Bahais Try to Help Others Escape Persecution In Iran

March 8, 2009

Author: Mike Belt

Source: The Lawrence Journal-World

It’s been nearly a year since seven leaders of the Bahai faith in Iran were arrested and accused of spying for Israel.

Now, Bahai followers in the United States — including a group in Lawrence — are asking for help. They want the U.S. and other nations to condemn the detention and send a message to the Iranian government.

“We’re a small group of Bahai here, and we’re asking our congressmen to help us,” said Farhang Khosh, a Lawrence Bahai. “Iranian leaders, at least they will know that others are watching.”

The detained Bahais have been unable to speak with attorneys and no evidence has ever been presented against them, Khosh said.

Bahais have been persecuted in Iran since the religion was born in 19th century Persia. It is the largest minority in Iran, a nation now dominated by the Muslim religion. Bahai leaders in the past have disappeared or been killed. The persecution increased after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Khosh said.

Unless the rest of the world opposes the Bahai detention, Iran’s leaders will be encouraged to continue persecution and do the same to other religious minorities, Bahais say.

The Bahais are writing letters, sending e-mails and making phone calls to their congressional representatives asking them to approve a resolution introduced last month condemning Iran for detaining the Bahai leaders and calling for their release. They ask other Americans to do the same.