Local Baha'is Begin Holy Season, Pray for Imprisoned Leaders

February 28, 2009

Author: David Yonke

Source: The Toledo Blade


As members of the local Baha'i community enter a holy season of prayer and fasting, their worship is tempered by concerns for the safety of seven religious leaders facing trial in Iran.

The festival of Ayyam-I-Ha, a time of celebration and fellowship in which Baha'is fast and abstain from drinking from dawn to dusk, begins Monday and continues for 19 days.

But the Baha'is are worried about seven leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran for more than nine months with no access to legal counsel.

The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Sylvania held a prayer meeting Thursday night for the Iranian prisoners, who face charges of "espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic."

Those charges have been denounced by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. House of Representatives, Amnesty International, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, among other agencies and organizations.

The State Department called the charges "baseless" and "part of the ongoing persecution of Bah'ai in Iran."