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UPI October 1 1998 Report on Baha'is in Iran

TORONTO, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Iranian authorities are reported to have arrested at least 27 Bahais, in the latest crackdown against the largest religious minority group in that country.

Gerald Filson, a spokesman for the Bahai Community of Canada, says word of the crackdown filtered down today to members of the community in other parts of the Middle East.

Details of the arrests were not immediately available, but the report comes after an Islamic court in Iran sentenced two more Bahais to death this week, after finding them guilty of converting a Muslim woman to the Bahai faith.

The woman has denied the allegation, saying she was brought up as a Bahai.

The latest death sentences, handed down in Mashad, some 500 miles (800 km) east of Tehran, brings to six the total number of Bahais facing execution in Iran.

On July 21, Iranian religious authorities executed Bahai prisoner Ruhollah Rowhani, after an Islamic court found him guilty of converting the same woman to the Bahai faith.

The Supreme Court of Iran had refused to endorse the sentence, but Rowhani was hanged anyway.

There are some 300,000 Bahais in Iran, making them the largest religious minority in the Islamic state, which does not officially recognize them as a minority group.

©Copyright 1998, UPI

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