At the end of November a searching article by Mohammad Heidari, originating with the BBC, appeared in translation on Iran Press Watch. It concerns the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.
The “Baha’i problem” in Iran is one of the central predicaments for us. Baha’is are “the true Other ” to majority Shi’ites; how we deal with them is to examine the merits of our society, through the transition from tyranny and oppression and out of darkness. In Iran, we face discrimination, injustice, and various atrocities, but there is something distinctive about the “plight of Baha’is” that is related to our “modality of encountering others”.
On the one hand, we have been silent in the face of the injustices Baha’is have faced. On the other, we do not express the solidarity and compassion we need to have with this oppressed group. Silence and collective consensus turn suppression of Baha’is in Iran into “collective guilt”. A similar situation does not exist for any other oppression. That is why we need an alternative way to confront this problem. It is also one of the complexities of our society that must be dealt with.
Babis, Azalis and Baha’is are those Shi’ites who left Islam in its Shi’ite definition and became believers in separate religions. There are no signs of Babis or Azalis any more, but Baha’is are still a large group. According to the ruling of religious scholars, “exit from Islam” leads to apostasy. Oppression against Baha’is and silence in the face of this oppression is rooted in this inward religious approach. Though Baha’is today, unlike their predecessors, are not Muslims and have not “exited” Islam, the same anger and rancor is expressed toward them. In the religion of the ruling majority, leaving their faith deserves punishment, and our society accepts it.
The Shi’ite majority in Iran considers the Baha’i minority to be frightening, mysterious and unknown, and their religion to be false. Hence, the true “Other” for the Shi’ite majority has been Baha’is. Therefore examining the tolerance of the majority should not be measured against other minorities, but against Baha’is.
Suppression of Baha’is in Iran is ongoing repression: vast, boundless, and epidemic. It is ongoing because it has never stopped, not only in the decades after the revolution in 1979, but even before that: it has remained stable for the past hundred and fifty years. It is widespread, as it is applied across the country; from a small village in Mazandaran it has captured the big cities and the capital of Iran. It is boundless, as it includes discrimination, exclusion, displacement, exile, imprisonment, torture and murder. It is all-consuming, because this repression, regardless of Baha’i activities, covers them all. In fact, their crime is to be Baha’is – nothing else.