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    Bahais Say Iranian Death Sentences Confirmed

    05:48 p.m Sep 29, 1998 Eastern

    PARIS, Sept 29 (Reuters) - French members of the Bahai faith said on Tuesday they feared two more of their co-religionists might be about to be executed in Iran.

    Even as the free world rejoices at Iran's initiative towards Salman Rushdie, the Bahais of France are shattered to learn tonight of the confirmation of the death sentence of two Bahais imprisoned for a year in Mashad prison,'' they said in a statement said.

    The two were identified as Sirus Zabihi-Muqaddam and Hedayat Kashefi Najafabadi and were reported to have been arrested in October 1997 for having violated a ban on their holding meetings about family life, the statement added.

    The Bahai faith, created in mostly Moslem Iran, is considered heresy by Islamic fundamentalists.

    There was strong international reaction when the French Bahais revealed in July the hanging in Iran of Ruhu'llah Rawhani, a 52-year-old father of four, charged with converting a Moslem to the Bahai religion.

    His was said to have been was the first execution of a Bahai by Iran since 1992.

    Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, protested against the execution and urged Tehran not to execute three other Bahais including the two mentioned in Paris on Tuesday.

    The United States also condemned the July executions.

    Bahais abroad have said more than 200 members of their faith have been executed in Iran for their religious beliefs since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

    The Bahai faith originated in Iran 150 years ago. It claims six million members worldwide, including 350,000 in Iran where it is officially considered a misleading and wayward sect.

    Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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