Baha’is Seek Iranian President’s Intervention to End Persecution in Iran

Baha’i leaders ask President Rouhani to put an end to the religious discrimination in Iran.

The Baha'i community in Iran has been the victim of targeted persecution and violence ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The community says that despite the nation's claims about equality for all and economic justice, they have been victim to a systematic isolation and impoverishment by the government which continues to this day. Adherents of the Baha'i faith have been facing discrimination in schools and workplaces simply because of their faith. Tired of this, the community has now decided to write a letter to the president, urging him to bring an end to this unfair treatment.

The letter contains a detailed account of the ill-treatment Baha'is face each day from the greater community. The letter has been signed by the Principal Representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations and highlights the blatant contrast between the promises of equality by the Government on paper, and the actual treatment the community receives in practice. The letter distinctly asks the president, Hassan Rouhani, “How can the deliberate policy of a government be to impoverish a section of its own society?”

The Baha'is in Iran describe the treatment they receive as an “economic apartheid.” Baha’is have been refused admission to schools and even refused employment because they are not Muslims. The larger community refuses to trade or otherwise interact and conduct business with them because they feel the Baha'is are “unclean” due to their faith. In some cases, shops and business run by the Baha'is have also been shut down and their properties unfairly confiscated. A larger bail amount is placed on Baha'is who are arrested (often arbitrarily), which only adds on to the miseries of the community which is already reeling under an economic crisis thanks to the difficulty in running businesses and getting employment.

In 2014, seven Baha'i leaders were imprisoned with a 20-year sentence to serve. While they were accused of “spreading propaganda against the regime,” a more recent report by the UN showed that the imprisonment happened simply because they were non-Muslim leaders.

Baha'i adherents hope that the letter will help in mitigating the persecution they are going through. The letter also expresses concern over the effects that the isolation will have on their children in their future, and consequently on the future of the nation. The letter also points out that a country cannot boast of progress, development and equality if a section of its citizens are being persecuted on purpose. Finally, it calls on the president to review this situation and to solve the issue as soon as possible.

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