The Bahá'í Faith
Persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran
According to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the
U.S. State Department:
"The Constitution of Iran states that Islam is the official state
religion, and the doctrine followed is that of Ja'afari (Twelver) Shi'ism. The
Constitution provides that 'other Islamic denominations are to be accorded full
respect,' while the country's pre-Islamic religious groups--Zoroastrians,
Christians, and Jews--are recognized as 'protected' religious minorities.
However, Article 4 of the Constitution states that all laws and regulations must
be based on Islamic criteria. In practice, the Government has severely restricted
freedom of religion." 1
Of particular concern are the 300,000 to 350,000 Bahá'ís in Iran. They are experiencing oppressive government
persecution for their religious beliefs. Bahai's are looked on as Islamic heretics by many
fundamentalist Muslims, including the theocratic government in Iran. This is
largely because their founder, Baha'u'llah, claimed in the 19th century to be the latest prophet of God. Mohammed, the founder of Islam,
had declared himself to be the final prophet centuries earlier. 2
Not being a either protected religious minority or a faith
group within Islam, they are a particular target for assassination and judicial
murder and oppression.
||Prior to 1979: Under the regime of the Shaw of Iran, Bahai's lived
in relative peace and harmony within Iran. With the toppling of the Shaw and the
establishment of an Islamic theocracy, persecutions began. 2|
||1996-FEB: Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, the UNs Special Rapporteur for
Religious Intolerance, reported that 201 Baha'is had been assassinated and 115
others reported missing and presumed dead since the theocracy was founded.
||1996-APR: The United Nations Commission on Human Rights expressed concern
about the state of religious freedom in that country for members of the Bahá'í and other
||1996-MAY-14: Reuters news service quoted the most senior judge in
Iran, Ayatollah Mohammed Yazdi. He told a group of Shi'ite theologians in Qom
that "religious minorities in Iran enjoy freedom...However, ..Baha'iism is not
a religion but an espionage establishment. Iran will by no means
sacrifice...Islamic rules in order to appease the international bodies." 4|
1996-MAY-15: The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá'ís of the United States stated:
"Since the Islamic regime took power, more than 200 Bahá'ís have been executed on account of
their religion, and thousands have been imprisoned.
Bahá'ís have systematically been denied access to education, jobs and pensions, and both personal and
Bahá'í community properties have been confiscated."
||1999: The U.S. State Department issues an annual report under the
U.S. International Religious Freedom Act. It listed Iran as a "Country of
Particular Concern" (CPC) because of its "particularly egregious violations of
religious freedom." They have repeated this classification annually since that
||2005-DEC-16: The Government of Canada
submitted a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly
expressing "serious concern" over the human rights situation in Iran, and
criticizing the continuing persecution of the Baha'i community in the country.
It was co-sponsored by 46 countries, including Australia, the European Union,
and the U.S. It passed by a vote of 75 to 50. This was the UN's 18th
resolution concerning Iranian human rights. 5|
||2009-FEB-06: Forty two Iranian professionals issued a public
apology for their theocratic government's long history of abusing members of
the Baha'i faith. All live out of the country. 6,7
Their open letter concludes:
We are ashamed that during the last
thirty years, the killing of Baha’is solely on the basis of their
religious beliefs has gained legal status and over two-hundred Baha’is
have been slain on this account;
We are ashamed that a group of intellectuals have
justified coercion against the Baha’i community of Iran;
We are ashamed of our silence that after many decades
of service to Iran, Baha’i retired persons have been deprived of their
right to a pension;
We are ashamed of our silence that on the account of
their fidelity to their religion and truthfulness in stating this
conviction, thousands of Baha’i youth have been barred from education in
universities and other institutions of higher learning in Iran;
We are ashamed that because of their parents’
religious beliefs, Baha’i children are subjected to denigration in schools
and in public.
We are ashamed of our silence over this painful
reality that in our nation, Baha’is are systematically oppressed and
maligned, a number of them are incarcerated because of their religious
convictions, their homes and places of business are attacked and
destroyed, and periodically their burial places are desecrated;
We are ashamed of our silence when confronted with the
long, dark and atrocious record that our laws and legal system have
marginalized and deprived Baha’is of their rights, and the injustice and
harassment of both official and unofficial organs of the government
towards this group of our countrymen;
We are ashamed for all these transgressions and
injustices, and we are ashamed for our silence over these
We, the undersigned, asked you, the Baha’is, to forgive us for the
wrongs committed against the Baha’i community of Iran.
We will no longer be silent when injustice is visited upon you.
We stand by you in achieving all the rights enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of the Human Rights.
Let us join hands in replacing hatred and ignorance with love and
2020-JUN: Comment by the Gatestone Institute:
The Gatestone Institute describes themselves as:
"... a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank is dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report in promoting:
Institutions of Democracy and the Rule of Law;
A free and strong economy
A military capable of ensuring peace at home and in the free world
Ensuring the public stay informed of threats to our individual liberty, sovereignty and free speech.
Denis MacEoin, writing for the Gatestone Institute, said:
"What, one has to ask, does Iran's Islamic regime have to fear from the country's Christians, Baha'is, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, or Jews? Yet its treatment of these minorities is so repressive that it seems not unreasonable to ask if the clerics might be afraid of what they consider challenges to their fantasy of pure Islamic identity."
So why this persecution? Because they represent a challenge to the radical shari'a law doctrines of the clergy, who impose Ayatollah Khomeini's religio-politico system of Velayat-e Faqih (rule by the theocratic Islamic government).
Businesses have been closed without compensation; young Baha'is are banned from entering or remaining in institutes of higher education; "benefits in the pension system" have been denied to older believers ; hundreds have been imprisoned purely on account of their faith; many have been murdered; Baha'i properties have suffered arson attacks, and since 2013, this persecution has increased, not diminished.
I apologize for the formatting problems above. The editor is not cooperating.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Islam and the Baha'i Faith" is a Web site by an individual member of the
Baha'i Faith. It promotes "a better understanding of the relationship between the
Baha'i Faith and Islam, and to dispel some of the misconceptions which may have led to
feelings of mistrust and suspicion." See: http://bci.org/
- "Iran: International Religious Freedom Report 2008," U.S. State Department,
- "FDI denounces persecution of Baha'is," Foundation for Democracy in Iran,
- "Tehran," 1996-MAY-14, at:
- "United Nations again expresses concern over human rights in Iran; a Baha'i
prisoner dies of unknown causes," Baha'i International Community, 2005-DEC, at:
- "We are ashamed," Iranian.com, 2009-FEB-03, at:
- "Iranian professionals post public apology to Baha'is," CNN, 2009-FEB-08,
Denis MacEoin, "Forty Years of Iranian Intolerance," Gatestone Institute, 2019-AUG-07, at: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/
Copyright © 1996 to 2029 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update and review: 2020-JUL-08
Author: B.A. Robinson