Here in Canada, we often pride ourselves in acceptance. Generally, we accept different cultures, different religions, and many of the practices that they take part in. For us, these things come quite naturally. When I walk by a Christian church, for instance, I feel no degree of hostility or unrest. When I drive past a Buddhist temple, I simply admire its cultured appearance. While I am not Christian or Buddhist, I have no inclination to frown upon these traditions, or the people taking part in them. As with many fellow Canadians that I am acquainted with, I believe that people should be able to practice whatever religion they wish, so long as they are not seriously harming anyone.
Unfortunately, this sort of basic acceptance is sorely lacking in many parts of our world. The Baha’is of Iran, along with other religious minorities in the country, are one example of humans suffering from religious intolerance, as described by the Guardian in an article written by Omid Djalili last May (http://bit.ly/1faPo9y).
For more than five long years, seven Baha’i leaders have been imprisoned in Iran for their beliefs. They have been sentenced to twenty years in jail, simply because they are a part of the Baha’i Faith. Worse, this case is only one of many in regards to Baha’i mistreatment; the Baha’i community as a whole has suffered extreme persecution in Iran. They have dealt with all sorts of harassment in their day-to-day lives. They have been denied basic rights to things such as business and education. Many have even been tortured and killed. So, for the Baha’is, the imprisonment of these seven leaders is nothing new. It is, however, a most heinous crime, and must be corrected.
In this day and age, most of us understand that religious intolerance is something that we must be rid of. This is why we have countries sign treaties to ensure that human rights are not violated. In the case of Iran, it is clear that these agreements are being ignored. If we are to stop the persecution, it is essential that increasing pressure be placed on the government of Iran to make amends. And while many are rising to do so, it is not enough. More of us need to band together if these violations are to come to an end.
Five years in jail for no true reason is certainly five years too many. It is time that these seven Baha’i leaders are released, and furthermore, it is time for the religious minorities of Iran to be freed of their oppression.