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February 20, 2009
Again, religious persecution in Iran
As Thomas Lifson noted yesterday Iranian authorities destroyed a Sufi holy site, continuing their practice of pressuring and discriminating against religions that do not strictly follow the Shi'ite form of Islam. But the Sufis are not the only religious minority suffering discrimination in Iran.
The 2500 year old Jewish community, which numbered over 80,000 thirty years ago at the time of the Khoemeni Revolution which overthrew the Shah, has dwindled to about 20,000. Those remaining Jews live restricted personal and religious lives, always under suspicion of being traitors for pro "Zionist" activities.
Despite the official distinction between "Jews," "Zionists," and "Israel," the most common accusation the Jews encounter is that of maintaining contacts with Zionists. The Jewish community does enjoy a measure of religious freedom but is faced with constant suspicion of cooperating with the Zionist state and with "imperialistic America" — both such activities are punishable by death. Jews who apply for a passport to travel abroad must do so in a special bureau and are immediately put under surveillance. The government does not generally allow all members of a family to travel abroad at the same time to prevent Jewish emigration. Again, the Jews live under the status of dhimmi, with the restrictions im posed on religious minorities. Jewish leaders fear government reprisals if they draw attention to official mistreatment of their community.
Other religious groups are persecuted too. This week Iran admitted that seven Bahai leaders arrested and detained more than eight months ago would be charged with spying for Israel.
The Bahai faith, which began in the 19th century in what is now Iran, claims their founder, Baha'a'llah, is the last Moslem prophet, not Mohammed. Bahai's international headquarters are located in Haifa, Israel where Bahais, along with Moslems and Christians of various backgrounds, plus other religions in addition to Jews can practice freely.
This is not true in Iran.
Bahais claim 300,000 followers in Iran, but there are no independent statistics on the denomination's size in the country. The Islamic republic allows Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who are regarded as members of monotheistic religions, to hold religious gatherings. Bahais are forbidden to hold such meetings, and those who make their faith public are banned from studying at universities serving in the army and working in government offices.
The Iranian prosecutors claim
"All evidence points to the fact that the Bahai organization is in direct contact with the foreign enemies of Iran," Dorri-Najafabadi wrote in the letter, (snip) "The ghastly Bahai organization is illegal on all levels, their dependence on Israel has been documented, their antagonism with Islam and the Islamic System is obvious, their danger for national security is proven and any replacement organization must also be dealt with according to the law,"
This charge is part of the latest prosecution against Iranian Bahais.
The Bahai International Community, which represents members of the faith worldwide, says hundreds of followers have been jailed and some executed in the years since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
Naturally Iran denies that it executes--or even persecutes--people because of their religion.
Most so called human rights groups and others who complain loudly about the U.S.'s and Israel's treatment of minorities, even those who want to destroy them, are relatively silent about Iran's actions.
To their credit, members of Congress have protested but given Iran's deep hatred for Big Satan (America) and Little Satan (Israel) this has had no effect.