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Abstract:
Excerpts from the State Department's annual compilation of Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on discrimination against the Baha'i Faith and persecution of its adherents in twenty countries.
Notes:
See also Human Rights Watch World Reports, 1989-2012 (offsite).

References to the Bahá'í Faith in the U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

by United States Department of State

compiled by Ralph D. Wagner.
1991-2001

1. Introduction, by Ralph Wagner

The Department of State currently publishes two annual compilations on human rights in individual foreign countries:

  • Country Reports on Human Rights Practices covers events in the calendar year and appears in February of the following year. These are available from the State Department websites via the following links: 1999-2001 [www.state.gov] and 1993-98 [www.state.gov]. Earlier editions of Country Reports on Human Rights Practices back to 1978 are available in larger American libraries, especially those that are depositories for Federal Government publications. Future editions of this synopsis will extend coverage back until all are covered.
  • Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom covers the period from July to June and is published in September of the year of the report. This is available for the years 1999-2000 [www.state.gov].
Both are derived from reports by American diplomats, United Nations observers, and private human-rights groups. They are surprisingly objective, including sharp criticisms of many allies of the US. This synopsis includes references to the Bahá'í Faith in Human Rights Practices from 1991 to 2001 and International Religious Freedom from 1999 (the first year of publication) to 2001.

Not all of the countries covered restrict the practice of the Bahá'í Faith. Some reports note that the Bahá'ís enjoy religious freedom, while others provide information on the size, demography, or activities of the Bahá'í communities. Reports that simply note the presence of Bahá'ís have not been quoted, since this is now true of nearly all countries. Not all countries that restrict the practice of the Bahá'í Faith are listed here. The reports on Saudi Arabia contain a flat statement that "Freedom of religion does not exist." In some other Muslim countries there seems to be an understanding that the Bahá'ís will not be disturbed if they keep their activities private.

When identical or nearly identical text appears in more than one report, I have included the most recent version, with a few bracketed addenda noting important differences. The topical headings, which do not necessarily correspond to the headings in the reports, are:

  • Freedom of Religion: A general statement on freedom of religion to establish the context, as well as any general statements on violations of the Bahá'ís' freedom of religion.
  • Bahá'í Community: Comments on the size, demography, or activities of the Bahá'í community.
  • Trials, Imprisonment: In the case of Iran, this has been subdivided into particular cases.
  • Education: Policies affecting access to education or discrimination in schools.
  • Employment: Discrimination in public or private employment.
  • Travel: Policies affecting freedom of travel within the country, availability of passports, or emigration.
  • Social Attitudes: Attitudes of the broad public, rather than government action.
  • US Government Policy: Official statements, discussions with foreign governments, or contacts between US diplomats and the Bahá'í community.

2. Index by Country

Albania
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahrain
Barbados
Bolivia
Botswana
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Cameroon
Chad
Costa Rica
Cuba
Cyprus
Djibouti
Egypt
Equatorial Guinea
Ghana
Greece
Guinea
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Iran
Israel
Jordan
Kazakhstan
Kuwait
Laos
Lebanon
Libya
Liechtenstein
Mali
Moldova
Mongolia
Morocco
Mozambique
New Zealand
Niger
Oman
Pakistan
Romania
Saudi Arabia
Seychelles
Spain
Swaziland
Tajikistan
Tonga
Tunisia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
USSR
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uzbekistan
Vietnam
Yemen
Key:
  • HRP = "Human Rights Practices"
  • IRF = "International Religious Freedom"

ALBANIA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1998-2000
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice. According to the new Constitution, the state has no official religion, and all religions are equal. The majority of citizens are secular in orientation after decades of rigidly enforced atheism under the communist regime, which ended in 1990.

Foreign clergy, including Muslim clerics, Christian and Bahá'í missionaries, Jehovah's Witnesses, and many others freely carry out religious activities....

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001
There are 50 Christian societies and groups and more than 1,100 [IRF 1999: 2500; IRF 2000: 344] missionaries representing Christian or Bahá'í organizations.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2000
The Bahá'ís are no longer considered a threat by the Sunnis and Orthodox Christians. They have established a good reputation and the community is expanding rapidly.
  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999

The Sunnis and Orthodox Christians consider Bahá'ís to be a threat and exercise increasing pressure on authorities to ostracize them. In a press interview, Hazhi Hafiz Savri Koci, the leader of the Sunni Muslim community, declared that " the virus of pseudo-religions, such as the Bahá'í Faith, has infiltrated our weak body. We are at war with them, because they are trying to corrupt our souls through the power of money, spreading religious beliefs and superstition that are totally alien to the Albanian character and tradition."

ARMENIA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the law specifies some restrictions on the religious freedom of adherents of faiths other than the Armenian Apostolic Church, which has formal legal status as the national church.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001
Catholics are concentrated in the northern region of Armenia, while most Jews, Mormons and Bahá'ís are concentrated in Yerevan.

AUSTRIA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice....

Religious confessional communities, once they are recognized officially as such by the Government, have juridical standing, which permits them to engage in such activities as purchasing real estate in their own names, contracting for goods and services, and other activities...

The nine religious groups that have constituted themselves as "confessional communities" according to the 1998 law are: Jehovah's Witnesses, the Bahá'í Faith, the Baptists, the Evangelical Alliance, the Movement for Religious Renewal, the Pentecostalists, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Coptic-Orthodox Church, and the Hindu Religious Community.

AZERBAIJAN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
The Constitution provides that persons of all faiths may choose and practice their religion without restrictions, and the Government generally respects these rights for most citizens; however, there were some abuses and restrictions. Under the Law on Religious Freedom, each person has the right to choose and change his or her own religious affiliation, including atheism, to join or form the religious group of his choice, and to practice his or her religion. The State generally is prohibited expressly from interfering in the religious activities of any individual or group; however, there are exceptions, including cases where the activity of a religious group "threatens public order and stability."

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
The population is approximately 90 percent Muslim, 3 percent Christian, and less than 1 percent Jewish. The rest of the population adheres to other faiths or consists of nonbelievers.... There also have been small congregations of Evangelical Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Baptists, and Bahá'ís in Baku for over 100 years.

Confiscation of Property

  • IRF 2000
In March 2000, 132 pounds of books were confiscated from a Baptist returning home from Russia; however, they subsequently were released for entry. Other groups, including Bahá'í and Jewish groups, reported no problems importing religious literature.

The Bahá'ís reportedly are no longer seeking the return of their center, now used as a kindergarten.

  • IRF 1999

Places of worship seized from the Bahá'ís during the Communist era have not yet been returned to them.

BAHRAIN

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1991-99
  • IRF 1999-2000

Islam is the state religion and the population is overwhelmingly Muslim. However, Christians and other non-Muslims, including Jews, Hindus, and Bahá'ís are free to practice their religion, maintain their own places of worship, and display the symbols of their religion.

BARBADOS

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2001

Although society is dominated by Christian attitudes, values and mores, individuals respect the rights of religious minorities such as Jews, Bahá'ís, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and others.

BOLIVIA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. Roman Catholicism is the official religion.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001

There are Buddhist and Shinto communities, as well as a considerable Bahá'í community spread throughout the country.

BOTSWANA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2000
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.
  • HRP 1992
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by law. There is no state religion, and, while the majority of the population is Christian, Hindus, Muslims, and Bahá'ís also practice their faiths freely.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001

About half of the country's citizens identify themselves as Christians. Anglicans, Methodists, and the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa--formerly the London Missionary Society--claim the majority of Christian adherents.... Most other citizens adhere to traditional indigenous religions, or to a mixture of religions. There is a small Muslim community--about 2 to 3 percent of the population--primarily of South Asian origin, and a very small Bahá'í community as well.

BULGARIA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1997
The right to peaceful assembly is provided for by the Constitution, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The authorities require permits for rallies and assemblies held outdoors, but most legally registered organizations were routinely granted permission to assemble. However, on several occasions police broke up gatherings and services of unregistered religious groups, including those of Jehovah's Witnesses, Word of Life, The Unification Church, and Bahá'ís. These religious groups were denied registration by the Council of Ministers....

Although the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, the Government restricts this right in practice for some non-Orthodox religious groups. The ability of a number of religious groups to operate freely continued to come under attack, both as a result of government action and because of public intolerance. The government requirement that groups whose activities have a religious element register with the Council of Ministers remained an obstacle to the activity of some religious groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Word of Life, the Unification Church, and Bahá'ís, which have been denied registration....

On several occasions the police shut down religious meetings of unregistered groups.... Also in August, Haskovo municipal authorities banned a public meeting of Bahá'ís and forced them to abandon an apartment in the city.

CAMBODIA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001

Approximately 93 percent of the population is Hinayana and Theravada Buddhist....

Other religious organizations with small followings in Cambodia include the Vietnamese Cao Dai religion and the Bahá'í Faith, with about 2,000 practicing members in each group.

CAMEROON

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. In general, the Law on Religious Congregations governs relations between the State and religious groups. Religious groups must be approved and registered with the Ministry of Territorial Administration in order to function legally; there were no reports that the Government refused to register any group. The only religious groups known to be registered are Christian and Muslim groups and the Bahá'í Faith, but other groups may be registered.

CHAD

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01

The Constitution provides for religious freedom, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, at times it has limited this right.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2000-01

Of the total population, 54 percent are Islamic. About one-third are Christian, and the remainder practice traditional indigenous religions or no religion at all....

Adherents of two other religions, the Bahá'í Faith and Jehovah's Witnesses, also are present in the country. Both faiths were introduced after independence in 1960 and therefore are considered to be "new"religions.

COSTA RICA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001-02
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Constitution establishes Roman Catholicism as the state religion. However, persons of all denominations freely practice their religion without government interference.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001-02

An April 2001 study by the Institute for Population Studies (IDESPO) of Costa Rica's National University reported 70 percent of the population as Catholic with 19 percent claiming membership in other religions and 11 percent claiming no religious affiliation.... NonChristian religions including Judaism, Islam, Hare Krishna and the Bahá'í Faith claim membership throughout The country with The majority of worshippers residing in the country's Central Valley.

CUBA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution recognizes the right of citizens to profess and practice any religious belief, within the framework of respect for the law; however, in law and in practice, the Government places restrictions on freedom of religion....

The Government requires churches and other religious groups to register with the provincial Registry of Associations within the Ministry of the Interior to obtain official recognition. Although no new denominations were registered during the period covered by this report, the Government has tolerated some new religions on the island, like the Bahá'í Faith.

CYPRUS

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice. The basic law in the Turkish Cypriot community also provides for freedom of religion, and the authorities respect this right in practice.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01

Ninety-nine percent of the Turkish Cypriot population are at least nominally Muslim. There is a small Turkish Cypriot Bahá'í community.

DJIBOUTI

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution, while declaring Islam to be the state religion, provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, proselytizing is discouraged....
  • HRP 2001
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that members of the Bahá'í Faith were detained and questioned by the police for possible proselytizing activities.
  • HRP 2000
  • IRF 2000-01
On a few occasions, police have questioned members of the Bahá'í faith for possible proselytizing activities, but there have been no arrests.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01

Over 99 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. There are a small number of Catholics, Protestants, and followers of the Bahá'í Faith, together accounting for less than 1 percent of the population.

EGYPT

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001
Most citizens, approximately 90 percent, are Sunni Muslims.... The number of Bahá'ís has been estimated at between several hundred and a few thousand.

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2000
The Constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of religious rites; however, the Government places clear restrictions on this right. Under the Constitution, Islam is the official state religion and primary source of legislation. Accordingly, religious practices that conflict with Islamic law are prohibited....

Confiscation of Property

  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
In 1960, President Gamal Abdel Nasser issued a decree (Law 263 for 1960) banning Bahá'í institutions and community activities. All Bahá'í community properties, including Bahá'í centers, libraries, and cemeteries, were confiscated. This ban has not been rescinded.

Imprisonments and Executions

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
The Government occasionally prosecutes members of religious groups whose practices deviate from mainstream Islamic beliefs and whose activities are believed to jeopardize communal harmony. For example, between January and April, the Government arrested 18 persons, most of whom were Bahá'ís and some of whom were Muslims, in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag, on suspicion of violating Aricle 98(F) of the Penal Code ("insulting a heavenly religion") and a 1960 law abolishing Bahá'í institutions. Their detention was renewed several times, but no charges were brought against them. By mid-October all of the detainees had been released without charge.
  • IRF 2001
By the end of the period covered by this report, 10 Bahá'ís remained in detention without being formally charged.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
The Fundamental Law of 1995 provides for freedom of religion; however, in practice the Government limited this right in some respects.
  • HRP 1991-1992
Except for Jehovah's Witnesses, freedom of religion is generally tolerated,though ministers of religion are prohibited by law from criticizing government officials or institutions.... The Islamic and Bahá'í faiths are also practiced openly.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001
The population is approximately 93 percent Christian, 5 percent practitioners of traditional indigenous religions, and less than 1 percent each Muslim, Bahá'í, other religions, and those who are nonreligious.

GHANA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. However, the Government does not always prosecute those responsible for religiously motivated attacks....

Religions considered to be "foreign" include the Bahá'í Faith, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Ninchiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai, Sri Sathya Sai Baba Sera, Sat Sang, Eckanker, the Divine Light Mission, Hare Krishna, and Rastafarianism. The Government neither monitors nor advises these organizations.

GREECE

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2000
The Constitution establishes the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ (Greek Orthodoxy) as the prevailing religion; it also provides for the right of all citizens to practice the religion of their choice. The Government respects this right; however, non-Orthodox groups sometimes face administrative obstacles or encounter legal restrictions on religious practice.
  • IRF 2001
In Thessaloniki in late 1999, the Government Tax Office refused to recognize the Jehovah Witnesses as a non-profit association (Evangelicals and Bahá'ís are considered non-profit associations) and imposed an inheritance tax for property willed to them.

Bahá'í Community

  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999-2001
Approximately 250 [IRF 1999: 350] members of the Bahá'í Faith are scattered throughout the country. The majority are Greek citizens of non-Greek ethnicity.

Employment

  • HRP 1993
In one well-documented case that began in 1991, a middle-ranking official of the Ministry of Education, in a memorandum to a local educational official on the issuance of a teaching permit to a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Bahá'í religion, stated that according to the Ministry's "legal consultants...it was not permissible to endorse the appointment to Greek schools of educators who do not believe in the Greek Orthodox religion."

Societal Attitudes

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 1999-2001

The Orthodox Church has issued a list of practices and religious groups, including Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Bahá'ís, which it believes to be sacrilegious. Officials of the Orthodox Church have acknowledged that they refuse to enter into dialog with religious groups considered harmful to Greek Orthodox worshippers; church leaders instruct Orthodox Greeks to shun members of these faiths.

GUINEA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and permits religious communities to govern themselves without state interference; and the Government generally respects this right in practice....

The small Bahá'í community practices its faith openly and freely, although it is not officially recognized; however, it is unknown whether the community has asked for official recognition.

ICELAND

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels generally protects this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors. The official state religion is Lutheranism.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001
Of the total population, 248,411 are members of the state Lutheran Church (88 percent), according to the National Statistical Bureau.... Some 10,661 individuals (4 percent) are members of 20 other recognized and registered religious organizations:... Bahá'í Community 386...
  • IRF 2000
According to the National Statistical Bureau, there were 209,902 Icelanders 16 years of age and over as of December 1, 1999. Of that total, some l65,560, or about 86 percent, were members of the state Lutheran church. Some 7,277 (3 percent) were members of 19 other recognized and registered religious organizations:... Bahá'í Faith - 307....
  • IRF 1999

According to the National Register of Persons, as of December 1, 1998, of a total population age 16 and over of 206,701, membership in religious organizations was as follows: ...Bahá'í community-325....

INDIA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution provides for secular government and the protection of religious freedom, and the central Government generally respects these provisions in practice; however, it sometimes does not act effectively to counter societal attacks against religious minorities and attempts by state and local governments to limit that freedom.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
  • HRP 2000

According to 1999 government statistics (based on the 1991 national census), Hindus constitute 82.4 percent of the population, Muslims 12.7 percent,Christians 2.3 percent, Sikhs 2 percent, Buddhists 0.7 percent, Jains 0.4 percent, and others, including Parsis, Jews, and Bahá'ís, 0.4 percent.

INDONESIA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2001
The Constitution provides for religious freedom for members of officially recognized religions, and the Government generally respects this provisions in practice; however, there are some restrictions on certain types of religious activity and on unrecognized religions. The Constitution also requires the belief in one supreme God.
  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2001
Some religious minorities, including the Bahá'í and Rosicrucians, were given the freedom to organize in May when Presidential Decree 69/2000 revoked Presidential Decree 264/1962, which had restricted their activities.
  • HRP 2001
Members of the Bahá'í Faith generally did not report problems during the year. However, in May a crowd of Muslims reportedly expelled two Bahá'í families living in a predominantly Muslim village in the Donggala District of Central Sulawesi.
  • HRP 1999-2000
  • IRF 1999-2000
Members of the Bahá'í faith did not report problems during the period covered by this report.
  • HRP 1993-98
The Government banned some religions, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Bahá'í, Confucianism and in some provinces the messianic Islamic sect Darul Arqam.
  • HRP 1992-93
According to official statistics, nearly 400 "misleading religious cults" are banned, including Jehovah's Witnesses and Bahá'í.
  • HRP 1991
A 1963 ban on the Bahá'í Faith continues in force.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2001
Members of the Bahá'í Faith did not report major problems since the lifting of the ban on their religious practice...; however, in early May 2001, a crowd of Muslims reportedly ousted two Bahá'í families living in a predominantly Muslim village in the Donggala District of Central Sulawesi. The local branch of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) issued a religious decree (fatwa) banning the spread of the Bahá'í Faith in the district.

IRAN

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Government restricts freedom of religion. The Constitution declares that the "official religion of Iran is Islam and the sect followed is that of Ja'fari (Twelver) Shi'ism," and that this principle is "eternally immutable." It also states that "other Islamic denominations are to be accorded full respect," and recognizes Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews (Iran's pre-Islamic religions) as the only "protected religious minorities." Religions not specifically protected under the Constitution do not enjoy freedom of religion. This situation most directly affects the nearly 350,000 followers of the Bahá'í Faith, who effectively enjoy no legal rights.
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2000-01
Over the past 2 years, the Government of Iran took some positive steps in recognizing the rights of Bahá'ís, as well as other religious minorities.

In November 1999, President Khatami publicly stated that no one in Iran should be persecuted because of his or her religious beliefs. He added that he would defend the civil rights of all citizens, regardless of their beliefs or religion. Subsequently, the Expediency Council approved the "Right of Citizenship" bill, affirming the social and political rights of all citizens and their equality before the law. In February 2000, following approval of the bill, the head of the judiciary issued a circular letter to all registry offices throughout the country, which permits any couple to be registered as husband and wife without being required to state their religious affiliation. This measure effectively permits the registration of Bahá'í marriages in Iran. Previously, Bahá'í marriages were not recognized by the Government, leaving Bahá'í women open to charges of prostitution. Consequently, children of Bahá'í marriages were not recognized as legitimate and, therefore, were denied inheritance rights. The impact of the new registration policy on the status of Bahá'í families remains unclear.

  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999, 2001
Bahá'ís may not teach or practice their faith or maintain links with coreligionists abroad. The fact that the Bahá'í world headquarters is situated in what is now the state of Israel (established by the founder of the Bahá'í Faith in the 19th century in what was then Ottoman-controlled Palestine) exposes Bahá'ís to government charges of "espionage on behalf of Zionism," in particular when Bahá'ís are caught communicating with or addressing monetary contributions to the Bahá'í Faith headquarters.
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
In his 1996 report to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Question of Religious Intolerance recommended "that the ban on the Bahá'í organization should be lifted to enable it to organize itself freely through its administrative institutions, which are vital in the absence of a clergy, so that it can engage fully in its religious activities." In response to the Special Rapporteur's concerns with regard to the lack of official recognition of the Bahá'í Faith, government officials stated that Bahá'ís "are not a religious minority, but a political organization that was associated with the Shah's regime, is against the Iranian Revolution, and engages in espionage activities." The Government asserted to the Special Representative that, as individuals, all Bahá'ís were entitled to their beliefs and protected under other articles of the Constitution as Iranian citizens.
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Adherents of recognized religious minorities are not required to register individually with the Government, although their community, religious, and cultural organizations, as well as schools and public events are monitored closely. Bahá'ís are not recognized by the Government as a legitimate religious group but are considered an outlawed political organization. Registration of Bahá'í adherents is a police function.
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Recognized religious minorities are allowed by the Government to establish community centers and certain cultural, social, sports or charitable associations which they finance themselves. This does not apply to the Bahá'í community which, since 1983, has been denied the right to assemble officially or to maintain administrative institutions. Because the Bahá'í Faith has no clergy, the denial of the right to form such institutions and elect officers has threatened its existence in Iran.
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Government is highly suspicious of any proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims and can be harsh in its response, in particular against Bahá'ís and evangelical Christians. The Government regards the Bahá'í community, whose faith originally derives from a strand of Islam, as a "misguided" or "wayward" sect. The Government has fueled anti-Bahá'í and anti-Jewish sentiment in the country for political purposes.
  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Broad restrictions on Bahá'ís appear to be aimed at destroying them as a community. Bahá'ís repeatedly have been offered relief from mistreatment if they were prepared to recant their faith.
  • HRP 1998-1999
  • IRF 1999-2000
Bahá'í marriages are not recognized by the Government, leaving Bahá'í women open to charges of prostitution. Children of Bahá'í marriages are not recognized as legitimate and, therefore, are denied inheritance rights.
  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
In 1993 the U.N. Special Representative reported the existence of a government policy directive on the Bahá'ís. According to the directive, the Supreme Revolutionary Council instructed government agencies to block the progress and development of the Bahá'í community, expel Bahá'í students from universities, cut the Bahá'ís' links with groups outside Iran, restrict the employment of Bahá'ís, and deny Bahá'ís "positions of influence," including those in education. The Government claims that the directive is a forgery. However, it appears to be an accurate reflection of current government practice.
  • HRP 1998
The year was particularly difficult year the Bahá'í community. The Government regards the Bahá'í community of 300,000 to 350,000 members, whose faith originally derives from a strand of Islam, as a "misguided" or "wayward" sect. The Special Representative noted in his September report that pressures on Bahá'ís from the judiciary apparently increased during the year. The execution of Ruhollah Rouhani and the death sentences confirmed against two other Bahá'ís in Mashad..., along with the arbitrary roundup of students and faculty associated with the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Learning, marked a renewed level of persecution and state-directed intimidation of a community that is always at risk, but particularly so during times of political ferment.
  • HRP 1998
Bahá'ís face severe repression, and are particularly vulnerable during times of social and political unrest....
  • HRP 1992
Bahaiis are forbidden to participate in social welfare organizations, and they may not teach their faith.
  • HRP 1991-92
The Government continues to discriminate against the Bahaii community, Iranis largest non-Muslim minority (300,000 to 350,000 members). The Bahaii religion is considered a "misguided sect" by the authorities and is not officially recognized....

In legal matters, the Government has stated that it will protect the "social and legal rights" of Bahaiis as "normal citizens." However, the Government has continued to attack the Bahaii community as a front for political and espionage activities and prohibits the community from electing leaders or conducting religious activities. The actual treatment of Bahaiis varies depending on the jurisdiction. Bahaii marriages are still not recognized. Bahaiis are now generally able to bury their dead in Bahaii cemeteries, although this remains a problem in a number of areas.

  • HRP 1991
In his February 1991 report, the the Special Representative noted that "the situation of the Bahá'ís is moving towards quite broad de facto tolerance."

However, widespread discrimination against the community persists.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001
  • HRP 2000-01
The population is approximately 99 percent Muslim, of which 89 percent are Shi'a and 10 percent are Sunni.... Bahá'í, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Jewish communities compose less than 1 percent of the population.
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999, 2001
The largest non-Muslim minority is the Bahá'í Faith, which has an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 adherents throughout the country.

The Bahá'í Faith originated in Iran during the 1840's as a reformist movement within Shi'a Islam. Initially it attracted a wide following among Shi'a clergy. The political and religious authorities of that time joined to suppress the movement, and since then the hostility of the Shi'a clergy to the Bahá'í Faith has remained intense. Bahá'ís are considered apostates because of their claim to a valid religious revelation subsequent to that of the Prophet Mohammed. The Bahá'í Faith is defined by the Government as a political sect historically linked to the Shah's regime and, therefore, as counterrevolutionary, and characterized by its espionage activities for the benefit of foreign entities, particularly Israel. Historically at risk in Iran, Bahá'ís often have suffered increased levels of persecution during times of political ferment. [HRP 1999 and IRF 1999 add: Bahá'ís also faced discrimination under the Shah.]

Trials, Imprisonment, Executions

1. In General

  • HRP 1997-2001
  • IRF 1999, 2001
The Government appears to adhere to a practice of keeping a small number of Bahá'ís in arbitrary detention, some at risk of execution, at any given time.
  • HRP 2001
Sources claim that such arrests are carried out to "terrorize" the community and to disrupt the lives of its members. Most of those arrested are charged and then quickly released. However, the charges against them are often not dropped, forcing them to live in a continuing state of uncertainty and apprehension
  • HRP 1997-99, 2001
  • IRF 1999
The Government frequently charges members of religious minorities with crimes such as "confronting the regime" and apostasy [IRF 1999 and HRP 1997 add: drug offenses], and conducts trials in these cases in the same manner as is reserved for threats to national security. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who resigned as head of the judiciary in August, stated in 1996 that Bahá'í Faith was an espionage organization. Trials against Bahá'ís have reflected this view.
  • HRP 1997
Two Bahá'í men reportedly died under circumstances that led some observers to believe that the men were killed because of their religious beliefs.
  • HRP 1991
As it has over the past few years, the government continued to mitigate its repression of individual Bahá'ís. No Bahá'ís were executed in 1991....

2. Numbers of detainees

  • IRF 2001
There were 10 Bahá'ís reported to be under arrest for the practice of their faith at the end of the period covered by this report, 2 of them under sentences of death.
  • HRP 2001
According to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, since 1979 more than 200 Bahá'ís have been killed and 15 others have disappeared and are presumed dead....

According to Bahá'í sources, five Bahá'ís remained in prison as of the end of October, including two who were convicted of either apostasy or "actions against God" and sentenced to death. In October authorities released two Bahá'ís from prison in Mashad.

  • HRP 2000
There were at least 10 Bahá'ís reported to be under arrest for practicing their faith at year's end, 2 under sentence of death....

According to the U.N. Special Representative and Bahá'í groups, at least 10 Bahá'ís are in prisons, including 2 who were convicted of either apostasy or "actions against God" and sentenced to death. In March 1999, the four remaining detainees from the 1998 raid on the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Learning were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 10 years....

  • IRF 2000
Four Bahá'ís are currently on death row--two for "Zionist Bahá'í activities" and two for apostasy....

There were 11 Bahá'ís reported to be under arrest for the practice of their faith as of June 1999, 4 under sentence of death.

  • HRP 1999
According to the U.N. Special Representative and Bahá'í groups, at least 12 Bahá'ís are in prisons, including 5 who were convicted of either apostasy or "actions against God" and sentenced to death. In March the four remaining detainees from the 1998 raid on the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Learning were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 10 years....
  • IRF 1999
There were 14 Bahá'ís reported to be under arrest in Iran for practice of their faith as of June 1999, 4 under sentence of death.
  • HRP 1998
According to the U.N. Special Representative and Bahá'í groups, at least 14 Bahá'ís are in prisons, including 6 men, convicted of either apostasy or "actions against God" and sentenced to death. Thirty-six Bahá'ís associated with the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Learning were detained arbitrarily in a September government raid on offices and residences associated with the Institute.... Four of those arrested remained in custody at year's end.
  • HRP 1997
According to the Special Representative and Bahá'í groups, at least 21 Bahá'ís are currently in Iranian prisons, including 2 men convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death. Two other Bahá'í men are in prison and sentenced to death for espionage and Zionist activities. Eleven Bahá'ís were arrested between May and December, two on unknown charges, one for proselytizing a Muslim, four for holding Bahá'í meetings, and four for working without permits.
  • HRP 1994
As of August, about eight Bahá'ís were imprisoned because of their beliefs.
  • HRP 1992
Bahaiis continued to face arbitrary arrest and detention. As of August 1992, there were nearly 20 Bahaiis in prison, as the Government continued its practice of detaining a small but relatively steady number of Bahaiis at any time.
  • HRP 1991
Bahá'ís continued to face arbitrary arrest and detention. A total of 31 Bahá'ís were detained for various lengths of time in 1991, although the number of detaineees at any one time was around 10.

3. Khulusi, Manuchehr

  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2001
Manuchehr Khulusi was arrested in June 1999 while visiting fellow Bahá'ís in the town of Birjand, and was imprisoned until his release in May 2000. During his imprisonment, Khulusi was interrogated, beaten, held in solitary confinement, and denied access to his lawyer. The charges brought against him still are unknown, but they were believed to be related to his faith. The Islamic Revolutionary Court in Mashhad held a 2-day trial in September 1999 and then sentenced him to death in February 2000. Despite Khulusi's release, it is unclear if the conviction and death sentence against him still stand.

4. Mahrami, Zabihullah

  • HRP 1999
In January 1995, a Revolutionary Court in city of Yazd found Zabihullah Mahrami, a member of the local Bahá'í community, guilty of apostasy after he refused to sever his ties to the Bahá'í community. The court sentenced Mahrami to death and also ordered the confiscation of his assets, on grounds that he did not have any Muslim heirs. Mahrami's wife and children are Bahá'ís. Mahrami appealed to the Supreme Court, which in February rejected the verdict and referred the case back to a civilian court, rather than a revolutionary court, for further consideration.
  • HRP 1997
In January it was learned that the Supreme Court of Iran had confirmed the death sentences against Zabihullah Mahrami and Musa Talabi, two Bahá'ís convicted of apostasy.

5. Faculty of Bahá'í Open University

  • HRP 1999, 2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
In September 1998, authorities began a nationwide operation to disrupt the activities of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Learning, also known as the "Open University," which was established by the Bahá'í community shortly after the revolution to offer opportunities in higher education to Bahá'í students who had been denied access to the country's high schools and universities. The Institute employed Bahá'í faculty and professors, many of whom had been dismissed from teaching positions by the Government as a result of their faith, and conducted classes in homes or offices owned or rented by Bahá'ís. In the assault, which took place in at least 14 different cities, 36 faculty members were arrested, and a variety of personal property, including books, papers, and furniture, either were destroyed or confiscated. Government interrogators sought to force the detained faculty members to sign statements acknowledging that the Open University now was defunct and pledging not to collaborate with it in the future. Bahá'ís outside the country report that none of the 36 detainees would sign the document. All but four of the 36 subsequently were released.

In March 1999, Dr. Sina Hakiman, Farzad Khajeh Sharifabadi, Habibullah Ferdosian Najafabadi, and Ziaullah Mirzapanah, the four remaining detainees from the September 1998 raid, were convicted under Article 498 of the Penal Code and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 10 years. In the court verdict, the four were accused of having established a "secret organization" engaged in "attracting youth, teaching against Islam, and teaching against the regime of the Islamic Republic." According to Bahá'í groups outside Iran, the four taught general science and Persian literature courses. HRP 2001: Mirzapanah, who had been sentenced to 3 years in prison, became ill and was hospitalized. Prison authorities allowed him to return home upon his recovery on the understanding that they could find him whenever necessary. The other three were released in December 1999.

  • IRF 1999-2000
In July 1999, Mirzapanah, who had been sentenced to 3 years in prison, became ill and was hospitalized. Prison authorities allowed him to return home upon his recovery on the understanding that they could find him whenever necessary. The other three were released in December 1999.
  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999
In October [1999] Bahá'í groups outside the country reported that all four were released from prison. There was no explanation for the release.

6. Rowhani, Ruhollah

  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Ruhollah Rowhani, a Bahá'í, was executed in July 1998 after having served 9 months in solitary confinement on a charge of apostasy, which arose from his allegedly having converted a Muslim woman to the Bahá'í Faith. The woman concerned held that her mother was a Bahá'í and she herself had been raised a Bahá'í. Mr. Rowhani was not accorded a public trial, and no sentence was announced prior to his execution.

7. Zabihi-Moghaddam, Sirus, and Kashefi-Nejafabadi, Hedayat

  • HRP 1998-99, 2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Two Bahá'ís, Sirus Zabihi-Moghaddam and Hadayat Kashefi-Najafabadi, were tried alongside Rowhani and later sentenced to death by a revolutionary court in Mashad for the exercise of their faith.
  • IRF 2001
  • HRP 2000
In 2000 the sentences were reduced to 7 and 5 years respectively.
  • IRF 2000
Their sentences were affirmed in February 2000.
  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999
Unofficial reports received by Bahá'í groups outside the country in March indicated that the death sentences against Zabihi-Moghaddam and Kashefi-Najafabadi had been lifted. The two remain in prison and there is no confirmation of a new sentence.
  • HRP 1998
Their sentences were under appeal before the Supreme Court of Iran at year's end.
  • HRP 1998
In October a Revolutionary Court in Mashad sentenced to death Sirus Zabihi-Moghaddam and Hedayat Kashefi-Nejafabadi, two Bahá'ís arrested in October 1997, in a secret trial on a finding of "waging war against God." A third defendant in the same trial, Ataollah Hamid-Sasirizadeh, was given a 10-year sentence. Among the charges against the defendants were "activism in the administration of the Bahá'í faith; misleading Muslims; and espionage on behalf of foreign powers." The defendants were denied the right to choose their own counsel, or to consult family or coreligionists during their extended pretrial detention period.

8. Zolfaqari, Ramazan Ali

  • HRP 1994
One Bahá'í, Ramazan Ali Zolfaqari, was convicted of apostasy, imprisoned, and released on January 6. His conviction is still in effect. As of August, about eight Bahá'ís were imprisoned because of their beliefs.

9. Samandir, Bahman

  • HRP 1994
The family of Bahman Samandir, a Bahá'í executed by the Government in 1992, has still been unable to recover his body....
  • HRP 1992
A prominent member of the Bahaii community, Bahman Samandari, was summarily executed in March 1992, the first such execution of a Bahaii since 1988.

10. Khalajabadi, Kayvan, and Mithaqi, Bihnam

  • HRP 1996
On February 18, the Iranian court confirmed death sentences for two Bahá'ís, Kayvan Khalajabadi and Bihnam Mithaqi. When they were sentenced in 1993, an Iranian member of the U.N. Human Rights Commission stated that they were sentenced to death not because they were Bahá'ís, but because they were spies.

Education

  • IRF 2001
The Government allows recognized religious minorities to conduct the religious education of their adherents. This includes separate and privately funded Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian schools but not Bahá'í schools.
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
In September in conjunction with an appeal connected to the 1998 raids and property confiscations, the Ministry of Justice issued a report that reiterated that government policy continued to be to eventually eliminate them as a community. It stated in part that Bahá'ís could only be enrolled in schools provided they did not identify themselves as Bahá'ís, and that Bahá'ís preferably should be enrolled in schools that have a strong and imposing religious ideology. The report also stated that Bahá'ís must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahá'ís.
  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2000-01
In 1999 authorities in Khurasan intensified their efforts to intimidate and undermine Bahá'í education. Two teachers in Mashhad were arrested and sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment. Their students were given suspended sentences, to be reinstated if the students again participated in religious education classes. Three more Bahá'ís were arrested in Bujnurd in northern Khurasan for participating in religious education gatherings. After 6 days in prison, they were released with suspended sentences of 5 years. The use of suspended sentences appears to be a new government tactic to discourage Bahá'ís from taking part in monthly religious gatherings.
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 2001
In September 1998 authorities launched a nationwide operation to disrupt the activities of the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Learning, also known as the "Open University,"established by the Bahá'í community shortly after the revolution to offer higher educational opportunities to Bahá'í students who had been denied access to high schools and universities. The Institute employed Bahá'í faculty and professors, many of whom had been dismissed from teaching positions by the Government as a result of their Bahá'í faith, and conducted classes in homes or offices owned or rented by Bahá'ís. [More about the arrests and sentences above.]
  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Bahá'í group meetings and religious education, which often take place in private homes and offices, are curtailed severely. Public and private universities continue to deny admittance to Bahá'í students, a particularly demoralizing blow to a community that traditionally has placed a high value on education. Denial of access to higher education appears aimed at the eventual impoverishment of the Bahá'í community.
  • HRP 1998-2000
  • IRF 2001
While in recent years the Government has eased some restrictions, thereby enabling Bahá'ís to obtain food-ration booklets and send their children to public schools, the prohibition against the admission of Bahá'ís to universities remains.
  • HRP 1997
Universities continue to deny admittance to Bahá'í students.
  • HRP 1994
Other government restrictions have been eased, so that Bahá'ís may currently obtain food ration booklets and send their children to public schools. However, the prohibition against the admission of Bahá'ís to universities appears to be enforced.
  • HRP 1992
Bahaii children are now permitted to attend grade school and high school but are generally not permitted to attend college or be employed on college faculties.
  • HRP 1991
Bahá'ís generally cannot attend college (the Special Representative noted that only four have been admitted to universities) or be employed on college faculties.

Employment

  • HRP 1991-92, 1996, 1998-2000
  • IRF 1999-2001
Thousands of Bahá'ís who were dismissed from government jobs in the early 1980's receive no unemployment benefits and have been required to repay the Government for salaries or pensions received from the first day of employment. Those unable to do so face prison sentences....
  • HRP 1997-99
  • IRF 1999-2001
Bahá'ís are prohibited from government employment. A 1993 law prohibits government workers from membership in groups that deny the "divine religions," terminology the Government uses to label members of the Bahá'í faith. The law also stipulates penalties for government workers who do not observe "Islamic principles and rules."
  • HRP 1991-92
Some Bahá'ís continue to be denied public sector (and often private sector) employment on account of their religion; in a number of cases ration cards have been denied on the same grounds.

Confiscation of Property

  • IRF 2001
In 2000 eight buildings belonging to Bahá'ís were confiscated in Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan. In 1999 three Bahá'í homes in Yazd and one in Arbakan were confiscated because their owners were members of the Bahá'í community.
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2000-01
Bahá'í cemeteries, holy places, historical sites, administrative centers and other assets were seized shortly after the 1979 revolution. None of the properties have been returned, and many have been destroyed. Bahá'ís are not allowed to bury and honor their dead in keeping with their religious tradition. They are permitted access only to areas of wasteland, designated by the Government for their use, and are not allowed to mark the graves. Many historic Bahá'í gravesites have been desecrated or destroyed. In October 1998, three Bahá'ís were arrested in Damavand, a city north of Tehran, on the grounds that they had buried their dead without government authorization....
  • HRP 2001
In 2000 in the city of Abadeh, a Bahá'í cemetery with 22 graves was bulldozed by a Revolutionary Guard officer. In what seemed to be a hopeful sign, the Government this year offered the Tehran community a piece of land for use as a cemetery. However, the land was in the desert, with no access to water, making it impossible to perform Bahá'í mourning rituals. In addition, the Government stipulated that no markers be put on individual graves and that no mortuary facilities be built on the site, making it impossible to perform a proper burial.... In recent months, 14 Bahá'í homes were seized and handed over to an agency of Supreme Leader Khamene'i. According to sources, authorities confiscated Bahá'í properties in Kata and forced several families to leave their homes and farmlands. Authorities also imprisoned some, and did not permit others to harvest their crops. Sources also report that authorities in Tehran, Isfahan, and Shiraz also confiscated private Bahá'í property during the year. In one instance, a woman from Isfahan who legally traveled abroad found that her home had been confiscated when she returned home. This year the Government also seized private homes in which Bahá'í youth classes were held despite the owners having proper ownership documents....
  • IRF 2000
  • HRP 2000
The property rights of Bahá'ís generally are disregarded. Since 1979, large numbers of private and business properties belonging to Bahá'ís have been confiscated.
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2000
During the period covered by this report, three Bahá'í homes in Yazd and one in Arbakan were confiscated because their owners were members of the Bahá'í community.
  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2000-01
In September and October 1998, government officers plundered more than 500 Bahá'í homes throughout the country and seized personal household effects, such as furniture and appliances. Seizure of personal property, in addition to the denial of access to education and employment, is eroding the economic base of the Bahá'í community.
  • HRP 2000
In 1999 three Bahá'í homes in Yazd and one in Arbakan were confiscated because their owners were members of the Bahá'í community.
  • HRP 1997-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Bahá'ís regularly are denied compensation for injury or criminal victimization. Government authorities claim that only Muslim plaintiffs are eligible for compensation in these circumstances.
  • HRP 1996
The persecution of Bahá'ís persisted in 1996. The Government continued to return some property previously confiscated from individual Bahá'ís, although the amount returned is a fraction of the total seized.
  • HRP 1996
  • IRF 1999
Property belonging to the Bahá'í community as a whole, however, such as places of worship, remains confiscated. Other government restrictions have been eased, so that Bahá'ís may currently obtain food ration booklets and send their children to public schools. However, the prohibition against the admission of Bahá'ís to universities appears to be enforced. Thousands of Bahá'ís dismissed from government jobs in the early 1980's receive no unemployment benefits and have been required to repay the Government for salaries or pensions received from the first day of employment. Those unable to do so face prison sentences.....
  • HRP 1998-99
Properties belonging to the Bahá'í community as a whole, such as places of worship and graveyards, were confiscated by the Government in the years after the 1979 revolution and, in some cases, defiled.
  • HRP 1994
The persecution of Bahá'ís persisted unevenly in 1994. The Government continued to return some property previously confiscated from individual Bahá'ís, although the amount returned is a fraction of the total seized. Property belonging to the Bahá'í community as a whole, such as places of worship, remains confiscated.
  • HRP 1993
In 1993 Tehran municipal authorities built a cultural center on the site of a Bahá'í cemetery. Immediately after the 1978-1979 revolution, the cemetery's markers were removed (some reportedly were auctioned off), and the site was turned into a park. The new construction in 1993 involved excavations that reportedly desecrated Bahá'í graves. The U.S. and other governments condemned the desecration and called on Iran to halt the project. There is no indication, however, that the Iranian authorities stopped the construction.

The treatment of Bahá'ís varies somewhat, depending on the jurisdiction; in other places, Bahá'ís were still able to bury their dead in Bahá'í cemeteries.

  • HRP 1991-92
The Government continued to return some of the property of individual Bahá'ís that it had previously confiscated, although the amount represents a small fraction of the total seized....

Most Bahá'ís are now able to obtain food ration booklets.

  • HRP 1992
Some 25 families, however, were evicted from their homes in September following court decisions in Tehran, Isfahan, and Yazd. Property of the community, such as places of worship, remains confiscated.

Travel

  • HRP 2001
The Government often prevents Bahá'ís from traveling outside the country. In February the Government denied visas to the Bahá'í delegation to the Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Conference on Racism, held in Tehran. The delegation was composed of American, Japanese, South Korean, and Indian nationals. However, it has become somewhat easier for Bahá'ís to obtain passports in order to travel abroad. In addition some Iranian embassies abroad do not require applicants to state a religious affiliation. In such cases, Bahá'ís more likely are able to renew passports.
  • HRP 1998-99, 2001
Bahá'ís often experience difficulty getting passports.
  • HRP 1991-1992
A small number of Bahá'ís were permitted to leave the country....

While some Bahá'ís have been issued passports, the Special Representative reported that the vast majority of such applications are denied.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2001
Iranian Society is accustomed to the presence of Iran's pre-Islamic, non-Muslim communities. However, government actions create a threatening atmosphere for some religious minorities, especially Bahá'ís, Jews, and evangelical Christians.

US Government Policy

  • IRF 1999-2001
President Clinton made a number of statements regarding the treatment of religious minorities in Iran, including a June 1998 statement criticizing the execution of Ruhollah Rowhani, a member of the Bahá'í Faith....

The U.S. State Department spokesman on numerous occasions has addressed the situation of the Bahá'í and Jewish communities, notably following the Secretary's March 17, 2000 speech on Iran, the execution of Ruhollah Rowhani in June 1998, the Government's actions against the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education in September 1998, and repeatedly after the arrest of 13 members of the Iranian Jewish community in March 1999. The U.S. Government has encouraged other governments to make similar statements and has pressed those governments to raise the issue of religious freedom in discussions with the Iranian Government.

  • IRF 1999
The Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, in testimony before Congress on Iran, has highlighted the plight of Iran's religious minorities....

ISRAEL

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
Israel has no constitution; however, the law provides for freedom of worship, and the government generally respects this right in practice.
  • HRP 1998
The Government has recognized only Jewish holy places under the 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law, therefore denying government funding for the preservation and protection of Christian, Druze, Muslim, Bahá'í, and other religious sites. Following a 1997 challenge to this practice, the Ministry of Religious Affairs agreed to consider funding requests for non-Jewish sites, although none were approved during the year.

US Government Policy

  • IRF 1999-2001

Embassy representatives, including the Ambassador, routinely meet with religious officials. These contacts included meetings with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Bahá'í leaders at a variety of levels.

JORDAN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, provided that religious practices are consistent with "public order and morality;" however, the Government imposes some restrictions on freedom of religion, and citizens may not always be allowed to practice the religion of their choice. According to the Constitution, Islam is the state religion.
  • HRP 1998-2000
  • IRF 1999-2000
Bahá'ís face some societal and official discrimination. Their faith is not recognized officially, and Bahá'ís are classified as Muslims on official documents, such as the national identity card.
  • HRP 1991, 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Bahá'í community is too small to sustain its own court, and Bahá'í family legal matters, including marriage, must be handled in the Shari'a courts. Most Bahá'ís are unwilling to be married in these courts.
  • HRP 1999-2000
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Government does not recognize the Druze or Bahá'í faiths as religions but does not prohibit the practice of the faiths.... The Government does not record the bearer's religion on national identity cards issued to Druze or Bahá'ís.
  • HRP 1999-2001
The Government notes individuals' religions (except for Bahá'ís) on the national identity card and "family book" (a national registration record issued to the head of every family that serves as proof of citizenship) of all citizens.
  • HRP 1993
In December the Ministry of Interior agreed to accept Bahá'í marriage certificates as proof of marriage for the issuance of passports and other official identity documents.
  • HRP 1992
The Government does not recognize the Bahaíi Faith as a religion, and the small Bahaíi community continues to encounter discrimination....
  • HRP 1991
The Government does not recognize the Bahaíi faith as a religion, and Bahá'ís have experienced some problems in the past with the registration of community property.

Education

  • HRP 1998-2000
  • IRF 1999-2001
Religious instruction is mandatory for all Muslim students in public schools. Christian and Bahá'í students are not required to attend courses in Islam.
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
The Government does not permit Bahá'ís to register schools or places of worship.
  • HRP 1992
Bahá'ís suffer various forms of discrimination. An October 1991 government decree requires all students to be classified on student identification documents as either "Christian" or "Muslim." Previously, Bahá'í students were permitted to be so identified. A further stipulation requires that Bahaíis take national postsecondary examinations on Islam, unlike Christian religious minorities who take examinations on Christianity.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2001
Over 95 percent of the population are Sunni Muslim. Official government figures estimate that Christians make up 4 percent of the population; however, government and Christian officials privately estimate the true figure to be closer to 2 percent. There also are at least 20,000 Druze, a small number of Shi'a Muslims, and less than 800 adherents of the Bahá'í faith.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2001

Bahá'ís face some societal and official discrimination.

KAZAKHSTAN

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the various religious communities worship largely without government interference; however, the Government's concerns about regional security threats from alleged religious extremists led it to encourage local officials to limit the practice of religion by some nontraditional groups.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2001
  • HRP 2001

Many media outlets (both official and independent), including some of the most widely distributed, have presented as objective news allegations that nontraditional religious groups present a threat to national security and social cohesion. Articles on Jehovah's Witnesses and Bahá'í faiths were particularly confrontational.

KUWAIT

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
Islam is the state religion; although the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, the Government places some limits on this right. The Constitution also provides that the State protect the freedom to practice religion in accordance with established customs, "provided that it does not conflict with public policy or morals." The Constitution states that Shari'a (Islamic law) is "a main source of legislation."

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
Among a total population of 2.2 million, approximately 1.5 million persons are Muslim, including& the vast majority of the 750,000 citizens. The remainder of the overall population consists of the large foreign labor force and over 100,000 stateless persons, most of whom are Muslim....

There are also members of religions not sanctioned in the Koran, such as Hindus (100,000 members), Sikhs (10,000), Bahá'ís (400), and Buddhists (no statistics available).

LAOS

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion; however, the Government restricts this right in practice. Some government officials committed abuses of citizens' religious freedom.
  • HRP 2001
In previous years, followers of Islam and the Bahá'í faith also have been monitored and arrested, although there were no known cases of monitoring and arrest of Muslims and Bahá'í believers during the year.
  • HRP 1998-99
  • IRF 1999-2001
In more isolated cases, provincial authorities instructed their officials to monitor and arrest persons who professed belief in Christianity, Islam, or the Bahá'í faith.
  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
The enhanced status given to Buddhism in Luang Prabang--famed for its centuries-old Buddhist tradition and numerous temples--apparently led some local officials there to act more harshly toward minority religious sects, particularly toward Christian and Bahá'í, than in other areas of the country....
  • HRP 2000-01
Two mosques and two Bahá'í centers operate openly in Vientiane municipality; two other Bahá'í centers are located in Vientiane province and Pakse.
  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999-2001
Local spiritual assemblies and the national spiritual assembly routinely hold Bahá'í 19-day feasts and celebrate all holy days. The national spiritual assembly meets regularly and is free to send a delegation to the Universal House of Justice in Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel....
  • HRP 1998
There remains a continuing suspicion on the part of authorities toward some parts of the Lao religious community other than Buddhism, including some Christian groups, in part because they do not share a similar high degree of direction and incorporation into the government structure. Authorities especially appear to suspect those religious groups that gain support from foreign sources, aggressively proselytize among the poor or uneducated, or give targeted assistance to converts. The Government permits major religious festivals of all established congregations without hindrance. Two mosques and a Bahá'í center operate openly in Vientiane.
  • HRP 1996
There were also unconfirmed reports that Lao Christians were sometimes barred from the Party or from government employment and that some rural Lao were not allowed to convert to the Bahá'í faith.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Bahá'í Faith has more than 1,200 adherents and four centers: Two in Vientiane municipality, one in Vientiane province, and one in Pakse.

LEBANON

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, there are some restrictions. Discrimination based on religion is built into the system of government. There are no legal barriers to proselytizing; however, traditional attitudes and edicts of the clerical establishment discourage such activity.

State recognition is not a legal requirement for religious worship or practice. For example, although Bahá'ís, Buddhists, and Hindus are not recognized officially, they are allowed to practice their faith without government interference; however, their marriages, divorces, and inheritances in the country are not recognized under the law.

LIBYA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
The Government restricts freedom of religion. The country is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, and the leadership states publicly its preference for Islam....

According to recent reports, individuals rarely are harassed because of their religious practices, unless such practices are perceived as having a political motivation....

There are no known places of worship for other non-Muslim religions such as Hinduism, the Bahá'í Faith, and Buddhism, although adherents are allowed to practice within the privacy of their homes. Foreign adherents of these religions are allowed to display and sell religious items at bazaars and other gatherings.

LIECHTENSTEIN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
Of a total population of 32,015 (as of December 31, 1998, according to the Office of the National Economy) there are... 12 Bahá'ís....
  • IRF 1999

Of a total population of 31,320 (as of December 31, 1997, according to the Office of the National Economy) there are... 12 Bahá'ís (0.04 percent)....

MALI

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, the Government does not officially recognize the Bahá'í Faith.

In 1989 a previous government refused an application for registration submitted by a Bahá'í group, although there was and still is no state law prohibiting the practice of the Bahá'í Faith. The absence of official recognition does not appear to have restricted materially the practice of the Bahá'í Faith in the country....

Although the Government does not officially recognize the Bahá'í Faith, it does not restrict the practice of that religion either in law or in practice.

  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999
The Government requires that all public associations, including religious associations, register with the Government. However, registration confers no tax preference and no other legal benefits, and failure to register is not penalized in practice. The registration process is routine and is not burdensome....

In 1989 a previous government refused an application for registration submitted by a Bahá'í group, although there was and still is no state law prohibiting the practice of the Bahá'í Faith. The absence of official recognition does not appear to have restricted materially the practice of the Bahá'í Faith in the country. Although the Government still does not officially recognize the Bahá'í Faith, it does not restrict the practice of the religion either in law or in practice.

  • HRP 1998
There are restrictions against the Bahá'í faith; however, they seldom are enforced and Bahá'ís generally practice their faith freely.
  • HRP 1993
Administrative orders promulgated in 1977 prohibiting members of the Bahá'í faith from meeting in groups of more than three people are not enforced, and Bahá'í practice their faith without interference.
  • HRP 1991
Proselytizing and conversion are permitted, except in the case of the Bahá'í....

While administrative orders promulgated in 1977 prohibiting Bahá'í from meeting in groups of more than three people remain in force, these orders are not enforced, and Bahá'í practice their faith without interference.

MOLDOVA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, a 1992 law on religion that codifies religious freedoms contains restrictions that could--and in some instances did--inhibit the activities of some religious groups. The law provides for freedom of religious practice, including each person's right to profess his religion in any form.... However, the law prohibits "abusive proselytizing" and requires that religious groups register with the Government....

Other registered groups include: Roman Catholics; Baptists; Pentecostals; Seventh-Day Adventists; Jehovah's Witnesses; Bahá'ís; and Hare Krishnas.

MONGOLIA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
  • HRP 2000-01
The Constitution provides for freedom of conscience and religion, the right both to worship and not to worship, and the Government generally respects these provisions in practice; however, the law limits proselytizing, and some groups that sought to register have faced bureaucratic harassment.

Of the 260 temples and churches founded in the past 10 years, about 150 are registered, including 90 Buddhist, 40 Christian, and 4 Bahá'í, in addition to 1 Muslim mosque and other organizations.

  • IRF 1999
  • HRP 1998
Under the provisions of a 1993 law on relations between church and state, the Government may supervise and limit the numbers of both places of worship and clergy for organized religions, but there were no reports that it has done so. However, religious groups must register with the Ministry of Justice. The Government closed some Christian and Bahá'í places of worship for failing to register properly. Some groups encountered harassment during the registration process, including random demands by midlevel city officials for financial contribution in return for securing legal status. Even when registration was completed, the same authorities threatened some religious groups with withdrawal of approval....

MOROCCO

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
Islam is the official religion and, although the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, in practice only Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are tolerated officially. Bahá'ís face restrictions on the practice of their faith.

The small Bahá'í community has been forbidden to meet or participate in communal activities since 1983.

  • IRF 2001
  • HRP 2001
However, during the period covered by this report, no members of the Bahá'í community were reported to have been summoned to the Ministry of the Interior for questioning concerning their faith or for meeting, as had occurred in past years.
  • HRP 1999-2000
There were no reports during the year that the Government summoned members of the Bahá'í Faith for questioning or denied them passports, as had occurred in previous years.
  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999
During the period covered by this report, Interior Ministry officials summoned members of the small Bahá'í community for questioning concerning their faith and meetings; however, fewer Bahá'ís reportedly were summoned than in past years.

Bahá'í Community

  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 2000-01
Also located in Rabat and Casablanca, the Bahá'í community numbers 350 to 400 persons.

Travel

  • IRF 1999-2001
  • HRP 2000-01
...there were no reports during the year that the Government summoned members of the Bahá'í Faith for questioning or denied them passports, as had occurred in previous years.
  • HRP 1994
The Ministry of Interior restricts freedom to travel abroad in certain circumstances. It has refused to issue passports to certain citizens, including political activists, former political prisoners, and Bahá'ís. However, the Government has dramatically eased these restrictions in recent years.
  • HRP 1991-92
The Government has refused to issue passports to a number of Moroccans, including political activists, former political prisoners, and Moroccan Bahaíis.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 1999-2001
Because many Muslims view the Bahá'í Faith as a heretical offshoot of Islam, most members of the tiny Bahá'í community maintain a low religious profile. However, Bahá'ís live freely and without fear for their persons or property, and some even hold government jobs.

US Government Policy

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Ambassador and embassy officials also meet regularly with religious officials, including the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Islamic religious scholars, the leader of the Jewish community, and local Christian leaders and missionaries. The Embassy maintains contacts with the small Bahá'í community as well.

MOZAMBIQUE

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
Jewish, Hindu, and Bahá'í communities also are registered, and constitute small minorities.
  • IRF 1999-2001
The 4-year-old Forum of Religions, an organization for social and disaster relief composed of members of the Christian Council of Mozambique, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Muslim community, and the Bahá'í and Jewish temples is an example of interfaith cooperation. The goal of the forum is to offer collective assistance to the needy, without regard for creed.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 1999-2000

Many citizens consider the Bahá'í Faith to be a "new religion."

NEW ZEALAND

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The law provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001

According to 1996 census data, the following are the numbers and percentages of the population's religious affiliation: ... Bahá'í--3,111 (0.09 percent) ....

NIGER

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The July 1999 Constitution provides for "the right of the free development of each individual in their spiritual, cultural, and religious dimensions," and the Government supports the freedom to practice one's religious beliefs, as long as persons respect public order, social peace, and national unity.
  • HRP 1998-99
  • IRF 1999-2000
Christians (including Jehovah's Witnesses) and Bahá'ís practice freely.
  • HRP 1991
On December 3, the Bahá'í Faith was granted full legal status. Until then, it was practiced despite a 1984 law prohibiting it.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001
Numbering only a few thousand, the Bahá'ís are located primarily in Niamey and in communities on the west side of the Niger River, bordering Burkina Faso....

There have been some efforts made to promote interfaith understanding. For example, the Bahá'ís have sponsored religious tolerance campaigns which have garnered local press coverage.

US Government Policy

  • IRF 1999-2001

The Embassy maintains good relationships with minority religious groups, most of which are long-term resident missionaries and well-known members of the American community. Embassy personnel also have contact with the Catholic mission, the Bahá'í community, and Islamic organizations.

OMAN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
Islam is the state religion, and the Basic Charter preserves the freedom to practice religious rites, in accordance with tradition, provided that it does not breach public order. The Basic Charter also provides that Shari'a (Islamic Law) is the basis for legislation. The Government permits worship for non-Muslim residents; however, non-Muslim religious organizations must be registered with the Government, and the Government restricts some of their activities....

Citizens and noncitizen residents are free to discuss their religious beliefs; however, the Government prohibits non-Muslims from proselytizing Muslims. Under Islamic law, a Muslim who recants belief in Islam would be considered an apostate and dealt with under applicable Islamic legal procedure. Non-Muslims are permitted to change their religious affiliation to Islam. The authorities reportedly have asked members of the Bahá'í community not to proselytize, in accordance with the country's law and custom.

  • HRP 2000

In June the departure from the country of a foreign Bahá'í due to termination of his employment may have been hastened by the proselytizing activities of his wife. The authorities requested members of the Bahá'í community to sign statements that they will not proselytize, in accordance with the country's law and custom.

PAKISTAN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
The Constitution (which was suspended following the October 1999 coup) provides for freedom of religion, and states that adequate provisions shall be made for minorities to profess and practice their religions freely; however, the Government imposes limits on freedom of religion. Pakistan is an Islamic republic; Islam is the state religion. Islam also is a core element of the country's national ideology; the country was created to be a homeland for Muslims....

The Government fails in many respects to protect the rights of minorities. This is due both to public policy and to the Government's unwillingness to take action against societal forces hostile to those that practice a different faith.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001
Religious minority groups believe that they are underrepresented in government census counts. Official and private estimates of their numbers can differ significantly. Current population estimates place the number of...Bahá'ís at 30,000 [IRF 1999-2000: 12,000].

Travel

  • IRF 2001

Links with coreligionists in other countries are maintained relatively easily.... However, the Government prohibits Ahmadis from participating in the Hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia) and Bahá'ís from traveling to their spiritual center in Israel.

ROMANIA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, there are some restrictions, and several minority religious groups continued to claim credibly that low-level government officials and Romanian Orthodox clergy impeded their efforts at proselytizing, as well as interfered with other religious activities (see Section 5). The press reported several instances when adherents of minority religions were prevented by others from practicing their faith, and local law enforcement authorities did not protect them....

The Government requires religious groups to register, and government registration and recognition requirements pose obstacles to minority religions. To be recognized as a religion, religious groups must register with the State Secretariat for Religious Denominations and present their statutes, organizational, leadership, and management diagrams, and the body of dogma and doctrines formally stated by a religion. Representatives of religious groups that sought recognition after 1990 allege that the registration process was arbitrary and unduly influenced by the Romanian Orthodox Church, that they did not receive clear instructions concerning the requirements, and that often the time frame in which a decision on their application has to be made was not respected by the State Secretary of Religions. The Government has not granted any religious group status as a religion since 1990. The Organization of the Orthodox Believers of Old Rite, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Adventist Movement for Reform, the Bahá'í Faith, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) are some of the religious groups that have tried unsuccessfully to register as religions. The Bahá'í Faith stated that it has never received any answer to its repeated requests to be registered as a religious denomination.

SAUDI ARABIA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2001
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic monarchy without legal protection for freedom of religion, and such protection does not exist in practice. Islam is the official religion, and all citizens are Muslims. Based on its interpretation of the hadith, or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, the Government prohibits the public practice of non-Muslim religions. The Government recognizes the right of non-Muslims to worship in private; however, the distinction between public and private worship is not clearly defined, and at times the Government does not respect in practice the right to private worship....
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001

There were reports during the period covered by this report that authorities interrogated members of the tiny Bahá'í community regarding the size and status of their community, although there were no reports of any additional actions taken against them.

SEYCHELLES

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.
  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2000-01
In the past, the Government did not demonstrate favoritism toward one religion over another; however, in early 2000, the Seychelles National Party (SNP), which is the opposition political party and is led by an Anglican minister, claimed that the Government gave a grant of $164,000 (900,000 Seychelles Rupees) to the Bahá'í faith in 1999, following its incorporation. According to the SNP, this grant has not been offered to other faiths that have been established recently in the country. According to the Government, $192,000 (1 million Seychelles Rupees) of the national budget is allocated to provide assistance to faiths that request it. The grant to the Bahá'í faith was for the purpose of building a temple, and in the past, the Anglican, Hindu, and Roman Catholic faiths have benefited from government grants.
  • IRF 2000-01
In May 2000, the Government announced that its employees who are Bahá'í are allowed to take unpaid leave on Bahá'í holy days. This leave has not been available previously to members of the Bahá'í or other faiths. At the time of the announcement, the Government also stated that other religions could submit applications for the recognition of similar unpaid leave days. President France Albert Rene's wife of 10 years is a member of the Bahá'í Faith while the majority of the government ministers are Catholic.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
The Bahá'í local spiritual assembly was incorporated in 1999.
  • IRF 2000-01
The Government tends to remain outside of religious matters, but provides program time to different religious organizations on the national radio broadcasting service. On Sundays a radio broadcast of a Catholic Mass alternates each week with a broadcast of an Anglican service. All other faiths, including Islam, Adventist and Bahá'í, are entitled to a 15-minute radio broadcast one Sunday a month.
  • IRF 1999
On Saturdays, a 15-minute Bahá'í radio program alternates each week with an Adventist broadcast.

SPAIN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels generally protects this right in full and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

The 1978 Constitution, which declares the country to be a secular state, and various laws provide that no religion should have the character of a state religion. However, the Government treats religions in different ways. Catholicism is the dominant religion, and enjoys the closest official relationship with the Government.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001

There are a total of 899 non-Catholic churches, confessions, and communities in the register. In addition, there are also: ...Bahá'ís--2 entities and 12 places of worship....

SWAZILAND

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000
There are no formal constitutional provisions for freedom of religion; however, the Government respects freedom of religion in practice.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2000
Followers of Islam and the Bahá'í Faith generally are located in urban areas.

The Bahá'ís are the most active non-Christian missionaries.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 1999
The Bahá'ís challenge some influential Christian pastors' claim to exclusive and free access to the radio based on the royal family's Christian background. Although the issue has not been resolved due to the Government's indecision, it appears unlikely to develop into a serious conflict. Occasionally, letters to the editor appear in local newspapers arguing points of contention among the Christian, Islamic, or Bahá'í faiths.

TAJIKISTAN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, there are some restrictions, and the Government monitors the activities of religious institutions to keep them from becoming overtly political.
  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 2001
Members of the Bahá'í community were occasionally confronted by the police guard outside Dushanbe's Bahá'í Center and asked why they had forsaken Islam. Others were called in by the Ministry of Security and also asked why they had changed religious affiliation.
  • HRP 1998-2000
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, there are some exceptions. According to the Law on Freedom of Faith, the Committee on Religious Affairs under the Council of Ministers registers religious communities and monitors the activities of the various religious establishments.... Although unregistered, recently organized religious communities, such as Bahá'í and Hare Krishna groups function with no apparent formal restriction.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2000
Other religious minorities are very small and include Bahá'ís (four registered organizations)....
  • HRP 1993
Among those active in Tajikistan are the Islamic, Russian Orthodox, Jewish, German Roman Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, Baptist, and Bahá'í.

Societal Attitudes

  • HRP 2001
Some Muslim leaders occasionally have expressed concern that minority religious groups undermine national unity. Bahá'í and Hare Krishna groups experience limited discrimination.
  • HRP 2000
  • IRF 2001
There were no developments in the 1999 murder case of British national Abdullah Mugharebi, a resident of Dushanbe and leader of Tajikistan's Bahá'í community, who was widely believed to have been killed by Iranian-sponsored Islamic fundamentalists.
  • IRF 1999-2001
Bahá'í and Hare Krishna groups experience only limited prejudice. A prominent 88-year-old member of Dushanbe's Bahá'í community was killed in his home in September. Members of the Bahá'í community believe that he was killed because of his religion, since none of his personal possessions were taken from the murder scene. Police made no arrests, although militant Islamists aligned with Iran are considered likely perpetrators.
  • IRF 2001:

There were no new developments on this case during the period covered by this report.

TONGA

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice....
  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2000-01
The Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) maintains policy guidelines regarding the broadcast of religious programming on Radio Tonga. The TBC guidelines state that in view of "the character of the listening public" those who preach on Radio Tonga must confine their preaching "within the limits of the mainstream Christian tradition." Due to this policy, the TBC does not allow discussions by members of the Bahá'í Faith of its founder, Bahaullah, by name, or of the tenets of their religions.... This policy applies to all churches.... Members of the Bahá'í Faith utilize a privately owned radio station for program activities and the announcement of functions.
  • IRF 2001

A government-owned newspaper occasionally carries news articles about Bahá'í activities or events, as well as those of other faiths.

TUNISIA

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2000
Islam is the state religion. The Constitution provides for the free exercise of other religions that do not disturb the public order, and the Government generally observes and enforces this right; however, there were some restrictions and abuses....

The Government does not permit the establishment of political parties on the basis of Islam, prohibits proselytizing, and partially limits the religious freedom of Bahá'ís...

  • HRP 1998-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Government regards the Bahá'í Faith as a heretical sect of Islam and permits its 150 adherents to practice their faith only in private. Although the Government permits Bahá'ís to hold meetings of their National Council in private homes, it reportedly has prohibited them from organizing local councils. The Government reportedly pressures Bahá'ís to eschew organized religious activities.
  • HRP 2000-01
  • IRF 1999-2001
The Government also does not permit Bahá'ís to accept a declaration of faith from persons who wish to convert to the Bahá'í Faith. There were credible reports that four members of the Bahá'í Faith were interrogated by Ministry of Interior officials in 1999 and pressed to sign a statement that they would not practice their religion and would not hold meetings in their homes.
  • HRP 2000-01
There are credible reports that prominent Bahá'ís periodically are called in by police for questioning. [HRP 2001: however, the number of such incidents decreased during the year. ] The Government unofficially denied Bahá'í requests during the year for permission to elect local assemblies.
  • HRP 1991, 1993
Since 1984 there has been a ban on public Bahá'í religious activities because the Government considers this faith a heretical sect of Islam.

Travel

  • HRP 1994
However, the Government appears to have eased some other restrictions, which in the past included the denial of passports to Bahá'ís.

US Government Policy

  • IRF 1999-2001
The U.S. Embassy maintains good relations with leaders of majority and minority religious groups throughout the country, and the Ambassador and other embassy officials met regularly with Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Bahá'í religious leaders throughout the period covered by this report.
  • IRF 1999
The Department of State delivered a private demarche on alleged harassment of the Bahá'í community in June 1998, which appears to have resulted in greater government tolerance of Bahá'í activities.

TURKEY

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, it imposes some restrictions on religious minorities and on Muslim religious expression in government offices and state-run institutions, including universities. The Constitution establishes Turkey as a secular state and provides for freedom of belief, freedom of worship, and the private dissemination of religious ideas. However, these rights are restricted by constitutional provisions ensuring the integrity and existence of the State, and rejecting "discrimination on the basis of religion."
  • IRF 2001
The Bahá'í community has also faced problems with the police, including the January 2001 arrest of two men (one American) for allegedly proselytizing in Sivas. The men were released immediately, pending an investigation.
  • HRP 2001
At year's end, two university professors at Sivas' Cumhuriyet University faced expulsion for allegedly ignoring official duties due to Bahá'í related activities.

Bahá'í Community

  • HRP 2000
  • IRF 2000-01
About 99 percent of the population are Muslim, primarily Sunni. There are several non-Muslim religious minority groups; most are concentrated in Istanbul and other large cities. There are approximately...10,000 Bahá'ís....

Confiscation of Property

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
In February 2001, the Bahá'í community lost a legal appeal against government expropriation of a sacred site near Edirne, and brought the case to the High Administrative Court. The Ministry of Culture had granted cultural heritage status to the site in 1993, but in January 2000, the Bahá'í community was notified by the Ministry of Education that the property had been expropriated for future use by the adjacent primary school. The Ministry has deposited funds in the Bahá'í community's bank account for the expropriated property but the Bahá'í are continuing to fight the expropriation.
  • HRP 2000
  • IRF 2000
The Bahá'í community currently is fighting a legal battle against government expropriation of a sacred Bahá'í site near Edirne.... The court process is continuing, and the local administration court in Edirne recently rescinded its temporary stay of execution, which technically allows the Ministry of Education to implement expropriation. However, the Bahá'í appeal of the expropriation process continues.

Societal Attitudes

  • HRP 2001
  • IRF 2001
In January a local imam in Sivas criticized proselytizing by members of the Bahá'í faith. In his public remarks, he read a Koranic verse alluding to those "whose killing is necessary." The Bahá'í have pressed charges against the imam.

TURKMENISTAN

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1998-2000
  • IRF 2001
While it affirms a number of important religious freedoms, the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations, which was amended in 1995 and again in 1996, also provides for significant government control of religion. Religious congregations are required to register with the Government and must have at least 500 Turkmen citizens over the age of 18 as adherents to be registered. This requirement has prevented all but Sunni Muslims and Russian Orthodox Christians from setting up legal religious organizations. Moreover the Government applies this 500-member standard on a local basis. A religious group must have at least 500 adherents in each city in which they wish to be registered.
  • HRP 2001
Nonregistered religious congregations are present in the country, including Bahá'ís, Baptists, Hare Krishnas, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Pentecostals, among others; however, the Government restricts their activities. They are prohibited from establishing churches and from conducting religious activities including gathering, proselytizing, and disseminating religious materials. The Government's interpretation of the law also limits their ability to meet in private homes. While the Law on Religious Organizations does not prohibit nonregistered religious groups from gathering, government permission is required for any mass meetings or demonstrations for religious purposes.
  • HRP 1998-2000
  • IRF 2001
This restriction also has caused problems for a number of minority religions, including the Bahá'í Faith, which was registered by the Government in 1994 only to be deregistered in 1997 when the threshold was raised to 500 adherents. Members of the Bahá'í Faith have been prevented from conducting services since 1997 and, in 1997 and 1998, were questioned by internal security representatives for holding private prayer meetings in their homes.
  • IRF 2001
The Bahá'í community, whose members had been prevented from conducting services since 1997, gathered publicly to celebrate Novruz Bairam in March 2001, and sent a delegation from Turkmenistan to Israel in June 2001 to participate in the opening ceremony of a Bahá'í garden in Haifa.
  • HRP 2000
Although the local Bahá'í community in Ashgabat was able to open its center for 1 day in March 1999 to celebrate the Faith's Nowruz (spring) holiday, this year the community believed that they would not be permitted to open for Nowruz and therefore did not request permission to open. However, the local Bahá'í community in Ashgabat was able to conduct a memorial service at a local restaurant in January.
  • IRF 2000
The local Bahá'í community in Ashgabat was able to conduct a memorial service at a local restaurant in January 2000.

In June 1999, representatives of internal security organizations also visited the Bahá'í center and warned its members not to distribute religious materials....

Members of the Bahá'í Faith have been questioned by internal security representatives for holding private prayer meetings in their homes.

  • HRP 1998
  • IRF 1999
The local Bahá'í community in Ashgabat was able to open its center for a single day to celebrate the Faith's Nowruz (spring) holiday in March 1998 and again in March 1999....
  • IRF 1999
The Government's Council on Religious Affairs does not actively promote interfaith dialog although its representatives attended the opening for a single day of the local Bahá'í center in Ashgabat in March 1999.
  • HRP 1999
  • IRF 1999
In June [1998] representatives of internal security organizations visited the Bahá'í center in Ashgabat as part of the Government's attempt to control the activities of unregistered religious groups and warned its members not to distribute religious materials.

Societal Attitudes

  • IRF 2001
Turkmen culture historically is tolerant and inclusive of different religious beliefs. For example, in the early part of the 20th century, Ashgabat was a refuge for members of the Bahá'í Faith escaping persecution in Iran, and the first Bahá'í temple was built in Ashgabat.

US Government Policy

  • IRF 1999
In August 1998, embassy officers met with the head of the President's Institute for Democracy and Human Rights to discuss the onerous registration requirements for minority religions and the possibility of reducing the number of adherents necessary for registration for certain historical religions. In February 1999, embassy officers also met with the head of the Institute to discuss the harassment of adherents of the Bahá'í Faith by authorities from the internal security services.

UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS

Freedom of Religion

  • HRP 1991

In 1991 there was continued progress toward freedom of religion....

The visibility of religion increased dramatically.... It was common to see public proselytizing in major cities, including street stands with placards calling passersby to rejoin and revitalize the Russian Orthodox Church, persons speaking about their Protestant faith, and appeals from adherents of such groups as the Hare Krishna and the Bahá'í Faith.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000-01
The federal Constitution designates Islam as the official religion, and Islam is also the official religion of all seven of the constituent emirates of the federal union. The federal Constitution also provides for the freedom to exercise religious worship in accordance with established customs provided that it does not conflict with public policy or violate public morals, and the Government generally respects this right in practice and does not interfere with the private practice of religion; however, it limits the number of officially recognized religions, controls virtually all Sunni mosques, grants only a small number of Christian denominations recognition, prohibits proselytizing, and restricts the ability of nonrecognized religions to conduct business as organized groups.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
All of the country's citizens are Muslims, with approximately 85 percent followers of Sunni Islam and the remaining 15 percent followers of Shi'a Islam....

Although no official figures are available, local observers estimate that approximately 55 percent of the foreign population are Muslim, 25 percent are Hindu, 10 percent are Christian, 5 percent are Buddhist, and 5 percent are a mixture of other faiths, including Ismailis, Parsis, Bahá'ís, and Sikhs (most of whom reside in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi).

  • IRF 1999
Other religious communities (mostly expatriates residing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi) include Ismailis, Parsis, and Iranian Bahá'ís....
  • HRP 1999-2001
  • IRF 1999-2001
In 1998 Abu Dhabi emirate donated land for the establishment of the country's first Bahá'í cemetery.

UNITED KINGDOM

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000
Government policy provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The 1998 Human Rights Act, which is to enter into force in October 2000, incorporates the principle of religious freedom into law. The Church of England and the Church of Scotland are established churches.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999-2001
The country has both active interfaith and ecumenical movements.... The Interfaith Network was established in 1987 and links a wide range of religious and educational organizations with an interest in interfaith relations, including the national representative bodies of the Bahá'í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Zoroastrian communities.

UZBEKISTAN

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 1999-2001
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion and for the principle of separation of church and state; however, in practice the Government only partially respects these rights. The Government perceives unofficial Islamic groups or mosques as extremist security threats and outlaws them. The Government permits persons affiliated with mainstream religions, including approved Muslim groups, Jewish groups, the Russian Orthodox Church, and various other denominations, such as Catholics and Lutherans, to worship freely and generally registers more recently arrived religions. However, the religion law forbids or severely restricts activities such as proselytizing and importing and disseminating religious literature....

The law also requires that all religious groups and congregations register and provides strict and burdensome criteria for their registration. In particular it stipulates that each group present a list of at least 100 Uzbek citizen members (compared with the previous minimum of 10) to the local branches of the Ministry of Justice. This provision enables the Government to ban any group simply by denying its registration petition.

  • IRF 2001
A number of minority religious groups, including a variety of Christian confessions, Bahá'í, and Hare Krishna, had difficulty satisfying the strict registration requirements set out by the law.
  • IRF 2001
The 178 registered minority religious groups include.... 7 Bahá'í....
  • HRP 2000
The 174 registered minority religious groups include.... 7 Bahá'í
  • IRF 2000
The Committee on Religious Affairs has approved the registration of 170 minority religious groups including.... 5 Bahá'í.....
  • IRF 1999
As of March 1, 1999, the Government had received 1,700 applications for registration from Muslim congregations. As of mid-year, 1999, it had approved registration for 1,510 Muslim, 119 Christian (out of 132 applications), and 11 other (Jewish and Bahá'í) congregations or groups....

On the other hand, the Committee on Religious Affairs has approved the registration of at least six Baptist congregations, as well as Jewish, Russian Orthodox, Seventh-Day Adventist, Bahá'í, Presbyterian, Pentecostal ("Full Gospel"), and other Christian churches. Several of these congregations had fewer than the required 100 members but received exemptions from the requirement.

VIETNAM

Freedom of Religion

  • IRF 2000
Both the Constitution and government decrees provide for freedom of worship; however, the Government continued to restrict significantly those organized activities of religious groups that it declared to be at variance with state laws and policies. The Government generally allowed persons to practice individual worship in the religion of their choice, and participation in religious activities throughout the country continued to grow significantly. However, government restrictions on the hierarchies and clergy of most religious groups remained in place, and religious groups faced difficulties in training and ordaining clergy, publishing religious materials, and conducting educational and humanitarian activities. The Government requires religious groups to register and uses this process to control and monitor church organizations....

In recent years, the conditions faced by Bahá'ís have improved in some localities where Bahá'ís have been able to practice their faith quietly with local permission. However, a Bahá'í community in Danang was unable to obtain approval of its recent application for registration of official religious activities.

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 2000-01
There are estimated to be between from several hundred to 2,000 Bahá'í believers, largely concentrated in the south; prior to 1975, there were an estimated 130,000 believers, according to Bahá'í officials.

YEMEN

Bahá'í CommunityHRP: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices IRF: Annual Reports to Congress on International Religious Freedom Bahá'í Community

Bahá'í Community

  • IRF 1999
There are no longer credible reports of a Bahá'í community in northern Yemen.
  • HRP 1998
Apart from a small but undetermined number of Christians and Hindus in Aden, and a few Bahá'ís in the north, Jews are the only indigenous religious minority.
  • HRP 1993
Apart from several Adeni Christian families and 20-30 underground Bahais in the north, Jews are Yemen's only indigenous religious minority.
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