Actions In Iran Worry Bahais In Fort Collins Area

March 2, 2009

Author: Jean Spencer

Source: The Coloradoan

For some, visiting childhood memories is impossible, not because the economy is rocky or because their house was replaced with a new development, but because going back would mean risking their lives.

Roshan Fair, a Fort Collins resident for 21 years, moved to Colorado from Iran in 1978 and said she "can never go back" because she would be in grave danger.

Fair is a follower of the Bahai religion, a monotheistic religion born in 19th-century Persia with the belief that Baha'u'llah was God's last prophet, not Muhammad.

Since the religion's inception in 1844, the Bahais have been victims of religious persecution including imprisonment, executions and civil embarrassment, especially in Iran, according to the International Federation of Human Rights.

Recently, Iran has been the target of worldwide criticism for the treatment of its biggest minority demographic because of the incrimination and imprisonment of seven Bahai leaders Feb. 17 for alleged espionage against the state. According to an Islamic Republic News Agency release, the arrest followed an eight-month period of detainment without legal representation and marked a time when officials affirmed that a formal indictment would be issued and the case brought to court.

Now, however, more than a week since that statement, no news of a court appearance or official indictment has been released, leaving some Bahais apprehensive about the safety of their leaders, friends in Iran and other followers of the faith.

"It has made us all very fearful," Fair said. "The situation really doesn't look good, does it?"