Oppression of Baha’i Faith in Iran
Baha’i Faith is a monotheistic religions movement which emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind. Recently an article “‘To Light a Candle’ shines light on Baha’i Faith in Iran” was published by Tk Barger in The Blade newspaper, on March 7, 2015 (http://www.toledoblade.com/Religion/2015/03/07/To-Light-a-Candle-shines-light-on-Baha-i-Faith-in-Iran.html). The article talks about a documentary, ‘To Light a candle’ by an award winning filmmaker and journalist, Maziar Bahari. The documentary highlights the living conditions of the Baha’i faith people in Iran and how they are treated like a ‘second or third class citizens’ by the Iranian government and the society. According to another article published in Huffington Post about the documentary, ‘To light a Candle’ states:
‘…is a turning point in addressing the circumstance of Baha’is in Iran. It unveils decades of repression, persecution and intimidation against a peaceful community of Iranians whose lives have been dramatically undermined by religious intolerance by the Iranian ruling class.’ (http://huff.to/1xU3dW6)
Baha’i faith is one of the youngest and largest new religious movements in Iran, founded in 1844 by Baha’u’llah. They see their founder as a divine messenger in a line that includes the major figures of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. Between 1979 and 1987 more than 200 Baha’is were executed, after the Islamic revolution, and over 100 Baha’is are currently imprisoned because of their faith. There are three core principles that establish the doctrine of Baha’i faith: the unity of God; the unity of religion; and the unity of humanity. According to the article individuals belonging to Baha’i faith are not provided with equal opportunities for higher education. Due to which in 1987 Bah’ai Institute for Higher Education, an underground university emerged holding classes online or in people’s home (http://educationisnotacrime.me/about). Pastor Ed Heilman, a Baha’i faith spokesperson said, “When the universities were purged in 1980, many people were removed from the universities… The difference between liberal Muslims or secular Muslims and Baha’is is that Baha’is were removed completely. Just the very fact that they were Baha’is was enough to say, ‘You’re out.’” Due to this, an awareness campaign was launched globally, ‘Education is not a Crime’. As a result of which more than 100 post-secondary institutions outside of Iran, started recognizing and accepting the educational credentials from the Bah’ai Institution for Higher Education. The article mostly talks about the documentary, that how the Iranian government tries to deprive Baha’is from having proper education.
According to the UN resolution ‘Education for All’, education is a basis necessity or right of every individual and so do Baha’is people. Looking at the situation in Iran, we need to be critical at the actions of Iranian society and government rather than the religion. As religion is just a weapon being misused by individuals, in the same way as it is used to repress women. I believe it would be wrong to blame Islam for this oppression of Baha’I faith, as individuals are using it for their own personal interest. (MAAM)