Religion in Iran: Rouhani Attacks Non-Muslims, Bahá’í Religious Group Protests Discrimination Laws
Iran’s largest non-Muslim group has released a 122-page report detailing President Hassan Rouhani’s failed efforts to end religious discrimination in the country. The Bahá’í International Community said Tuesday Rouhani’s government has stepped-up its “campaign to incite hatred against Bahá’ís” by disseminating more than 20,000 pieces of anti-Baha’i propaganda in the Iranian media since he was elected in August 2013.
At least 151 Bahá’ís have been arrested since Rouhani assumed power and at least 388 incidents of economic discrimination have been documented, ranging from threats and intimidation to shop closings. Thousands of Bahá’ís have been blocked from attending universities and 28 followers have been expelled, the report also said. Iran is home to around 300,000 Bahá’ís.
Instead of keeping its promises to end religious discrimination, Rouhani’s government “has shifted its strategy of oppression, moving away from arrests and imprisonments to more easily obscured measures such as economic and educational exclusion,” the report added.
“Taken altogether, what we have seen is an overall shift in tactics by the Iranian government, apparently as part of an attempt to conceal from the international community its ongoing efforts to destroy the Bahá’í community as a viable entity,” Bani Dugal, the Bahá’í chief U.N. representative, said.
Iran has banned the Bahá’í religion, which was founded in 1844 by Persian nobleman Bahá’u’lláh, considered a prophet by followers. Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, authorities have executed more than 200 Bahá’í leaders. More than 10,000 have been dismissed from government or university jobs, according to a 2015 USCIRF report. In 2008, seven religious leaders were arrested on charges of espionage and “spreading propaganda against the regime,” and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In 2013, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa, or religious edict, urging Iranians to avoid all dealings with Bahá’ís.
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