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Inside Oakland

Bahá'í Followers Practice Their Religion Freely in Oakland

By Angela Buenning

Keivan Hedayat gathers every other week with other members of the Bahá'í religion in Oakland. They come together in a member's home overlooking Lake Merritt to pray, sing, eat and discuss scriptures.

bahman.jpg (125305 bytes)Hedayat, a 65-year-old Oakland resident, doesn't have to keep his attendance at these meetings a secret, and he doesn't fear retribution for his religious identity. But thousands of miles away in Tehran, Iran, his family does.

The Bahá'í faith, an independent religion founded in present-day Iran 150 years ago, is viewed as a threat to Islam by many Muslims. According to the Bahá'í, more than 200 of their members have been killed in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Hundreds more have been imprisoned, and tens of thousands have been deprived of jobs, pensions and businesses.

“Everything has to be in secret,” said Hedayat of the precautions his family takes with their religious practices in Iran. “Just a few months ago they killed two more Bahá'ís in Iran.”

©Copyright 2003, Inside Oakland (Berkeley, CA, USA)

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