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June 5, 2001

Hoveyda not Bahai

The question of Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda's religious affiliation pops up from time to time. Hoveyda's father came from a Bahai family. But due to the Bahai principle of non-interference in partisanship and divisive politics, he was excluded from the Bahai community, because of his political activities.

Hoveyda himself was never a Bahai. It is a Bahai belief that one has to independantly believe and accept the religion; it is not automatically passed on and childern from Bahai families have to independantly accept and declare themselves as Bahais. Hoveyda never declared himself to be Bahai, nor was he known to the Bahais as one.

When he became Prime Minister in 1965 some of his political opponents accused him of being a Bahai. In order to disprove this he initiated a package of anti-Bahai laws and measures, including the introduction of special taxes on Bahai property and the dismissal of numerous Bahais from the civil service.

Some may remember civil service employment notices' eligibility column that used to state applicants must belong to one of Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian or Mulsim religions, therefore excluding the largest of Iran's religious minorities.

Faryar Mansuri

©Copyright 2001, The Iranian

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