Rafed English

Bahā'is in Iran

Adapted from: "Apostasy in Islam" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi"

I have noticed tempers flaring up on both sides of debate in how the Islamic Republic of Iran is dealing with the Bahā'is in that country. I would just like to draw the attention of our brothers that if a Bahā'i is prosecuted in Iran, it does not automatically follow that it is because he or she is a Bahā'i. Just as a Bahā'i might be tried for a criminal offence according to Iranian laws similarly a Sh`iah or a Sunni Iranian might also be tried and prosecuted. The western powers have some cards up their sleeves that are very readily used against any country that they do not like--cards of human rights, democracy, and minority rights.

Take, for example, the case of the Branch Davidian cult and its leader David Koresh in Waco, Texas. It was a minority religious group. The US government forces put them under siege for 51 days, and finally, on August 17, 1993, their whole compound was burnt down; 95 lives were lost. The US government presented it simply as a "law and order" issue: that a group had piled up arms and ammunitions illegally, and, therefore, the government was justified in taking the extreme action.

The US public as well as the international community --with all its propaganda apparatus of human rights, democracy and minority rights-- readily accepted that justification. Now if this same case had taken place in Iran with some Bahā'is or in Egypt with some Coptic Christians --that a minority religious group committed illegal action and the government took appropriate action to enforce its laws-- I am absolutely certain that the so-called international community and its media, the UNO, and the human rights organizations would have portrayed the issue as a Muslim country persecuting its non-Muslim minority!

What I mean to say is that if you hear that a member of a minority has been prosecuted in Iran, it does not automatically mean that it is because he is a non-Muslim. It could be that he has committed a crime and has therefore been convicted of that crime. Many groups try to gain political mileage out of such cases; they would exploit it and present it as a violation of human/minority rights.

Another example where such issues are used to gain sympathy in the west is the issue of hijāb in Iran. There are many Iranians in Canada who do not have valid grounds for getting refugee status; but they know the political climate of this country and therefore exploit it by saying, if the person happens to be a woman, that "I was put in jail because I refused to put on the hijāb." They are not truly against the Iranian government; but they know that by making such statements, they will get the refugee status more easily.

One cannot pass judgment on such reports without knowing all the circumstances, especially when the report comes from biased sources.

"O you who believe! If a sinful person (read: unreliable/biased source) comes to you with a news, then investigate; otherwise you will harm (at the least, intellectually) a people because of your ignorance, and then feel regretful for what you did." (49:6)


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