat to the government.

"A critical first test of his real intentions, then, is whether President Rouhani will begin to release the more than 115 Baha'is who are currently in prison in Iran, all wrongfully held on false or trumped up charges," said Ms. Dugal.

For more details about the persecution of Baha'is in Iran, go to:

http://www.bic.org/persecution-bahai-community  To read the 1991 secret memorandum,
go to: http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/yaran-special-report/feature-art...

Source: http://news.bahai.org/story/967 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Translation and Source of letter: The English translation of the attached letter stamped by Khamenei's office (Religious & Supreme Leader of Iran): "In the name of God. All members of the Bahai cult are guilty as being infidels & are regarded as "Najes" (an islamic term for being inherently unclean/dirty), thus people are advised to avoid proximity in food & other things because of their contagious nature AND it is paramount that the believers combat the schemes & devious nature of this misled cult."

Source: http://vladtepesblog.com/?p=47094 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

...This Islamic form of anti-Bahaism is reminiscent of the Nazi regime's persecution of the Jews in the 1930s. The Nazis demonised the Jews just like the Iranian Islamists demonise the Bahais because they believe in the emancipation of men and women and reject militant Jihadism. Bahais believe that parliamentary democracy is the best way forward and call for human rights oriented ethics to be at the fore when working towards world peace. Clearly the Iranian state clerics consider the Bahai faith as dangerous since it conveys ideas which are seen as invalid by the totalitarian rulers of Iran...


Men have oppressed women for centuries


 by David Langness

Men have oppressed women for centuries.

Denied personal safety, independence, education, the vote, political power, property rights and even control over their own bodies, minds and destinies, women have suffered the consequences of inequality in most societies around the world since the beginning of recorded history.

The Baha'i teachings say the time has come for those terrible injustices to stop. The fundamental Baha'i principle of the equality of the sexes, from the beginnings of the Faith's earliest years, has led people everywhere toward the recognition of women's rights and the fair and equitable treatment of women:

In the world of humanity we find a great difference; the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship. …Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respected since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven. Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of heart. Human virtues belong equally to all! - Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 161-162.

The Baha'is have promoted the equality of the sexes since their Faith's inception in the middle of the 19th Century. In Persia, where the Baha'i Faith had its beginnings, the unequal treatment of women was historically well-documented and particularly oppressive - and when the Baha'i Faith began, this fundamental principle of gender equality generated enormous controversy and persecution. Even today, Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran for their advocacy of gender equality and other progressive Baha'i teachings. But the Baha'i approach to achieving gender equality in the world has a unique and unusual aspect. A century ago Abdu'l-Baha, the son of the Baha'i Faith's Founder Baha'u'llah, actively encouraged social movements for the equality of women - by asking men to take responsibility for the issue: Woman must endeavour then to attain greater perfection, to be man's equal in every respect, to make progress in all in which she has been backward, so that man will be compelled to acknowledge her equality of capacity and attainment. God's Bounty is for all and gives power for all progress. When men own the equality of women there will be no need for them to struggle for their rights! One of the principles then of Baha'u'llah is the equality of sex. Women must make the greatest effort to acquire spiritual power and to increase in the virtue of wisdom and holiness until their enlightenment and striving succeeds in bringing about the unity of mankind. - Paris Talks, p. 163.

That phrase - "When men own the equality of women" - calls for a radical new take on the issue of equality. It asks men to become the advocates of women; to stand up for their rights; to help bring about a new era of gender equality around the world. Baha'is understand that the absolute equality of men and women advances daily in the world, and that male involvement will help bring it about more quickly, more efficiently and with more unity of purpose: Men, for their part, must learn to cooperate with women and encourage their efforts. When men actively promote the principle of equality, women will no longer have to struggle for their rights. Gradually, Baha'is believe, both women and men will discard long-held unhealthy attitudes and progressively incorporate into their lives the values conducive to true unity… - The Baha'i International Community, Statement on the Development of Women, Mar 11, 1992.

This clear and compelling vision of a world where sexual equality prevails characterizes the Baha'i understanding of what an equitable future will look like: The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced. - From a talk by Abdu'l-Baha, cited in Dr. J. E. Esselmont's Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 149.

Read the previous article in the series: Baha'i Principles - Universal Education The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha'i Faith.

Source: http://bahaiteachings.org/bahai-principles-equality-of-the-sexes

By: David Langness David Langness writes and edits for BahaiTeachings.org and is a journalist and literary critic for Paste Magazine. He and his wife Teresa live in the Sierra foothills in Northern California.

Efforts to destroy the economic life of the Baha'i in Iran


Efforts to destroy the economic life of the Baha'i community has, in fact, been a facet of the government's persecution since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when the government began dismissing Baha'i civil servants wholesale - and then moved to systematically revoke the business licenses of Baha'is in the private sector. In this manner, thousands of Baha'is have lost jobs or sources of livelihood over the last 30 years. Then, during the 1990s, there was a period of relative security, when government pressure eased. More recently, however, economic oppression has again risen - and the situation in Semnan offers a case study of how authorities are attempting to literally starve Baha'is out of existence. The most recent case shows the extremes to which authorities are willing to go to eliminate means of livelihood for Baha'is in Semnan. On 28 May 2012, Intelligence Ministry agents raided and sealed two factories, with full or partial Baha'i ownership. One of the factories - which manufactured drapery - employed 51 staff, 36 of whom were not Baha'is. The other, a lens grinding factory, had two Baha'I employees and six others. Such closures demonstrate that, in the ongoing effort to strangle the Baha'is economically, the authorities are willing to cause other workers - including Shia Muslims - to face economic hardship as well. The assault on the livelihood of the Baha'i community of Semnan began in early 2009 when the Chamber of Commerce of Semnan, along with 39 member trade unions, decided to stop issuing business licenses and managerial permits to the Baha'is - and to stop renewing current licenses. This led to the revocation and confiscation of existing business licenses and permits for Baha'is throughout the city. As well, authorities frequently put seals on the doors of Baha'i-owned shops in the city, indicating they have been officially closed. As of this writing, at least 27 Baha'i-run business enterprises, including factories, shops, workshops, and offices have been closed by the authorities, leaving more than 110 Baha'i families without a source of income. Among those whose shops were closed this way is Shamil Pirasteh. Her business license was revoked without explanation on 10 March 2009. When officials were asked about the revocation, they said the order came from "higher authorities." In another example, the flower shop of Peiman Rahmani was closed after his business license was revoked in 2009. His father had owned and successfully operated the shop for some 20 years. Reports indicate that these steps came as a result of pressure that the head of the Basij trade union had placed on these organizations. Banks have also begun to refuse to extend loans to Baha'is who are otherwise well qualified to receive such financial support. Mr. Behfar Khanjani - husband of Shamil Pirasteh - was repeatedly refused loans that would keep him and his wife solvent. At least five other Baha'is in Semnan have been refused loans. Mr. Khanjani's apparel store was closed and he was imprisoned in June 2011 for four years. Recently, some of the Baha'is of Semnan were barred from bringing merchandize from elsewhere to the province for trade and sale, gravely limiting or cutting off their ability to generate any income. Those who are still able to operate their businesses report that they are under surveillance and receive phone calls to report to the authorities from time to time. When they do so, they are told the call they received did not come from that office. In other cases they are accused of undermining the government by closing their stories on Baha'i holy days. They are told that by doing so they are creating public disturbance for which the authorities threaten to shut down their businesses. Authorities have also harassed Baha'i farmers in the region. For instance, orders were issued to destroy the acreage which the farmers had attained, with legal permission, for their own use. In one case, orders were given to destroy the animal stock on these farmlands, which had been purchased by the Baha'i farmer 17 years previously. On other occasions, authorities have closed and sealed water wells on Baha'i farms, even though permits for those wells had been legally issued. There have also been general efforts in Semnan to suppress Baha'i businesses by encouraging people not to patronize them. Other merchants, such as architects, have been warned against dealing with Baha'is in construction, including accepting bids or contracts from them. All of these measures are in line with the policy outlined in the Baha'i Question memorandum - and they have also been implemented in other towns and cities throughout Iran. That this effort at economic strangulation is official government policy was proved by the emergence of a secret letter, dated 9 April 2007, from the Public Places Supervision Office of the Public Intelligence and Security Force in the province of Tehran. Addressed to regional commanders of police and the heads of public intelligence and security forces, that letter instructs them to prevent members of the "perverse Bahaist sect" - along with members of other "anti-revolutionary political organizations" - from engaging in a wide range of businesses. These include "high-earning businesses," "sensitive-business" categories, such as the press, engraving, the tourist industry, car rentals, publishing, hostel and hotel management, photography and film, computer sales and Internet cafés, and food businesses which might offend Shi'a concepts of "cleanliness."

 Source: http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/semnan/feature-articles/economic-attacks

Irans persecution of the Bahai goes beyond the grave

The House of the Bab in Shiraz, one of the most holy sites in the Bahai world, was destroyed by Revolutionary Guardsmen in 1979 and later razed by the government.

By Sasha Eskandarian, National Post August 19, 2014

It's not difficult for me to remember the horrible days of hardship I experienced as a Baha'i teenager, living in Shiraz, Iran, in the early 1980s. As a member of the Baha'i faith, the largest religious minority community in Iran, life became harder and harder for us as we were being attacked and terrorized in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Baha'i families in my hometown of Shiraz, including my own, lost their livelihoods. We were scared for our lives, as well. In those years, many members of Baha'i institutions, both at the national and local levels, were arrested and killed. Some were tortured in an effort to force them to recant their faith. Others mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Baha'i homes were attacked by mobs, and some were burned. Even the dead were targeted: Baha'i cemeteries around the country were attacked and destroyed. I vividly remember the Baha'i cemetery in Shiraz. We called it the "Everlasting Garden," a place of peace and tranquillity. We visited our departed family and friends' graves, including those of my younger brother and my grandmother. We prayed and meditated there in a loving and spiritual atmosphere. I remember going there after it was attacked, along with a group of youth, to help restore what was left, to plant flowers, water the garden, dig graves in preparation of burials. At a time of crisis, it was a joy to render this service to my community. In 1983, 10 Baha'i women from Shiraz were hung because of their faith. I knew them all. The youngest, Mona Mahmudnizad, was a close friend of mine. We had such a good time together, including many sleepovers where we shared our youthful confidences. She was only 17 years old, and was buried in our "Everlasting Garden." Soon after, I left Iran to come to Canada. I was determined not to look back. I wanted to close this chapter of my life forever. I even changed my name, hoping that it would bring a new beginning. Thirty years later, I realize how childish it was to think that I could turn my back on such injustices. How could I forget my family and friends? After all that time, the situation hasn't changed much in Shiraz. Many more Baha'is were killed since I left; many others are in prison. The attacks continue, even if they are overshadowed in the media by other instances of bloodshed elsewhere in the Middle East. Now, the "Everlasting Garden" is being completely demolished to make way for a new sports and cultural complex. Iran's Revolutionary Guards are destroying whatever was left of the cemetery. As early as the 1980s, the main buildings were destroyed after the property was confiscated by the government. The Guards now are going further. They've started digging out bodies - including those of my brother, grandmother and dear friend Mona - from their resting graves, and placed them in an open canal. They even held a public celebration of the demolition's progress, to which the media was invited. The commander of the Guards gave a speech attacking Baha'is while standing on top of our loved one's graves, or what is left of them. How much longer do Baha'is in Iran need to suffer? Are we hearing the voices of the innocent? I share the suffering of those in Shiraz. They are my family and friends, whose only aim is to follow the precepts of their faith, and work for the betterment of mankind. I invite others to raise their voices to protest this outrageous wrongdoing and help stop this injustice. National Post Sasha Eskandarian is a Baha'i currently living in Mississauga, Ontario. She is a Research Manager in the department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster Universit

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Source:  http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/08/19/sasha-eskandarian-irans-persecution-of-the-bahai-goes-beyond-the-grave/