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IRAN: A machinery of hate: increasing propaganda raises concern for Baha’is

A machinery of hate: increasing propaganda raises concern for Baha’is

Bahá’í International Community (08.07.2021) – https://bit.ly/36rYLSO – The Baha’i International Community is calling for the Iranian government to be held accountable for its campaign of hate speech against the Baha’is in Iran. In recent months, the four-decades long state-sponsored campaign of hate speech and propaganda has reached new levels, increasing in both sophistication and scale. This has provoked fresh concerns for the rights of the Baha’is in Iran, as history shows that flagrant violations of human rights often take place in a climate of hate and disinformation.

The Baha’i International Community has been tracking anti-Baha’i propaganda in Iran over the decades and has, in recent months, witnessed an expansion in the machinery of hateful propaganda targeting the Baha’is. The unfolding strategy to demonize the Baha’i community is reflected in a growing and coordinated network of hundreds of websites, Instagram accounts, Telegram channels and Clubhouse rooms, with content such as “Baha’is are unclean and enemies of your religion”, “Associating with Baha’is is banned”, “Purchasing any goods from a Baha’i store is forbidden”, as well as “The modern ‘Human Rights’ is a big lie,” and many others. These platforms have been producing hundreds of thousands of pieces of disinformation reaching millions of Iranians. A BIC publication, “Inciting Hatred,” offers a more detailed analysis of this 40-year media campaign against the Baha’is.

The websites and social media channels are compounded by videosprint newspaper articles and other written mediabooksseminarsexhibitionsgraffiti and fatwas from both official outlets and others sponsored by the government but purporting to be independent.

“History is replete with the victims of grievous crimes incited by hate speech,” says Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva. “We are concerned that the increasing spread of disinformation targeting the Baha’is may signal a severe increase in the persecution meted out against them.”

Spreading falsehoods has been a central weapon in the Iranian government’s assault against the Baha’is since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The goal is to demonize the Baha’is and to try to provoke public hatred for the community, thus justifying crimes against them, a very common tactic used by oppressive governments throughout history.

The Iranian government does not recognize Baha’is as a religious minority and, as such, Baha’is have neither the right to legally appeal against these statements nor are they permitted to respond and present their own case to their fellow Iranians.

António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, in his 2019 Plan of Action to Combat Hate Speech(link is external), says that “[h]ate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace. As a matter of principle, the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn. Silence can signal indifference to bigotry and intolerance, even as a situation escalates and the vulnerable become victims.”

Incitement to hatred is prohibited under international treaties that Iran itself has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“Iran has consistently ignored its international obligations, and it is time that it is held to account for inciting hatred and committing countless human rights violations against the Baha’is with impunity.” says Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s Principal Representative to the United Nations. “Hate crimes always begin with words. Let us not allow history to repeat itself.”

Background

  • The Baha’is, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, have been systematically persecuted by the Iranian government since the Islamic Revolution. More than 200 Baha’is were executed in the 1980s; today, they are denied public sector jobs, higher education, their livelihoods are often disrupted, their cemeteries desecrated, and they are vilified in state and semi-official media as well as from the pulpit and in schools and other educational institutions.

 

 

Further reading about FORB in Iran on HRWF website





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IRAN’s persecution of Baha’is: Muslim leaders and gov’ts abroad denounce

Baha’i International Community (18.02.2021) – https://bit.ly/37D6oqC – Leading Muslims, government officials, and parliamentarians around the world have joined a growing outcry at the unjust confiscation of properties owned by Baha’is in the farming village of Ivel in Iran. The ruling to allow Iranian authorities to confiscate the properties, clearly motivated by religious prejudice, was recently upheld in an appeals court and has left dozens of families internally displaced and economically impoverished.

The American Islamic Congress(link is external), the Canadian Council of Imams(link is external), Chair of the Virtues Ethics Foundation and one of the leading Islamic scholars in the United Kingdom Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra(link is external)the All India Tanzeem Falahul Muslemin(link is external), and the All India Saifi Association(link is external) have all issued statements in support of the Baha’is in Ivel, expressing grave concern about the confiscation of the properties.

“We are calling for the Higher court in Mazandaran and all responsible personnel to take action and to help the Baha’i community in Ivel get back their properties,” reads the statement from the American Islamic Congress. Echoing these sentiments, the Canadian Council of Imams writes, “We are deeply concerned by the ruling issued by an Iranian Court to confiscate the properties of 27 Baha’is in the farming village of Ivel.” Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the United Kingdom specifically called upon Iran’s Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, “to address this injustice”, adding that “Islam does not permit a government to confiscate land from citizens just because they follow a different religion”.

“The sight of Muslim leaders around the world coming to the aid of their Baha’i friends in Iran in an extraordinary wave of support is a powerful signal to the Islamic Republic that their co-religionists around the world condemn their actions,” says Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva. “Statements of support from leading Muslims for the Baha’is in Ivel, who have lived there for more than 150 years with their Muslim neighbours, show that the Iranian government’s invocation of Islamic law is a thin veil covering its persecution of the Baha’is.” Ms. Ala’i added.

In a further sign of international support for the Baha’is in Iran, government officials around the world have condemned the Iranian court decision. The Canadian Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, says(link is external) his government is concerned by the ruling, urging Iran to “eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief.” The call has been echoed by officials in Germany(link is external), the Netherlands(link is external), Sweden(link is external), the United Kingdom(link is external), Brazil(link is external), the United States(link is external), the European Parliament and the United Nations(link is external). In Sweden, 12 members of parliament and elected representatives have also strongly called on Iran(link is external) to return the lands of the Baha’is of Ivel.

“Stop confiscating Baha’i properties in the village of Ivel,” states Jos Douma(link is external), the Netherlands’ Special Envoy for Religion or Belief. “And—at last—recognize Baha’i[s] as a religious community.” The German Federal Government Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion, Markus Grübel, also called(link is external) for Iran to recognize the Baha’is as a religious community in the country and to end the “discrimination and persecution of Baha’i communities.”

South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre, an organization known for its human rights work during apartheid, has also issued a letter(link is external) condemning the property confiscations.

Confiscation of Baha’i-owned properties in Ivel began in the early years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. In 2010, properties belonging to some 50 Baha’is in Ivel were burned and demolished, driving them away from their ancestral farms and homes.

The Baha’is in Ivel have repeatedly appealed for their rights in the past, filing complaints with the authorities at all levels and taking legal action to reclaim their lands, to no avail.

“The world is watching and is appalled by the Iranian government’s blatant injustices towards the Baha’i community,” says Ms. Ala’i. “The innocence of the Baha’is is more evident than ever to the international community, and Iran is being held accountable for the gross injustices it has inflicted on the Baha’i community in Iran. The government must take the necessary steps to not only return the lands to the Baha’is in Ivel but to end the systematic persecution of the Baha’is throughout the entire country once and for all.”

Background

  • The fresh support comes after a former Canadian prime minister and more than 50 others in Canada’s legal community signed an open letter to the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, expressing “deep concern” over the confiscations.
  • The ruling to confiscate the properties was made in a Special Court for Article 49 of the Iranian Constitution, which allows the Iranian government to seize any properties in the country. Article 49 states that the “ruling must be carried out by the government after investigation, research and proof through Islamic law.”
  • However, despite the requirements of law, numerous court rulingsand official documents reveal the discriminatory motives behind the confiscations. The seizure of properties is part of Iran’s systematic persecution of the Baha’is, reported extensively by the United Nations.
  • In October 2020, despite many efforts by the Baha’is—whose lawyers were denied the chance to see files related to their case, to prepare their defense—an appeals court upheld the ruling by the Special Court. The ruling allowed the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, a foundation under Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to sell the lands owned by the Baha’is.
  • Confiscation of Baha’i properties—holy places as well as individual properties—has been part of Iran’s systematic campaign of economic, cultural and social persecution against the Baha’is. It has been part of a four-decades long effort to destroy the Baha’i community as a viable entity in the country.
  • Confiscation of Baha’i-owned properties in Ivel began in the early years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. Baha’is were also denied access to health clinics and other institutions, which they had helped to establish; teachers found various means to persecute Baha’i pupils, including by failing them in their exams; the 100-year old Baha’i cemetery in the village was confiscated and sold for conversion into residential property; and in 1983, more than 130 Baha’is were locked in a local mosque, held captive for three days without food and water, and pressured to recant their faith.

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