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Iranian Security Agents Raid Homes Of Dozens Of Baha'i; 14 Arrested

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda September 01, 2022

Iranian Security Agents Raid Homes Of Dozens Of Baha'i; 14 Arrested

Iranian security agents have raided the homes of dozens of Baha'i citizens in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran, arresting 14 of them.

According to the Iran Human Rights news agency, the raids took place in the cities of Sari and Qaemshahr on August 31. The 14 people were arrested after their houses were searched, with agents confiscating some of their belongings, including mobile phones and religious textbooks.

All of them were transferred afterward to the Sari Intelligence Department for interrogation.

At the same time, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, a court in southern Iranian city of Shiraz sentenced 25 followers of the Baha'i faith to prison terms ranging from two to five years. The charges included "holding promotional and educational meetings and classes with the presence of Muslim people and promoting Baha'i beliefs" in what the religion's leaders say is another sign of the persecution they face.

In the verdict issued against the 25 Baha'i followers, the court said their activities are "completely organizational and propaganda and in line with the goals and documents of the Bayt al-Adl based in Israel and independent of personal beliefs."

Bayt al-Adl (Universal House of Justice), located in the Israeli city of Haifa, is the nine-member supreme ruling body of the Baha'i faith.

In an interview with Radio Farda, Simin Fahandej, the spokeswoman for the Worldwide Baha'i Community in Geneva, said the Iranian government is increasing pressure on Baha'is, including the issuance of stiff prison sentences against them, as part of a "new wave of persecution."

Baha'is -- who number some 300,000 in Iran and have an estimated 5 million followers worldwide -- say they face systematic persecution in Iran, where their faith is not officially recognized in the constitution.

On several occasions, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called the Baha'i faith a cult and in a religious fatwa issued in 2018 forbade contact, including business dealings, with followers of the faith.

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, hundreds of Baha'is have been arrested and jailed for their beliefs. At least 200 have been executed or were arrested and never heard from again.

Thousands more have been banned from receiving higher education or had their property confiscated, while vandals often desecrate Baha'i cemeteries.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-bahai- raids-arrests-/32014289.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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