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March 17, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran

Iran arrested seven leaders of the religious Baha’i community last year, charging them with espionage and alleging that the five men and two women are spies for Israel. Baha’i headquarters are located in Israel.

Iranian leaders view the religion as heresy and it has been banned since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Many followers of the Baha’i faith in Iran have been arrested, imprisoned or executed.

The Baha’i faith is a monotheistic religion with origins in 19th-century Iran. Baha’is are considered Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, with about 300,000 members.

The U.S. has condemned Iran for its persecution of the Baha’is, calling the detainment of religious leaders “baseless.”

Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show explored the background and history of the Baha’i faith, religious persecution in Iran and the arrest and forthcoming trial of the seven Baha’i leaders.

Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests:

Dwight Bashir is a senior advisor for the Middle East at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Mr. Bashir is a specialist in ethnic and religious conflict and preventive diplomacy. He has traveled widely in Europe, the Middle East and West Africa and has lectured and published on a wide array of topics in international affairs, including human rights, religious extremism and U.S. foreign policy.

Kit Bigelow is the director of external affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the U.S. Since 1985, she has represented the National Spiritual Assembly in the promotion and protection of human rights, including religious freedom, the rights of women, U.S. ratification of United Nations human rights treaties and the elimination of racism. She advocates on these issues at the White House, the State Department, the Congress and the U.N. She has testified before Congress on the oppression of the Bahá’ís in Iran and of Egypt.

Trita Parsi is the founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on U.S.-Iranian relations, Iranian politics and the balance of power in the Middle East. He is the author of “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States” and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute. He was born in Iran and has followed Middle East politics through work in the field and experience on Capitol Hill and at the United Nations.


Credits:
Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti and Katie Combs

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Comments

23 comments

#23

I ‘dont knw who “Justice I but it significant that he does no reveal his name. I have been a registered Baha’I and worked at U.S. Baha’i Center in Wilmette Il. I am precluded from my Baha’i convictions prevent me from saying what I think of him but I would note that we have been attacked by various parties since the faith was established and not only on Iran. Reliable information is available from the National Baha’i Center, Wilmette, Il.

#22

you Bahia’s think yourself as Baha’i we (Christians, Muslims, Buda …..) think ourselves as human brings. I am not Muslim, but I was with a Baha’i man who lives in Alto Loma, Ca, you Bahia’s do everything behind doors but when it comes to public and feast you put such a face like you are an angel. Gossiping, having children with non Baha’i, steal money from government and from women, drink alcohol and so many other …………

#21

comments back to Fariborz, please you have Israel behind you, poor all non bahai’i in iran are dying just to have simple life, We ARE SO SICK OF YOU BAHAI;I please finish this cult. You guys are have children with non Bahia, drink with non Bahai, and the you go to your feast and act like you are an angel. WE ARE TIRED OF YOUR CULT> Thanks.

#20

this comments regards to all women, please make reserarch abouth this cult before getting involvesd with this cult. I gave you all an example, I wae was icnvolved with a bahai name is Saeed he is elected member of Rancho cugomongo bahai member. this man has a son and grand daugther whi he denies fathering this chi chils ( the child is 26 years old ). he denied to have this child, he is a con man. his brother in law whoes is related to Simin Enayati ha s a child to whom he never aknowledge. My point these Bahia keep havening children without marriage to non bahai and run away from their resposibilities. PLEAE SO DEEP RESERARCH BEFORE GETTING INVOLVED WITH THIS CULT. Tataian Armal

#19

What I experience with Baha’i community for past 25 years, I can say I have not seen such any other faith that so prejudice community. Most of people who came from Iran hold so much hate towards other faiths that is un describable. I’ll give you am example, a Bahai man thinks is OK to have sex with non Bahai, but thinks it is a sin to have sex with a Bahia women. I am in process of writing a memo about this so called faith. May GOD show the right path to such disturbed group, because these men are destroying many number of women under GOD’s name. Because bahai community are so disturbe to have bahai member that they forget what GOD is about. Hey BAHAI don’t forget it is not about number of members, it is about GOD.

#18

[…] For more, view our Voices of Iran extended coverage page and listen to our online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran. […]

#17

[…] For more, view our Voices of Iran extended coverage page and listen to our online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran. […]

#16

[…] Tune in: Online radio show on Baha’i faith and modern Iran […]

#15

#5, that is a big part of it, yes. The upshot of the theological difference is that if Muslims were to start to believe in the Bab and Baha’u’llah as being the archetypal “return” of those figures, they would give up feeding and clothing the mullahs, and allowing them to tell them how to think and walk and talk. Clergy never want to give up anything. History repeats itself.

#14

Thank you very much for this great and informative show.

#13

The Internet has afforded us a wonderful opportunity; and it appears people are now joining together in unity to assist in the protection of Human Rights world wide. It is important to note that the Bahá’í Faith has within it a federated yet democratic world government, providing Rights and sovereignty to all people. Bahá’u’lláh writes, “O Son of Spirit!, The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee….” And He makes His first counsel this: “O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess and pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.” What does one have to fear from someone who follows such great principles? If anything, it would have to be the gathering of others into such a fine precept.

#12

The Internet has afforded us a wonderful opportunity; and it appears peope are now joining ogether in unity to assist in the portection of Human Rights world wide. It is important to note that the Bahá’í Faith has within it a federated yet democratic world government, providing Rights and sovereignty to all people. Bahá’u’lláh writes, “O Son of Spirit!, The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee….” ANd He makes His first counsel this: “O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess and pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.” What does one have to fear from someone who follows such great principles? If anything, it would have to be the gathering of others into such a fine precept.

#11

We should ask which religion(s) glitter(s) the most like gold beneath the mere physical light of the Sun since all religion(s) these days seem to be equally acceptable.
This process seems a little like sampling various dishes going ’round the table: many versions of religions (according to variations of taste) may please the palate but they are far from being unifiably holy.

#10

Very important is identification of Baha’i’s in the census which has three religions and only three which can be noted. They are Moslem, Christian, and the Jewish Faith. The omission of the Baha’i Faith is pivotal and forces Baha’is to identify themselves since the observance of their Faith doesn’t allow Baha’is to obtain Iranian citizenship in order to obtain any official papers, such as passports or school admission or registration (Baha’is were even prevented from conducting their own schools in private homes. Baha’i sacred sites, cementaries and other holy observances are desegrated and/or banned. As heretics, their situation is more grave, than that of Coptic Christians, Jews, that are ‘people of the book'(the Bible)- because they are decendents of Adam, as is Mohammad and Zorastrians are of the early Persians and preceed Mohammad, while Sufi’s are a mystical order branched off the Moslem Faith. Baha’is are considered a cult of the Moslem Faith, therefore heretical and not a true religion and a threat.
It is true that the center of the Baha’i Faith was establised in what is now Israel, because over two hundred years ago the prophet of the Faith was banihed to the prison colony of Akka (then an area of Syria, now off the coast of Israel’s main port of Haiffa where Mt Carmel has the Faith’s Center. As he was of high rank, Iran couldn’t just kill him so they banised him to Turkey – further and further until by ship to Akka. It must be understood the Baha’i Faith requies it’s followers to be law abiding to their respective civil authorities and to achieve outstanding accomplisments for their socities. Thus, Iran’s actions are unwarranted and exhibits extreme Theist persecution, majority ignorance and collective fear that has come down and been promoted since the Prophet of the Baha’i Faith and the Bab (who foretold the coming of the ‘Promised One’) were martyered for their beliefs and influence. Wasn’t this the fate of Christ also?

#9

Other than religious diferences with shariéh of Islam is mathematical believe of aligorical number 1 and 9 (19)in whole related to the birth of this believe system .

#8

Regarding Sue Tate’s request for comment on item #2 below: Baha’u’llah not only taught that all religions came from the one single God, but that the references that they all contain to the coming of a “Promised One” were not intended to be references to many different Promised Ones, but rather to the appearance of a single One who fulfills all of the promises of all of the religions of the past. Baha’u’llah claimed to be the fulfillment of these promises. Applied to Shi’ih Islam, this takes the form that Mr. Townsend noted.

In becoming a Baha’i, one does not give up belief in the Messengers of the past–one only enlarges the circle of them. Thus, as a former Christian myself, I still believe in Jesus, Moses and Abraham, but now I also believe in Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster and Muhammad, as well as, of course, the Bab and Baha’u’llah. Historically, it tends to be easier to move toward greater inclusiveness. For a Muslim to become a Baha’i, he does not need to deny the truth of Muhammad—rather, he affirms it. But for a Muslim to become a Christian or a Jew, he must deny the truth of Muhammad. In short, it is theologically easier to move forward than to move backward. Therefore, many more Muslims have become Baha’is than have become Christians or Jews. In this regard, the Islamic leaders in Iran no doubt view the Baha’i Faith as more threatening than either Christianity or Judaism.

Sadly, the Islamic religious authorities ignore the fact that there are millions of people around the world from non-Islamic backgrounds who have become Baha’is and in doing so, now recognize the truth of Muhammad and the Koran. The Baha’i Faith has spread into corners of the world where Islam has never been able to reach, and has brought the knowledge of and respect for Islam to these people, myself included.

#7

I hope the clouds od enemity and misunderstanding will soon be disoerssed and Iranian people, regardless their creed, their ethnic group or any other differences will live in peace and harmony

#6

It was a good program. One thing that was not mentioned, though, was that during the 1980’s over 200 Baha’is were killed by the Iranian leaders, using similarly trumped-up charges. So the threat is very real. The death toll would have undoubtedly been much higher were it not for the worldwide publicity that this created. Shining the light of publicity into such areas is one of the few means available for reducing the persecutions. For this, I am very thankful to WorldFocus and similar news organization, who will not let the issue go unreported.

#5

Please comment on the validity of comment #2 above–this seems to be the crux of the matter if is true, but has not been addressed on the radio broadcast.

#4

This was a great piece. I’m so impressed with the balance of Baha’i and political topics, and the connections drawn to other oppressed groups.

#3

[…] Iranian leaders view the Baha’i religion as heresy and has banned it since 1979. A discussion with three experts on the subject (Dwight Bashir, Kit Bigelow, and Trita Parsi) took place on March 17, you can listen to it now. […]

#2

What was not really dealt with is that the expectation of the Shi’ih is that the !2th Imam would return (as John the Baptist was the metaphysical return of Elijah) and this would soon be followed by the similar return of the 3rd Imam Husayn. Baha’is say this has happened in the Advent of the Bab and Baha’u’llah. The Shi’ih are now in the position of Jews after Jesus the Messiah. This is the theological crux of the matter.

#1

I am glad that you brough truth out for the awarenace of the people of the world that Baha,i rights has been violated . Thanks.

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