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article imageOp-Ed: Propaganda desensitizes Iranian public to Baha'i persecution

By Jody-Lan Castle     Apr 2, 2013 in World
Tehran - Daily discrimination against Baha'is in Iran continues as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad convinces the Iranian population of the Religion's attempt to undermine the State.
The seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders have allegedly made a confession to conversing with Israel through an illegally founded organisation, acting against the Islamic Republic. The Baha'i leaders have been in prison since 2008, as the Iranian government often adds charges to their cases.
Baha'is have a strong connection with Israel, as do Christians, Jews and Muslims, as it is home to many important holy landmarks. The Baha'i World Centre and Shrines of two of the Religion's Prophets, the Bab and Baha'u'llah are in Acre and Haifa, Israel, as well as the Universal House of Justice, the regulatory and governing body of the Religion.
Ahmadinejad's hatred towards Israel has long been apparent. His alleged "wipe Israel off the map" quote sparked much outrage at the time.
Baha'is are not allowed to attend University in Iran, and so in 1987 a group of Baha'i academics and scholars set up the underground Baha'i Institute of Higher Education. Last month a Baha'i student was expelled from Tehran's University of Science and Technology after her Religion came to light. All students are required to state their Religion on the entry form, however she had left hers blank.
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and thousands more denied jobs, education and arrested on a daily basis. There were 100 cases recorded in 2011 alone by Iranian Human Rights activists.
The E.U. has called for an end to Iran's treatment of Baha'is in the past, but it is difficult to negotiate with a country that has very few diplomatic ties with the international community.
Baha'is and Muslims
Though the persecution of Baha'is is not permitted in Islam, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to suppress people who follow the Baha'i Faith. In many other Muslim countries too, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Baha'is have either faced discrimination or had to refrain from identifying themselves as Baha'is.
Religious tolerance is one of the teachings of Islam, and a chapter from the Qu'ran reads: “O you who do not believe! I worship not what you worship, and you are not worshipping what I worship;...Therefore, to you your religion; and to me my religion!”
But it seems that the Iranian government only considers religious tolerance relevant to the "People of the Book", i.e. Christians and Jews. This is why these religious minorities, whose populations in Iran are far smaller than that of Baha'is, face less discrimination.
Some Muslims are opposed to the Baha'i Faith because of its belief in Baha'u'llah, a Prophet who Baha'is claim came after the Prophet Mohammed. However, not many Muslims know that Baha'is share in their belief that the Prophet Mohammed was the final Prophet as the "Seal of the Prophets." The difference is that Baha'is consider him to be the seal of the Abrahamic Cycle, and Baha'u'llah to be the Prophet of a new era.
All Abrahamic Religions speak of a "return"; return of Jesus, return of the Mahdi. While Sunni Muslims believe that the Mahdi will return before the Day of Judgement and Shi'ite Islam says that the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad Al-Mahdi, was the Mahdi. Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah is the returned Prophet of which these Religions speak.
The Qur'an says: If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost All spiritual good (Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali). But it doesn't sanction any form of violence or discrimination towards those who choose other Religions.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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