The Baha’i Faith is the second biggest religion next to Islam. The group does not have any priests or theologians. It has no ecclesiastic chain of command and is managed instead by councils or assemblies chosen through secret voting annually.
For almost four decades, the Iranian Government has discriminated against and harassed the Bahaís based on its guiding principle. Tens of thousands of Bahaís have been executed, incarcerated, and tortured physically. Others were denied basic rights such as education and employment due to this religious conviction. Discrimination also includes stringent limits on worship and assembly. They are also subjected to intense anti-government propaganda especially in government mass media outlets. The Baha’is are not even recognized by the Islamic law and constitution.
Attacks have stepped up against this non-Muslim minority faction during the last 10 years. Many members have been wrongly accused and imprisoned although prison terms have been reduced significantly in the middle of 2013. This is the result of amendments in Iran’s Penal Code. This condition has not improved even after President Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in August of 2013, promised to put an end to this persecution.
Just two weeks ago, 21 members of the Bahaís were tried and 20 were actually sentenced to death for alleged espionage and connections with Israel in Shiraz City (Southwestern Iran). Sad to say, the Baha'is have been considered fall guys for many generations with more than 20, 000 slaughtered during the last century. This revelation was made by the Baha’I World Center based in the Northern port city of Haifa (Israel).
Ironically, the Bahaís are regarded as outlaws even as these poor people support all religions to include Islam. Bahaís reject violent behavior, refrain from participating in political exercises and espouse propagation of morality. They also preach against injustice or bigotry of ethnic groups, religions, nationalities, and gender. Despite their sense of uprightness, the group has been looked upon as non-conformists by the Muslim majority. Right now, there are around 400,000 Baha'is in this country. Some 10,000 of them left the country since the Iranian revolution. However, the others have not been permitted to leave as requests for exit visas are being refused by government officials.
Teheran believes that Baha'is are in connivance with Israel. Evidences come in the form of receipts of donations by the Iranian Baha'is to places of pilgrimage in Haifa and the city of Acre in Northern Israel. Disparities in belief add to the content of Iran for the Bahaís. The latter does not distinguish between males and females. There is no separation between genders during religious worship which is mandatory for Islamic conservatives.
The Baha’i center in the UN describes what is happening in Iran as an intense persecution that is so malicious and never-ending that it foretells the total purge of this minority. It was the Khomeini Government which spearheaded the campaign to smash the Bahaís foundation. On Aug.21, 1980, all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly in Teheran were arrested. Nothing has been heard of them. Since then, Mr. Barrett said, members of local spiritual assemblies in every locality have been picked up. Exact numbers are not known, but it seems that thousands have been jailed or abducted.
Governments of the United States, Europe and even the United Nations have condemned this maltreatment which Bahaís prefer to call “Genocide” or the extermination of ethnic classes or religious sects. It is very similar to what German Nazis committed against the Jews during World War II.
The Bahaís are convinced that these deliberate killings will not end until they become disloyal to their religion and embrace Islamic teachings.