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Chronology of the Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths and related history

This chronology is an updated, expanded version of A Basic Baha'i Chronology by
Glenn Cameron and Wendi Momen. To help add or correct entries, contact Glenn.
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century:18 - - decade:184 - year:1848 month:1848-03 day:1848-03-03

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2022 Ridván - 2031 Ridván In a letter dated 25 November 2020 the Universal House of Justice announced a Nine Year Plan to begin at Ridván 2022.
  • It will be heralded by the convocation of a series of conferences held over a span of months across the globe. [25 November 2020] [key]
  • BWC Teaching Plans; Nine Year Plan (2022-2031)
    2022 7 Jan The conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members will coincide with the lapse of one hundred years since the first public reading of the Will and Testament of the Master. [25 November 2020]

    The Counsellors in all continents will be called to the Bahá’í World Centre in December 2021 to take part in deliberations on the general features of the Plan to be launched the following Riḍván. At the conclusion of that gathering, they are to be joined by members of the Auxiliary Boards for Protection and Propagation to consult on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and on the decisive role that the Counsellors and their auxiliaries are to play in meeting them. [From a message from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World dated 29 October 2020] [key]

    BWC Abdul-Baha, Will and Testament of; Conferences, Counsellors; Centenaries; Teaching Plans; Nine Year Plan (2022-2031)
    2021 21 - 28 Nov The Centenary Commemoration of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The celebrations will include a special gathering at the Bahá’í World Centre to which representatives of every National Spiritual Assembly and every Regional Bahá’í Council will be invited.

    The pilgrimage programme will therefore be suspended from 22 November to 1 December 2021 and from 3 to 11 January 2022. In addition, brief visitors may not visit the Holy Land from 10 to 30 November 2021 and from 28 December 2021 to 8 January 2022.

    Prior to the celebration there will be the release of two films: the first of these will be a portrait of the Person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Besides being a tribute to His life and work, it will explore how, by championing the oneness of humanity through His words and deeds, He offered a challenge to the stale assumptions and prejudices of the age, and gave stimulus to a process of unification which continues to this day. A second film, following soon after the first, will reflect on the expiration of the first hundred years of the Formative Age from the vantage point of the heights to which the Bahá’í community has climbed, and from where it can now gaze upon new horizons. [Ridván 2018; 25 November 2020]

    BWC Centenaries; Abdul-Baha, Passing of
    2021 19 Jun A Twitter storm under the hashtag of #StopHatePropaganda and running from 5pm to 7pm GMT, 9.30pm to 11.30pm Tehran time, aimed to draw global attention to a 40-year campaign of hate speech conducted by the Iranian government against the Baha’i community in Iran, the country’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. Iran Press Watch; Iran Press Watch; BWNS1519] [key] Geneva Persecution, Iran; Baha'i International Community; twitter; BWNS
    2021 check for dup The Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation aired a short report on the progress of the construction of the local Bahá'í House of Worship for the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The report can be found from 13:47 to 15:37 on the news report. [Facebook Post by VBTC] [key] Tanna; Vanuatu Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    2021 13 Jul In response to the Iranian government's continued campaign of hate speech, the Bahá'í International Community launched a new microsite of The Bahá’ís of Iran website called Raasti (Truth). It was set up to provide accurate information, including from independent sources, in an effort to respond to baseless accusations and misinformation produced by the machinery of propaganda targeting the Bahá’ís in Iran.
  • In addition, video released by the BIC called on people to join the global outcry over the persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran, launching the hashtag #StopHatePropaganda on Twitter. [BWNS1519] [key]
  • Geneva Baha'i International Community; Persecution, Iran; Twitter Storm
    2021 8 Jul The Bahá'í International Community made representation to the United Nations or the Iranian government to be held accountable for its campaign of hate speech against the Baha’is in Iran. In previous months, the four-decades long state-sponsored campaign of hate speech and propaganda reached new levels, increasing in both sophistication and scale. This provoked fresh concerns for the rights of the Baha’is in Iran, as history had shown that flagrant violations of human rights often take place in a climate of hate and disinformation following such propaganda efforts.

    The websites and social media channels are compounded by videos, print newspaper articles and other written media, books, seminars, exhibitions, graffiti and fatwas from both official outlets and others sponsored by the government but purporting to be independent. [Bahá'í International Community News]

    Since 2017, more than 33,000 pieces of toxic anti-Bahá’í content have been published or broadcast. In recent years, hundreds of websites and dozens of social media accounts have systematically attacked the Bahá’í community, misrepresenting Bahá’í beliefs in a manner designed to cause maximum offence to Iran’s Muslim-majority population. [CiJA Statement on Iranian anti-Baahá'í Campaign] (The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations across Canada.)

    António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, in his 2019 Plan of Action to Combat Hate Speech, said that “[h]ate speech is a menace to democratic values, social stability and peace. As a matter of principle, the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn. Silence can signal indifference to bigotry and intolerance, even as a situation escalates and the vulnerable become victims.”

    Incitement to hatred is prohibited under international treaties that Iran itself has ratified, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. [United Nations Plan of Action on Hate Speech]

    The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR) and Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) strongly condemn the increase in anti-Bahá'í propaganda disseminated by Iranian state-run media. A recent report by the Bahá'í Community of Canada found that “Iran’s state-sponsored campaign of hatred against the Bahá’'í Faith has been on the rise across all media platforms, including the web, social media, radio, newspapers, and television.” On the 20th of July they issued a joint statement from Professor Irwin Cotler, Founder and International Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Mr. Ali Ehsassi, Member of Parliament (House of Commons of Canada) and Mr. Anders Österberg, Member of the Swedish ParliamentFounding Member of PGA’s Parliamentary Rapid Response Team (PARRT).

    See the report entitled State-sponsored hate propaganda against Iranian Bahá’ís published by the Office of Public Affairs of the Bahá’í Community of Canada.

    Geneva Baha'i Internacional community; United Nations; Persecution, Iran; Hate Speech; Irwin Cotler; Ali Ehassi; Anders Osterberg
    2021 6 Jul The Bahá'í World Centre released an update on the construction of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Baha:
  • The eight pillars of the central edifice have been completed and scaffolding was being set up in the space between the pillars and the completed folding walls for work on the trellis that will span the central plaza.
  • The folding walls on the west side of the central plaza were also complete and were being joined with one of the portal walls of the south plaza.
  • Preparations were beginning for the work of building an intricate trellis across the central plaza.
  • A semi-circle of folding walls enclosed one side of the central plaza at this time. The second set of folding walls was being built, mirroring the first on the opposite side of the plaza. The completed set of folding walls were being joined with one of the portal walls of the south plaza.
  • The foundations have been constructed for the path encircling the Shrine. The space between the path and the walls will eventually be filled with a sloping garden berm.
  • Progress has been made on garden planters in the north plaza area. The encircling path will intersect the garden planters. [BWNS1517]
  • See an aerial view of the design.
  • Baha'i World Centre Abdul-Baha,Shrine of; BWNS
    2021 18 Jun The publication of The Bahá'ís in Yemen: From Obscurity to Persecution and Exile by Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen, Casey Coombs, Abdullah Olofi. Yemen The Baha'is in Yemen: From Obscurity to Persecution and Exile; Persecution, Yemen; Maysaa Shuja Al-Deen; Casey Coombs; Abdullah Olofi
    2021 8 Jun Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Bahá'í Iranian motocross champion Shahrzad Nazifi, a Bahá'í citizen, to 8 years in prison. The court was also banned Mrs. Nazifi from leaving the country for two years. As a complementary punishment, the court also obliged Mrs. Nazifi to provide services to the mentally disabled for three months, four hours every day. The following charges were brought against her: “Managing illegal groups with the aim of disrupting the country’s national security” and “incorrect motive and inner desire to destroy the religious system”. Shahrzad Nazifi is an Iranian motocross champion of Baha’i faith, born in 1971 and living in Tehran. She and her daughter Nora Naraghi are among the pioneers of women‘s motocross in Iran.

    On November 18, 2018, the clerical regime’s intelligence forces arrested Shahrzad Nazifi and her daughter on the motorcycle track. They ransacked the Nazifi residence for about 5 hours and took some personal belongings with them. In May 2019, Mrs. Nazifi and other family members were barred from attending motorcycling tracks, participating in competitions, and exercising with a motorcycle without receiving a court order. [HRANA website] [key]

    Tehran Shahrzad Nazifi; Persecution, Iran; Nora Naraghi
    2021 3 Jun The passing of John Kolstoe in Livingstone, Montana. [Bahá'ís of Montana and Surrounding Areas Facebook page]

    John was raised in a Lutheran family, and studied psychology at University. He and his wife, Beverley, became Bahá'ís in 1953 and John attended the New Delhi Intercontinental Teaching Conference the same year. He had been intending to conduct research in the field of Psychology on cognitive modalities, but felt that pioneering for the Faith was more important after attending the Conference, and volunteered to pioneer to Alaska. John and Beverley moved to Alaska in 1953.

    He was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska in the late 1950's and served on the body until 1960, when he and Beverley pioneered to Fort Yukon, where they lived for three years. He went on pilgrimage to Haifa in 1960 and met Ruhiyyih Khanum, and told her a story about meeting Dr. Hubert Parris, which she encouraged him to put in writing. He eventually did so when he wrote the book Crazy Lovers of Bahá'u'lláh.

    In 1962 he co-wrote a pamphlet on the Faith titled Bahá'í Teachings: A Light For All Regions with Peter Simple, the second Athabaskan Indian to become a Bahá'í in Yukon. The Kolstoes moved from Fort Yukon to Fairbanks and John was re-elected to the Alaskan National Assembly in 1963. He was elected Chairman of the Assembly in 1972, and represented the Assembly at the Dedication of the Matthew Kaszab Institute in November that year.

    In 1975 he wrote twelve articles on the Covenant for Alaska Bahá'í News which eventually served as the basis for the book The Covenant and You. In July 1976 he opened the International Bahá'í Conference held in Anchorage. The Kolstoes left Alaska in 1985 and pioneered to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. John's wife Beverley passed away in Alaska in 1996. In 2001 John re-married, marrying Janet J. Smith. [Bahaipedia]

    A list of his publications includes:

  • He has a number of talks on YouTube
  • Livingston,MT; United States John Kolstoe; in Memoriam
    2021 23 May The dedication of the first local Bahá’í House of Worship in Africa in Matunda Soy, Kenya. The project had been completed in under three years in difficult circumstances.

    The ceremony was attended by some one hundred people including government officials, village and district chiefs, local dignitaries, representatives of local and national Bahá’í institutions, and other representatives of the construction team including Neda Samimi, the architect. The Universal House of Justice was represented by Townshend Lihanda, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors in Africa.

    The previous day a small ornamental case containing dust from one of the Holy Shrines at the Bahá’í World Centre was placed within the structure of the House of Worship symbolizing the profound connection between the temple and the spiritual center of the Bahá’í Faith. [BWNS1511]

  • Photos.
    Specifics
      Location: Matunda Soy district in Kenya
      Foundation Stone: 23 March 2019
      Construction Period:
      Site Dedication: 23 May 2021
      Architect: Neda Samimi
      Architectural firm:
      Seating: 250
      Dimensions:
      Cost:
      Dependencies: Existing buildings will be repurposed as educational facilities and as offices for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
      References:
  • Matunda Soy; Kenya Local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar; Neda Samimi; Townshend Lihanda
    2021 15 May The publication of The Bahá'í Faith and African American History: Creating Racial and Religious Diversity edited by Loni Bramson with contributions from Christopher Buck and Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis. It was published by Lexington Books. The Baha'i Faith and African American History: Creating Racial and Religious Diversity; Loni Bramson; Christopher Buck; Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis
    2021 13 May The Bahá'í World Centre published an update on the construction of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá advising that the first two columns of the main edifice had been raised. Eight columns of these 11-metre columns will eventually be built forming part of the walls of the main edifice and supporting the trellis that will span the central plaza.

    They reported as well that the first three of the ten segments of the folding walls that will surround the central plaza had been built. Each of these segments must be constructed one by one. [BWNS1509] [key]

    BWC Abdul-Baha, Shrine of
    2021 10 May The publication of two new articles in The Bahá'í World:
  • “Reading Reality in Times of Crisis: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Great War” looks at how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s analysis of the crises of His time was profoundly distinct from contemporaneous “progressive” movements and thinkers. The author, Amín Egea, describes how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s warnings about the causes of war could not be understood by societies immersed in paradigms of thought totally different from the ones He presented.
  • “Paying Special Regard to Agriculture: Collective Action-Research in Africa”; The author, Sanem Kavrul, focuses on Bahá’í social action efforts in the field of agriculture in Africa, surveying developments across the continent and focusing on several specific examples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • BWC Baha'i World; Amin Egea; Sanem Kavrul
    2021 30 Apr A volume of newly translated tablets (76) penned by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá entitled Light of the World; Selected Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá was released online and in print.
  • It was made available in a variety of formats online, PDF, DOCX, and HTML.
  • BWC Light of the World (book)
    2021 27 Apr The National Spiritual Assembly of the United States provided guidance on the question of the vaccination for the coronavirus. They included five letters from the Universal House of Justice on the subject. [27 April 2021]
  • [10 July 2020]
  • [8 December 2020]
  • [15 December 2020]
  • [11 February 2021]
  • [26 February 2021] [key]
  • United States Vaccination; Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2021 26 Apr It was reported that the murder case of Ata’u’llah Rezvani, a Bahá'í citizen of Bandar Abbas, had been referred to Branch 6 of the Bandar Abbas Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office for retrial, eight years after the incident took place. This case had been removed from the archives of the Bandar Abbas court for investigation after years of sabotage and judicial procrastination. [Iran Press Watch] [key] Bandar Abbas; Iran; Ata’u’llah Rezvani; Persecution, Iran
    2021 Ridván The formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Timor-Leste with its seat in Dili. [Ridván 2021 p8]
  • The Timorese Bahá’ís were anticipating the National Assembly’s election when the country was struck by Cyclone Seroja. Severe floods began on 4 April, bringing tragic loss of life across the country from landslides and mosquito-borne diseases. [[key]
  • Dili; Timor-Leste National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    2021 Ridván The formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Croatia with its seat in Zagreb. [Ridván 2021 p8; BWNS1506] [key] Zagreb; Croatia National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    2021 - 2022 The Twelve Month Plan

    At Riḍván 2021, the followers of Bahá’u’lláh will embark on a Plan lasting a single year. Brief, but pregnant with portent, this one-year endeavour will begin a new wave of Plans bearing the ark of the Cause into the third century of the Bahá’í Era. During the course of this auspicious twelvemonth, the Bahá’í world’s commemoration of the centenary of the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will include a special gathering at the Bahá’í World Centre to which representatives of every National Spiritual Assembly and every Regional Bahá’í Council will be invited. This, however, is to be but the first in a sequence of events that will prepare the believers for the demands of the decades to come. The following January, the elapse of one hundred years since the first public reading of the Master’s Will and Testament will be the occasion for a conference in the Holy Land bringing together the Continental Boards of Counsellors and all members of the Auxiliary Boards for Protection and Propagation. The spiritual energy released at these two historic gatherings must then be carried to all the friends of God in every land in which they reside. For this purpose, a series of conferences will be convened worldwide in the months that follow, a catalyst to the multi-year endeavour that shall succeed the coming One Year Plan. [Ridván Message 2018] [key]

    BWC Teaching plans; Twelve Month Plan (2021-2022)
    2021 8 Apr The Bahá'í World Centre announced the completion of a two-year project of seismic strengthening and restoration work on the House of ‘Abbúd. Bahá'u'lláh and His family moved to the house next door, the House of ‘Údí K̲h̲ammár, in 1871. In March of 1873, the owner of the adjacent house, Ilyás `Abbúd, offered to provide a room in his house for `Abdu'l-Bahá and Munírih Khánum after their marriage. He did this by opening a door in a contiguous wall. Later in 1973 'Abbud moved to the mansion at Bahji and the two houses fully were joined. The building had last been restored in the 1950's by the Guardian in preparation to receive pilgrims.

    The restoration work was done to reproduce the House exactly as it had been when the Holy Family occupied it. No effort was spared. Even traditional glass-blowing techniques were used to produce the windowpanes. [BWNS1501] [key]

    BWC House of ‘Abbud; House of ‘Údi K̲h̲ammar; Ilyas `Abbud; Pilgrimage
    2021 Ridván The National Spiritual Assembly of São Tomé and Principe was re-established. [Ridván Message 2021 p8]
  • São Tomé and Principe was a secular state in which the freedom of conscience, religion and worship was deemed inviolable according to the constitution that was put into effect in 2003. However, religious groups had to register with the government. If a religious group did not register, it was subject to fines and possible expulsion if it was of foreign origin. To register, a group had to have at least 500 members. It is speculated that the National Spiritual Assembly had to cease operations sometime after this went into effect. [US State Department 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom: Sao Tome and Principe] [key]
  • Sao Tome; Principe National Spiritual Assembly, formation
    2021 15 Mar Bahá'í International Community in Geneva released a video statement addressed to the UN Human Rights Council to respond to developments in Qatar. Over the past several years, a number of Bahá’í individuals and families in Qatar have been blacklisted solely because of their adherence to the Bahá’í Faith. This has resulted in the deportation of several of these individuals from the country leaving many stateless as some Bahá'í families have been in the country for four generations, pre-dating the formation of the state itself. As well, residency permits of non-Qatari Bahá'ís have also been denied, or not renewed, despite their employers or sponsors supporting them to remain in the country. This pattern of deportation is tantamount to religious cleansing and more recently, they seem to be targeting the Bahá'í leadership.

    The Bahá'í community of Qatar and the BIC have previously raised these cases with Qatari officials and Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee. The authorities have alleged without evidence to UN Special Rapporteurs and diplomats, who had raised concerns, that these cases are unrelated to each other and had each been a national security concern. [BIC Video Statement; BIC News 31Mar21] [key]

    Qatar Persecution, Qatar;
    2021 9 Mar The publication of Without Hesitation: An Account of an Iraqi Prisoner of Conscience by Anisa Abdul-Razzaq Abbas and translated by Alhan Irwin. It was published by One Voice Press.

    On a December day in 1973, Anisa Abdul-Razzaq Abbas heard a knock at the door of the Baghdad home she was visiting. She opened the door to greet two men from the Iraqi Al-Amn security force, who immediately placed her under arrest. Her crime: being a member of the Bahá'í Faith, Over the next six years, Anisa would spend three years in Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison and a further three years in Al-Rashaad prison before her release in 1979. During her years of incarceration, Anisa would rely on her faith to meet the myriad challenges of prison life. Day after day, she and her fellow-prisoners experienced levels of cruelty and injustice that most would find unthinkable. Separated from her husband, who was being held in the men's prison, and from her children, Alhan and Ruwa, who were without both parents, Anisa was sustained through her darkest days by the love of her family, and by the strength and solidarity offered by her fellow Bahá'í prisoners.*Anisa's story is one of patience, courage, and steadfastness in the face of religious prejudice and state-sponsored oppression, and it is a reminder to us all of the resilient strength of the human spirit. *Their eldest child, Abir was attending university in Sulaimaniyyeh after serving a six month sentence.

    Without Hesitation; Anisa Abdul-Razzaq Abbas; Alhan Irwin; Ruwa Pokorny; Abir Abbas; Persecution, Iraq
    2021 9 Mar Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, presented his report to UN’s Human Rights Council detailing the scale of human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime in Tehran against members of many groups in the country. (It should be noted that his requests to visit Iran were denied and so he compiled his report using data collected from government, non-governmental and media sources. He also interviewed victims of abuses, along with their families and lawyers.) In the report he revealed that women, girls, human rights advocates, ethnic minorities, writers, journalists and people with dual nationality are among those targeted by the regime. They faced abuse, torture, arbitrary detention, harassment, forced confessions, and even the death penalty. What follows are some of the details of his report:
  • Women: Females suffered as a result of deep-rooted discrimination in law and day-to-day life. Domestic violence, acid attacks, patriarchal values and misogynist behaviours, discriminatory legal provisions were among the issues women faced. Women’s rights advocates, both women and men, including those who campaign against compulsory veiling laws were targeted. The enforcement of veiling laws by the police, Basij militia and vigilante “morality police” has often resulted in violence against women, including acid attacks and murder.
              Rehman’s report also detailed how blatant gender discrimination permeated almost all aspects of the law and daily life in Iran, including marriage, divorce, employment and culture, with the result that women are treated as second-class citizens. He called on the Iranian government to repeal discriminatory laws and ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. Iran is one of the few states not to have signed it.
  • Child marriages: In just six months during the previous year, 16,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 were married in Iran. Girls as young as 13 could marry in Iran with their father’s permission, and at an even younger age if authorized by a judge.
  • Protesters: There has been a brutal crackdown by security forces on protesters during the nationwide demonstrations on November 19th. Firearms were used “in a manner that amounted to a serious violation of international human rights law,” resulting in the deaths of more than 300 people, including women and children. In the days following the protests the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps raided homes, hospitals, schools and workplaces to arrest demonstrators, including children, and crush what Iranian officials described as “a very dangerous conspiracy.” More than 7,000 detainees were held in secret facilities without access to lawyers, many of them in solitary confinement where they were tortured, starved and forced to make false confessions. The targeting of relatives in an effort to force human rights activists to halt their campaigning has been widely documented.
  • Capital punishment: He also voiced concern about the high rate of death sentences in Iran, especially the execution of child offenders, and the recent cases in which protesters received the death penalty. There have also been reports of secret executions in connection with the protests “following unfair trials and after the systematic use of torture to extract forced confessions.”
  • The targeting of human rights activists, journalists, labour rights campaigners, dual and foreign nationals, and lawyers.
  • Violation of the right to freedom of expression: The “authorities” repeatedly disrupted telecommunications. Telegram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are “permanently blocked and inaccessible without circumvention tools, in an attempt to prevent protesters from revealing regime abuses to the world. Internet shutdowns and the blanket blocking of websites and applications represent a violation of the right to freedom of expression.
  • Minorities: There was ongoing discrimination against ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. The report included details of executions and enforced disappearances of political prisoners from ethnic minorities. Bahá’í have been arrested for membership in the Faith and many Gonabadi Dervishes also remain in prison.
  • Forced evictions: Many ethnic minorities have been evicted and their homes have been destroyed.
  • Since completing his report further “disturbing incidents” involving the targeting of minorities have come to light, including: more than 20 executions of Baloch prisoners; the “suspicious” death of a Dervish follower; excessive use of force against protesters in Sistan and Balochistan province; the detention of 100 Kurdish activists, and house raids and land confiscations targeting members of the Baha’i faith. Individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender also experience human rights violations and widespread discrimination.
  • COVID-19: The Iranian government has continued the targeting of journalists and writers who report on subjects such as corruption and the COVID-19 pandemic. Health experts who question the regime’s management of the health crisis also reportedly face prosecution or losing their jobs. Although international sanctions have hampered Iranian efforts to respond to the pandemic, it criticized the government’s “opaque and inadequate coronavirus response which has resulted in excess deaths, including the deaths of medical workers who were left to fend for themselves without sufficient protective equipment.” Detainees were also abandoned in “overcrowded and unhygienic” prisons. According to the World Health Organization, in June 2020 there were 211,000 prisoners in Iran’s state prisons, 2.5 times the official capacity.
  • The Report: English; French.
  • New York; New York; Iran Persecution, Iran; United Nations; Javaid Rehman
    2021 4 Mar Singapore’s National Heritage Board (NHB) has added the Bahá’í Nineteen Day Feast to its intangible cultural heritage list following a national mandate to document and preserve the diverse cultural expressions of the island nation. [BWNS1494] [key] Singapore
    2021 28 Feb The Bahá'í World News Service provided an update on the construction of the Local Temple in Matunda Soy. [BWNS1493]
  • The project was entering the final stages of construction. The exterior of the temple was nearly complete, as were auxiliary structures on the grounds.
  • Skylights have been installed on all nine sides of the roof of the temple, and roof tiles are being placed, creating a diamond motif familiar to Kenyan culture.
  • The interior and exterior of the temple’s nine doorways were being decorated with wood and paster.
  • Construction of the reception center and other facilities on the site are nearly complete,
  • Residents of the area were assisting to prepare the gardens around the temple, carrying out tasks with reverence as they regularly gather on the grounds for prayers.
  • Matunda Soy; Kenya BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kenya
    2021 28 Feb The Bahá'í World News Service provided an update on the construction of the National Temple in Kinshasa. [BWNS1493]
  • The reinforced concrete slab that will form the floor of the central edifice has been finished and the moisture barrier has been laid.
  • Work on additional buildings on the site was steadily advancing.
  • Earthworks were being prepared for the grounds outside the central area.
  • A visitors’ center was being built near the entrance to the site.
  • Elsewhere on the site, several existing buildings were being renovated. One building was being used as a construction office. In the future, these buildings will be used as educational facilities and as offices for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Kinshasa,DRC BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, National; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kinshasa
    2021 26 Feb In a letter to a National Spiritual Assembly the Universal House of Justice addressed the question of vaccination calling it a "social responsibility" and concluded that ultimately it it an individual decision whether to take it or not. [26 February 2021] [key] Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2021 21 Feb In a message to all National Assemblies the Universal House of Justice advised that about half of the $75m for the construction of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá had been secured and they estimated that it would take an additional two years to finish the project. [Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada 26 February 2021] [key] BWC Abdul-Baha, Shrine of
    2021 21 Feb The ground breaking ceremony for the first local Mashriqul-Adhkar in India was held in Bihar Sharif. The ceremony marking the start of construction of the local House of Worship brought together local dignitaries, representatives of the Bahá’í community and residents of the area. The groundbreaking ceremony culminated with the placing of soil collected from villages across the state of Bihar at the temple site. This gesture was evocative of the connection between the thousands of residents of these villages and the House of Worship. [BWNS1491] [key] Bihar Sharif; India Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    2021 15 Feb In an update on the construction of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá it was reported that the first steps had been taken to raise the walls of the central plaza. [BWNS1489] [key] Akka; Abdul-Baha, Shrine of
    2021 11 Feb In a message to an individual the Universal House of Justice responded to the question as to what a Bahá'í is to do in face of the misinformation that is so common in the world today. They quoted Bahá'u'lláh:

    In these days truthfulness and sincerity are sorely afflicted in the clutches of falsehood, and justice is tormented by the scourge of injustice.

    as well as:

    ...thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour.

    They encouraged us to rely on science and the independent investigation of truth but not to let differing opinions among the believers lead to division. [11 February 2021] [key]

    Covid-19 (Corona virus); Misinformation; Science; Independent investigation of truth
    2021 8 - 17 Feb The 59th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD59) took place from 8 to 17 February 2021 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The Commission is the advisory body responsible for the social development pillar of global development. At the conclusion of the session four draft resolutions, all without a vote, were forwarded to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for consideration, including one that addressed this year’s priority theme for the 46-member subsidiary body — the role of digital technologies on social development and the well-being of all. [59th Session]
  • The Bahá'í International Community presented a statement and a video entitled Reflections of Our Values: Digital Technologies and a Just Transition.

    The Bahá'í International Community partnered with the United Arab Emirates and the NGO Committee on Social Development to host an online event entitled “Artificial Intelligence: Ethical Dimensions of the Virtual World”. Drawing more than 100 diplomats, policy makers, and civil society actors, the panel discussion was organized under the auspices of the United Nations’s 59th session of the Commission for Social Development. It responded to the Commission’s focus on the role of digital technologies in providing for the well-being of all. [BWNS1487] [key]

  • New York; NY United Nations; Baha'i International Community
    2021 5 Feb More than 40 prominent members of Canada’s legal community, including former Supreme Court judges and justice ministers, have penned an open letter to the Chief Justice of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, in order to draw attention to what they call “an alarming new chapter” in Iran’s state-sanctioned persecution of its Bahá'í religious minority. Their letter came in response to a series of court rulings in 2020 that sanctioned the confiscation of the properties of dozens Bahá’ís in the village of Ivel in northern Iran justifying the seizure and sale of land on the grounds their religion denies them the right to own property. [Globe & Mail 8Feb21]
  • For a complete report see Land confiscation and mass displacement of Bahá'ís in Iran.
  • For the letter and the list of signatories see Open Letter to the Chief Justice of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney included his signature on this open letter. [BWNS1488]
  • Letter from the American Islamic Congress.
  • Iran Press Watch.
  • Open letter by Nobel Laureate Torsten Wiesel.
  • Statement by Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra Chair of the Virtues Ethics Foundation and one of the leading Islamic scholars in the United Kingdom.
  • A "Twitter Storm" was organized using #ItsTheirLand on the 22nd and 23rd of February.
  • The Canadian Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, said his government was “concerned” by the ruling, urging Iran to “eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief.” The call was echoed by officials in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Brazil, the United States, the European Parliament and the United Nations.
  • Support also came from the All India Tanzeem Faiahul Muslimeen and the all India Safi Association. [BWNS1480]
  • See the letter of support from South Africa's Legal Resources Centre. The LRC was established in 1979 to use the law as an instrument of justice, challenging the legal structures of apartheid. Since its inception, the LRC has always engaged in strategic legal interventions aimed at ensuring that all persons regardless of the race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation realise and enjoy their fundamental human rights.
  • Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief, said he stood in solidarity with the Bahá’ís in Iran “who are facing systemic persecution [and] egregious rights violations.” [BWNS1495]
  • A webinar was held at the European Parliament on the situation in Ivel with participation from European Union officials and a former UN Special Rapporteur, Miloon Kothari. Additionally, the Chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Iran, Cornelia Ernst, called the Bahá’ís a “particularly vulnerable community” and condemned the Iranian government’s “disastrous policies towards the Bahá’ís.” [BWNS1495]
  • The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights strongly condemned the continued persecution of the Bahá'í community in Iran. [Iran Press Watch]
  • Canadian MPs from all five political parties recorded a video calling on the Iranian authorities: “Enough is enough”. [Iran Press Watch] [key]
  • Ivel; Mazandaran; Iran Persecution, Iran
    2021 3 Feb To mark the 25th anniversary of the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action that resulted from the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, the Bahá'í International Community released a film that reflected on the advances made toward the goals for gender equality articulated in the declaration.
    The feature-length film called Glimpses into the Spirit of Gender Equality premiered at a virtual screening before a gathering of UN officials, ambassadors of member states, non-governmental organizations, and other civil society actors.
      “The film examines advances in the area of equality of women and men at the level of the grassroots and their connection with the conversations that have been unfolding at the UN, drawing on examples inspired by Bahá’í community-building efforts in different countries around the world,” said Saphira Rameshfar, Representative of the BIC.
  • The film available on YouTube. [BWNS1485]
  • For the response to this film see BIC News.
  • New York Baha'i International Community; film; Equality of men and women; Saphira Rameshfar; Glimpses into the Spirit of Gender Equality
    2021 31 Jan Some 30 traditional chiefs from the area gathered in the village of Baro to discuss the future of their people. This was one of a continuing series of gatherings that were initiated by the Bahá'í community in collaboration with traditional leaders about two years ago.
    The consultations at the conference allowed the chiefs to examine many different societal issues, while drawing in part from the experience of the Bahá’ís of Chad in their community-building efforts. The moral education of children and youth, educational programs, the evolution of culture, and solving disagreements among people were some of the issues they addressed in their consultation. [BWNS1484] [key]
    Baro; Chad Discourses of Society
    2021 29 Jan Mr Turaj Amini began serving his sentence at the Central Prison in Karaj, Mehrshahr, located about an hour northwest of Tehran. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment and two years in exile on charges of “propaganda against the regime.” He was taken to prison as the coronavirus outbreak was growing again in the city. Amini was not granted the right to take any of his personal belongings with him. Amini's wife suffers from acute multiple sclerosis and he was her carer.

    In July 2019 agents from the Ministry of Intelligence entered Mr. Amini’s home and confiscated his books and computer. A year later, in August 2020, Mr. Amini was sentenced to a one-year term of imprisonment and two years of exile. That sentence was reduced to a six-month term of imprisonment at the Alborz Province Appeal Court.

    Mr Amini was denied access to higher education however he was been able to make a significant contribution in the field of Iranian history. Among his publications are:

    • Documents on Contemporary Iranian Zoroastrians
    • Documents on the Bahá'ís of Iran, a five-volume collection of governmental documents pertaining to the Bahá'ís of Iran
    • The Reciprocal Discourses of the Iranian Religious Minorities and the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1911
    • Hidden Resurrection: An Exploration of the Babi and Bahá'í Faiths’ Relationship with Iran’s Intellectual Movements

    An open letter written on behalf of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and signed by some 40 North American Islamic/Persian scholars was addressed to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, Head of the Judiciary calling on them to end such abuses, to promptly release Mr. Amini, and to return his computer and books so that he could resume his work and continue to make scholarly contributions that benefit all those who support and admire Iran and its peoples. [Telegraph posting 3 April 2021; Iran Press Watch; Iran Wire]

  • The Association for Iranian Studies also sent a letter on the 11th of February 2021 as did the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) on the 16th of March 2021.
  • Karaj; Iran Persecution, Iran; Touraj Amini
    2021 26 Jan In a progress report the World Centre advised that the concrete bases that will support the two garden berms on either side of the central plaza for the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were complete. The structural reinforcement and formwork for one of the walls enclosing the south plaza was also taking shape.
  • See reference for photos. [BWNS1483] [key]
  • BWC Abdul-Baha, Shrine of
    2021 13 Jan The Continental Board of Counsellors has informed all National Spiritual Assemblies in Europe that the Universal House of Justice has determined that, exceptionally, the new five-year term for Auxiliary Board members will this year begin on 1 July 2021 rather than on the Day of the Covenant. This is to provide the Auxiliary Board members with sufficient time to make preparatory arrangements for the conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members called for in January 2022. [UK Bahá'í News 13 January 2021] [key] BWC Auxiliary board members and assistants
    2021 (In the year) By 2021 the situation for the Bahá'ís in Egypt had not changed much. The constitution identified Islam as the state religion and the principles of Shari’a as the primary source of legislation. While Article 64 stated that “freedom of belief is absolute,” only Muslims, Christians, and Jews can practice their religion publicly and build places of worship. Of the country’s estimated 104 million people, around 90 percent were Sunni Muslims, and non-Sunni Muslims, such as Shi’a Muslims, comprised less than 1 percent. An estimated 10 percent were Christians, the majority of whom belonged to the Coptic Orthodox Church; other Christians belong to various denominations that include Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical Protestant, Maronite, Armenian Apostolic, Greek and Syrian Orthodox, and others. There were at least 2,000 Bahá'ís, approximately 1,500 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and fewer than 20 Jews. [US Commission on International Religious Freedom-Annual Report 2021 p67; Persecution.org] [key] Egypt Persecution, Egypt
    2020 (In review) The Bahá'í World News Service published 2020 In Review. BWC BWNS
    2020 16 Dec The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing “serious concern about ongoing severe limitations and increasing restrictions on … recognized and unrecognized religious minorities including … members of the Bahá'í faith.”
          The resolution, approved by U.N. member states by a vote of 82-30, with 64 abstentions, also called upon Iran to stop the “denial of and restrictions on access to education” for members of recognized and unrecognized religious minorities, “including for members of the Baha’i faith.”
          Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh responded to the U.N. vote by expressing “abhorrence of the deep-rooted hypocrisy” of the resolution’s 45 co-sponsors, which include the U.S., Israel, Canada, Australia and other U.S. allies in Europe and the Pacific. He also called on the resolution’s co-sponsors to “stop their interventionist and immoral behavior” toward Iran and unspecified other nations. [Iran Press Watch] [key]
    New York; NY; Iran Persecution, Iran; United Nations,
    2020 15 Dec In a letter to an individual the Universal House of Justice stated that an individual Bahá'í could not refuse a governmental mandate of vaccination on religious grounds. [15 December 2020] [key] Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2020 8 Dec In a letter to an individual on the advisability of taking the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine the Universal House of Justice stated that the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts. [12 December 2020] [key] Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2020 6 Dec The presentation of a webinar at the Wilmette Institute by Jan Teofil Jason entitled 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the "Other". In his presentation he discussed the newspaper coverage given 'Abdu'l-Bahá during his Western Tour, the influence of xenophobia on that coverage, and the challenges facing scholars in recovering those publications.
  • A PDF of his speaking notes was been made available.
  • Wilmette; IL Abdul-Baha, Travels of; Abdul-Baha, Second Western tour; Abdul-Baha, Talks at public places; Abdul-Baha, Talks to ethnic groups
    2020 5 Dec The Austrian Bahá’í Office of External Affairs launched a new vlog that will explore issues of national concern in Austria. It was titled “Themes that move Austria,” and such topics as environmental protection, migration, social cohesion, and the role of youth in social transformation will be the subject of discussion. See the video featuring Dr Leyla Tavernaro of the Office of External Affairs in the referenced link. [BWNS1471] [key] Austria Public discourse; Internet; BWNS
    2020 The paintings of Maryam Safajoo depict the many forms of persecution faced by the Bahá'ís of Iran. She has exhibited her work at venues including Harvard University, the Massachusetts State House and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She has been interviewed by Voice of America, BBC, Radio Farda, Iran Wire, Iran Press Watch, the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre and Persian Bahá'í Media Services about this current persecution. Boston Herald wrote an article about her life. She currently lives in Champaign, Illnois.
  • See her story in Iranwatch.
  • Champaign; Illinois; United States Persecution, Iran; Arts
    2020 25 Nov The release of Creating an Inclusive Narrative, a publication of the Australian Bahá’í community. Hundreds of discussion were held all across the country to consider the future of their country. The results of the meetings were reported in this document.

    The Bahá’ís of Australia embarked on the two year project to facilitate discussion on social cohesion and related questions with hundreds of participants—including officials, organizations of civil society, journalists, and numerous social actors—across all states and territories.

    The project began in 2017 and by 2018 the Office of External Affairs had become more engaged. With the encouragement of different social actors and government departments, the idea for Creating an Inclusive Narrative began to take shape. Australia is a country of over 80 ethnic and racial groups in more than 417 localities and the process had to involve diverse voices from different realities throughout the country—east and west, rural and urban, and from the grassroots to the national level. In order for this to scale, many people were involved as facilitators. It was important that facilitators were residents of the areas in which gatherings were taking place ensuring their familiarity with local issues and concerns. This approach meant that facilitators and participants could continue their discussions in between the monthly gatherings, resulting in growing enthusiasm and interest among participants to continue the process. The project eventually sustained monthly gatherings concurrently across several states, resulting in a total of 50 roundtables. [BWNS1504; BWNS1470; BWNS1498]

  • The document is available in PDF format
  • Australia Creating an Inclusive Narrative (publication)
    2020 22 Nov Over a hundred government agents raided the shops and homes of tens of Baha'is across Iran, on 22 November 2020, and demanded that they hand over their property deeds. The simultaneous raids were staged in at least seven cities around the country and came just hours into a 15-day national lockdown imposed to slow coronavirus infections in the country.

    The raids took place in the capital Tehran, as well as Karaj, Isfahan, Mashhad, Kerman, Shahin-Shahr and Baharestan. Witnesses reported that the agents ignored all the government’s own health protocols while at the homes of the Baha'is. [BIC News] [key]

    Tehran; Isfahan; Mashhad; Kerman; Shahin-Shahr; Baharestan; Iran Persecution, Iran
    2020 20 Nov Hamed bin Haydara told Al-Sharea daily newspaper that “The Houthis are applying a policy of silent extermination of our cultural and social heritage. This is a type of systematic religious cleansing crime. The Houthis are applying the same radical ideologies that they learnt in Iran, which deems members of religious minorities heretics. There is no country in the world that has persecuted the Baha'is like Iran and the Houthis. There is a great similarity between persecution against us in Iran and Sana'a, as both use the same methods of persecution, rhetoric, rumors and lies against the Bahá'ís,” he said. Hamed bin Haydara and five others were expelled from Yemen in July.

    Note: Al-Shari 'newspaper is an independent newspaper publishing since 2007 in Sana'a. In 2015 it was forced to stop publishing due to harassment and threats received by the Houthi militia and resumed its daily publication from Aden. [Arab News 20/11/2020] [key]

    Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Hamed bin Haydara
    2020 20 Nov The Bahá'í World News Service released a progress report on the construction of the Mashriqul-Adhkar in Port Moresby.

    After the laying of the foundations which was completed last December, work progressed on an intricate steel structure for the central edifice that traces the unique weaving pattern of the exterior. An innovative design for the steel dome, devised by Werkstudio, an engineering firm based in Germany and Poland, will provide the required strength with an economical use of material.

    The structural system will interfaces with the nine entrance canopies that provide lateral strength to the temple. This system, parts of which are nearing completion, will eventually support a steel dome mesh that will at its apex reach a height of approximately 16 meters above floor level.

    Designs were being finalized for wood panels that will adorn the entrances of the temple, using local timber. Planning is also under way for gardens that will surround the central edifice.

  • Photos.
  • Video.
  • Port Moresby; Papua New Guinea Mashriqul-Adhkar, Port Moresby; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, National; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Design; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Architecture; BWNS
    2020 16 Nov Progress report for the construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was issued by the World Centre. [BWNS1467]
  • Video.
  • Photos.
  • BWC Abdul-Baha, Shrine of
    2020 2 - 6 Nov The Geneva Office of the Bahá’í International Community joined with civil society actors, academics, and representatives of UN agencies and international organizations to contribute to discussions on peace-building initiatives around the world at Geneva Peace Week, an annual event that has been held since 2014.

    In a seminar held by the Office, three members of the Bahá’í community with expertise in the fields of governance, economics, and the environment explored some of the implications of the BIC statement, A Governance Befitting, and its call for a “global civic ethic.” The BIC presenters were: Maja Groff, an international lawyer based in The Hague, Netherlands, Augusto Lopez-Claros, executive director of the Global Governance Forum, and Arthur Lyon Dahl, president of the International Environment Forum. [BWNS1465]

  • Photos.
  • Geneva; Switzerland Bahai International Community
    2020 Nov The release of the film The Mystery of God. It was written by Linda Marshall Youssefian and Nadia Ferrorini Cucè, and was directed and edited by Vargh Mazlum.
  • Vargha Mazlum has been involved in music and media for over 30 years, first as a singer/violinist in the musical band Light in the Darkness and then as a producer in China and Italy. Recently more involved in video/film development, historical research, editing and directing. His documentaries explore the lives of prominent historical Bahá'ís. [Bahá'í Chronicles]

    One of his previous productions was a film about Carole Lombard and another was called Liao Chongzhen: A Bright Candle of the World of Humanity.

  • See Wikipedia Liao Chongzhen.
  • Documentaries; The Mystery of God; Linda Marshall Youssefian; Nadia Ferrorini Cucè; Vargh Mazlum; Carol Lombard; Liao Chongzhen
    2020 29 Oct The Universal House of Justice announced an increase in the number of members of the Continental Board of Counsellors from 81 to 90. The names of those appointed for a five-year term to commence on the Day of the Covenant, the 25th of November 2020 were as follows:

    AFRICA (20 Counsellors): Mélanie Bangala, Mariama Ousmane Djaouga, Alain Pierre Djoulde, Agatha Sarinoda Gaisie-Nketsiah, Augustino Ibrahim, Mati Issoufou, Hamed Javaheri, Jacques Tshibuabua Kabuya, Musonda Kapusa-Linsel (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Linnet Sifuna Kisaka, Townshend Lihanda, Izzat Abumba Mionda, Maina Mkandawire, Judicaël Mokolé, Amélia Mujinga Ngandu, Nsika Mutasa, Michael Okiria, Nancy Oloro Robarts, Djamila Tchakréo, Jean- Pierre Tshibangu

    THE AMERICAS (21 Counsellors): José Luis Almeida, Ayafor Temengye Ayafor, Louis Boddy, Natasha Bruss, Beatriz Carmona, Brígida Carrillo, Ingrid Umpierre Conter, Blas Cruz Martínez, Daniel Duhart, Farah Guchani-Rosenberg, Sonlla Heern, Badí Hernández, Irene Iturburo, Nwandi Ngozi Lawson, Ada Micheline Leonce Ferdinand, Borna Noureddin (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Arthur Powell, Pejman Samoori, Bernardino Sánchez, William Silva, Margarita Valdez Martínez

    ASIA (27 Counsellors): Yam Prasad Acharya, Jamil Aliyev, Bhavna Anbarasan, Walid Ayyash, Marjini Deraoh, Gulnara Eyvazova, Shareen Farhad, Nadera Fikri, Kam Mui Fok Sayers, Rahul Kumar, Nicholas Loh, Parimal Mahato, Tarrant Matthew Mahony, Uttam Mitra, Myint Zaw Oo, Faris Naimi, Sokuntheary Reth, Foad Reyhani (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Artin Rezaie, Hesham Saad, Niroshani Saleh, Omid Seioshanseian, Dregpal Singh, Zebinisso Soliyeva, Ircham Sujadmiko, Fang Jung Tseng Chung, Ozoda Zoidova

    AUSTRALASIA (10 Counsellors): Bob Ale, Latai ‘Atoa, Ritia Kamauti Bakineti, Kirk Johnson, Jalal Rodney Mills, Taraz Nadarajah, Daniel Pierce, Kessia Ruh, Vahid Saberi, Tessa Scrine (Trustee of the Continental Fund) To the Bahá’ís of the World 2 29 October 2020

    EUROPE (12 Counsellors): Raffaella Capozzi Gubinelli, Aistė Elijio, Orlando Ravelo Hernández, Varqá Khadem, Shirin Youssefian Maanian, Sabà Mazza, Veranika Medvedeva, Hedyeh Nadafi-Stoffel, Yevgeniya Poluektova, Mehdi Rezvan, Amir Saberin (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Paul Verheij

    The Universal House of Justice paid tribute to those retiring members:
    Vugar Alizadeh, Naisan Azimi, Ronny Brenes, Olga Daradur, Jabbar Eidelkhani, Clément Thyrrell Feizouré, Shirin Fozdar-Foroudi, Zoraida García Garro, Bernard Lo Cascio, Lee Lee Loh Ludher, Sehla Masunda, Nibras Sarmad Moqbel, Aggrey Zeyazi Munubi, Delafruz Nassimova, Ahmad Parsa, U’ileiuluwehi Pimental, Iharinirina Rakotomavo, Carmen Elisa de Sadeghian, Rajan Sawant, Mark Sisson, Christopher Kiprotich Songok, Raúl Taboada, Henry Tamashiro, Shabnam Tashakour

    BWC Continental Board of Counsellors
    2020 21 Oct The Bahá'í International Community launched the statement entitled A Governance Befitting: Humanity and the Path Toward a Just Global Order on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The launch event, which welcomed some 200 attendees across the world, was an invitation to further exploration and one of many contributions the BIC is making to discussions about the need for systems of global cooperation to be strengthened. [BWNS1461]

    The statement, which was released in September, highlights the need for systems of global cooperation to be strengthened if humanity is to address the serious challenges of our time and seize the immense opportunities of the coming years for progress.

  • YouTube
  • New York, NY; United States United Nations; Statements; BIC statements; Bahai International Community
    2020 18 Oct The groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future national Mashriqul-Adhkar was held at the temple site near Kinshasa. The event, which coincided with the celebration of the Birth of Báb, was broadcast on national television and was host to government officials, representatives of religious communities and traditional chiefs. [BWNS1460]
  • Photos of the event. [BWNS]
  • The design of the national Bahá'í House of Worship of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[BWNS1438] [key]
  • Kinshasa; Congo, Democratic Republic of (DRC) BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, National; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kinshasa
    2020 13 Oct The Mazandaran Court of Appeal, in northern Iran, validated the expropriation of 27 Baha'i farming families, settled since the 19th century in the village of Ivel. Bahá'í inhabitants had already been expropriated in 1983 and 2010. Since then, the remaining Bahá'í families had to apply for permits to use their property. land, lead their herds and collect the nuts grown in their orchards. The decision marks the end of all legal remedies and validates their final expulsion from the village. [Teller Report] [key] Ivel; Iran' Persecution, Iran
    2020 8 Oct Ehsan Yarshater, a Persian academic scholar and a historian and linguist by training, founded the Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, New York in 1968. The center changed its name later to the Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies. He dedicated his life to creating the Encyclopedia that would cover anything Iranian studies related – a comprehensive reference for Iranology. He began to physically publish Encyclopaedia Iranica in 1973 with the first volume becoming available in 1981.

    Approximately 7,100 articles have been published in print or online in the Encyclopedia of Iranica after four decades. If one includes cross-reference, the total of entries would be over 9,000.

    In 1990, Professor Yarshater established the Encyclopædia Iranica Foundation to ensure the continuation of this comprehensive scholarly work. He was the Foundation’s President until his passing at the age of 98 in 2018.

    Columbia University and the Encyclopædia Iranica became involved in two lawsuits: In the first, Columbia University asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to rule that Columbia owned the copyright of Encyclopedia of Iranica. In the second the EIF accused Columbia university of infringing Iranica’s copyrights and misusing their trademarks. A year later, in July 2020, the court granted the EIF a temporary restraining order to prevent Columbia from using the “Encyclopaedia Iranica” name connected with its publications. As a result, Columbia University had to stop publishing facsimile 6 of Volume XVI of the encyclopedia. The restraining order was lifted in October 2020.

    The ruling by the New York court not only granted the Yarshater Center at Columbia University the right to publish Encyclopaedia Iranica but by implication viewed Columbia as the legitimate holder of Iranica’s copyright. The legal battle continues. [Radio Maneh] [key]

    New York; NY Encyclopædia Iranica; Columbia University; Ehsan Yarshater
    2020 1 Oct The release of the documentary film Nasrin, about the Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, in the USA. [IMDB; Wikipedia]

    The American screenwriter, director and producer Jeff Kaufman and his co-producer, Marcia S. Ross, were unable to get visas to travel to Iran themselves. They relied on their on-the-ground film crew as well as calls with Sotoudeh and her husband Khandan. The film took four years to make and is essential viewing. Everyone involved, including Sotoudeh, put themselves in jeopardy by agreeing to participate in the project, but clearly, for them, the importance of its message outweighed the risk of arrest. The project also had to forego crowdfunding or fundraising of any kind in order to keep the film secret and protect those involved.

    Sotoudeh has been called “the Nelson Mandela of Iran.” [Forbes] ,

  • The film was released for VOD on the 26th of January 2012. See an interview with the director, Jeff Kaufman and the producer, Marcia Ross in Awards Daily 26 January 2021.
  • United States; Iran Documentaries; Film; Nasrin; Nasrin Sotoudeh; Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Human rights
    2020 29 Sep A progress report on the construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was released. The project continued to progress with appropriate health measures in place to protect the safety of all the personnel from the pandemic.

    The central foundation of 2,900 square metres was completed in a single concrete pour. It is supported by deep underground piles.

    Next the base will be laid for the sloping gardens that will rise from the encircling path to culminate over the spot where the sacred remains of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá will rest.

    Permits have been obtained for the final stages of construction. [BWNS1454]

  • Video.
  • Akka Abdu'l-Baha, Shrine of
    2020 28 Sep The passing of former Universal House of Justice member James Douglas Martin (b. 24 February 1927 in Chatham, Ontario) in Toronto. [CBNS]

    He was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada from 1960 to 1985 and served the last twenty years as the general secretary. In 1985. He was appointed director-general of the Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information at the World Centre. He served in that capacity until 1993 when he was elected to the Universal House of Justice. He retired from the House of Justice in 2005 due to considerations of age and related needs of the Faith. [BWNS1455]

  • In 1984 he co-authored the introductory text,The Bahai Faith: The Emerging Global Religion with his friend William S Hatcher.
  • His essay, The Missionary as Historian: William Miller and the Bahá'í Faith was a review of William McElwee Miller’s book The Bahá'í Faith: Its History and Teachings.
  • His series of talks entitled Historical Consciousness and the Divine Plan was packaged as a compact disc and has been made available on Bahá'í Library.
  • His paper Persecution of the Bahá'ís of Iran 1844-1984 published in Bahá'í Studies in 1984 is available in PDF.
  • His article Humanity's Coming Encounter with Baha'u'llah was published in American Bahá'í in 1992.
  • In 1998 his article Bahá'í Faith was published in Canadian Encyclopedia.
  • The Mission of the Bab: Retrospective 1844-1944 as published in Bahá'í World. [BW23p193]
  • Toronto; Canada; Chatham; Ontario Douglas Martin; In Memoriam; Universal House of Justice, Members of
    2020 25 Sep The passing of former Universal House of Justice member Farzam Arbab (b. 1941 in Tehran) in San Diego where he had been living.

    He completed an undergraduate degree at Amherst College, Massachusetts in 1964 and obtained a doctorate in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1968 before settling in Colombia as a pioneer.

    From 1970 until 1980 he served as the Chairman for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Colombia. In 1980 he was appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors for the Protection and Propagation of the Faith in the Americas, on which he served for eight years. In 1988, he was named to the Bahá’í International Teaching Centre and was a member of that body until 1993, when he was first elected to the Universal House of Justice. He served until his retirement in 2013.

    He served as president of Fundacion para la Aplicacion de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC), a nongovernmental development agency in Colombia, from 1974 to 1988, and continued to serve on its board of directors until the end of his life. [BWNS1453; Bahaipedia]

  • Documents by Dr Arbab.
  • Scientific documents by Dr Arbab.
  • San Diego; United States In Memoriam; Farzam Arbab; Universal House of Justice, Members of
    2020 24 Sep The passing of former member of the International Teaching Centre Violette Haake (b.1928 in Iran) in Melbourne, Australia. She served in the United States and in Australia in the role of Auxiliary Board Member, as a Continental Counsellor in Australasia and ten years as a member of the International Teaching Centre. [BWNS1452] [key] Melbourne; Australia Violette Haake; In Memoriam
    2020 23 Sep Progress report on the construction of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
  • A tower crane was erected on the site to facilitate the work of laying the foundations for the edifice. Photo.
  • The support piles that had been driven deep at the center of the site were capped with a layer of concrete to provide stability for the structure to be erected above. Photo.
  • The foundations that will support the north and south entrances leading toward the central structure and the walls that will enclose an inner garden area were taking shape. Photo.
  • The detailed designs needed for future work are taking their final shape while preparations for further stages of construction have begun. Initial tests are underway on innovative techniques needed to build the intricate marble-clad trellis and skylights that will stretch out from the central structure to the surrounding gardens. [BWNS1419]
  • An aerial photo of the site.
  • BWC Abdu'l-Baha, Shrine of
    2020 22 Sep The Association for Bahá’í Studies UK launched a new website. The core focus was on creating and supporting special interest groups: groups that correlate Bahá’í teachings to discourses in society through activities that range from informal study and discussions to publications and seminars. London; United Kingdom Bahai Studies, Associations for
    2020 21 Sep The German news agency DW obtained a leaked document that appeared to be the minutes of a meeting that was held in the city of Sari in Iran's northern province of Mazandaran. According the document, 19 representatives of key Iranian agencies, including the intelligence services and the police, as well as state authorities responsible for business, commerce and education, gathered in the northern province of Mazandaran for a meeting of the so-called Commission for Ethnic Groups, Sects and Religions. The stated aim: "To gain control over the misguided movement of the perverse Bahá'í sect." The document confirms that the persecution was nothing less than official government policy and that there was a concerted strategy in place in which a government authority provided direction to a whole range of other agencies. When an accusation is made that the persecution of the Bahá'ís is state policy they usually sidestep the issue by saying that there are "various tendencies and groupings in Iranian society' who find the Bahá'í offensive."
  • For the village of Ivel, the home of one of the oldest Bahá'í communities in Iran, the persecution began in earnest in 1983 when they were first driven out when trucks and bulldozers moved in and destroyed fifty houses. They have made periodic visits to the village since that time to tend to their crops and herds. [DW 8Mar21; BIC News 10Mar21]
  • Sari; Iran; Ivel; Iran' Persecution, Iran,
    2020 21 Sep The Bahá'í International Community issued a statement entitled A Governance Befitting: Humanity and the Path Toward a Just Global Order on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. [BIC Publications]
  • The PDF was made available in English.
  • The statement was released following the UN75 Global Governance Forum that was held on the 16 and 17th of September with the theme “the future we want, the UN we need”. [UN2020]
  • New York; United States Bahai International Community; United Nations
    2020 18 Sep The passing of Talat Bassari (b. 1923 Babol, Iran) in Los Angeles. She was an Iranian Bahá'í poet, feminist, academic, and writer with a doctorate in Persian language and literature. She was the first woman to be appointed as vice-chancellor of a university in Iran when she worked at the Jondishapur University in Ahvaz (1956–1979). In the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in Iran and because of her Bahá'í faith, she was dismissed from her university position and eventually migrated to the United States.

    In addition to her critiques on Persian literature she published a biography of Zandokht Shiraizi, a pioneer in the feminist movement in Iran. She resided in New Jersey where she worked on the editorial board of the New Jersey-based magazine, Persian Heritage. Bassari also assisted in books on the life of Táhirih and contributed with Persian to English translations in academia. [Wikipedia]

    Los Angeles; United States; Iran In Memoriam; Talat Bassari; Literature; Women; Tahirih
    2020 24 Aug Wildfires caused widespread destruction in California in the summer of 2020. The National Assembly of the United States informed the Bahá'í community that “the property (Bosch Bahá'í School)sustained severe damage to a number of structures; many were a total loss, including the cabins. However, several other buildings, including most of the major structures, appear to have been spared.”

    “Bosch has for several decades served as a vital center of learning and inspiration,” the letter continued. “We have no doubt that, once the present difficulties are overcome, it will once again become a place radiating the light of the unifying teachings of our Faith and a source of spiritual power for the entire region.” [US Bahá'í News}

    Bonny Doon; California Bosch Baha'i School
    2020 30 Jul It was announced that Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, Mr. Akram Ayyash, Mr. Kayvan Ghaderi, Mr. Badiullah Sanai, and Mr. Wael al-Arieghie, prominent Bahá'ís that had been imprisoned by the Houthi authorities in Sana’a, were released from prison in Sana’a. Their years-long incarceration on charges of espionage and heresy had drawn worldwide condemnation.
  • Following their release, the Bahá'í International Community called for the lifting of all charges against these six individuals and the other Bahá'ís that had been charged, the return of their assets and properties, and the safeguarding of the rights of all Bahá'ís in Yemen to live according to their beliefs without risk of persecution. [BIC News 30 July 2020]
  • The release of the six came four months after the Shiite Houthis announced they had commuted the death sentence of Hamed bin Haydara and ordered his release, as well as that of the other five detainees. The six men were flown out of Yemen to Ethiopia late on Thursday, said bin Haydara’s wife, Alham. It was reported that they were living in “safe” locations in Europe, receiving medication for wounds and diseases that they contracted during their detention inside Houthi prisons. [San Francisco Chronicle 30 July 2020; Arab News 20/11/2020]
  • The six had been detained at various times:
        Mr. Haydara, an engineer, was arrested because of his beliefs at his workplace in December 2013. Following a long court case that lacked due process, he was sentenced to death in 2018. His appeal was rejected in 2020.
        Mr. Ghaderi, a project officer, was arrested in 2016 when a gathering was raided.
        In April 2017, Mr. Waleed Ayyash, a Yemeni tribal leader, was arrested on his way to Hudaydah and was held in an undisclosed location.
        The following month, Mr. Al-Arieghie, a civil rights activist, was abducted by the authorities in Sana’a.
        Mr. Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer in Yemen in his late 60s, was arrested in front of his workplace.
        In October 2017, Mr. Akram Ayyash, a manager of a nonprofit organization, was arrested during a raid by security forces on a Bahá'í celebration.
  • In September 2018, these five, along with nineteen others, were indicted at a court hearing in Sana’a under baseless charges. [BWNS1443]
  • Diane Ala'i, representative of the Bahá'í International Community, expressed gratitude to the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for their support. [The National]
  • Upon their release they were immediately exiled from the country. [AL Monitor 10 August 2020]
  • Following another court hearing on 22 August 2020 the charges against the six men were not dropped and the prosecution declared the recently released men as “fugitives” despite the fact that their departure from Yemen had been a condition of their release. The prosecution asked the bailors to ensure the compulsory attendance of five of them at the next hearing scheduled for the 12th of September. [BIC News] [key]
  • Sanaa; Yemen; Ethiopia Persecution, Yemen; Hamed bin Haydara; Waleed Ayyash; Akram Ayyash; Kayvan Ghaderi; Badiullah Sanai; Wael al-Arieghie; Bahai International Community
    2020 22 Jul The Universal House of Justice addressed a message to the Bahá'ís of the United States on the subject racism in their country. [22 July 2020]
  • Audio version.
  • BWC; USA Racism
    2020 10 Jul In a message to an individual the Universal House of Justice stated that a Bahá'í was required to obey the civil laws mandating vaccination. [10 July 2020] [key] Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2020 3 Jul The passing of Sir Earl Cameron (b. 8th August 1917 in Pembrooke Parish, Bermuda) at his home in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
  • Earl went to Britain in 1939 and after a stint in the British merchant navy rose to fame in the 1951 movie Pool of London, where he played a merchant sailor who falls in love with a white woman. It was the first major role for a Black actor in a British mainstream film and also dealt with the topic of a mixed-race relationship, generally acknowledged as the first such portrayal in a British film. He went on to star in movies and TV shows including the 007 film Thunderball, Dr. Who, The Queen, Saffire, and Inception to name but a very few. His acting career spanned seven decades and included stage, screen, and television. As an artist and actor, he refused to accept roles that demeaned or stereotyped the character of people of colour.
  • He became a committed Bahá'í in 1963 when a friend took him to an event at the time of the World Congress in London and subsequently pioneered to the Solomon Islands. After returning to Britain his acting career experienced a revival, with a key role in the 2005 United Nations thriller The Interpreter as an African president accused of war crimes.
  • In 2012 he returned to his country of birth to open the Earl Cameron Theatre in Hamilton, Bermuda. [Doctor Who News 4 July 2020]
  • He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours for services to drama in a career spanning seven decades. [The Guardian 4 July 2020; Wikipedia]
  • His obituary in the New York Times in print on July 11, 2020, Section A, Page 21.
  • Kenilworth; United Kingdom; Pembrooke Parish; Bermuda Earl Cameron; In Memoriam
    2020 2 Jul The design for the national Bahá'í House of Worship to be built in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was unveiled through an online announcement by the National Spiritual Assembly.

    The design, created by Wolff Architects in Cape Town, South Africa, was inspired by traditional artworks, structures and natural features of the DRC, as well as by the Bahá'í sacred teachings, particularly by the spiritual concept that God’s bounty is unceasingly flowing over all people. The patterns that will adorn the outside of the dome of the central edifice will express this idea in a style reminiscent of the artwork of various Congolese peoples.

    Commenting on the design, the architects stated: “We were inspired by an image of 19th century Congolese architecture which showed the most beautiful structures that appear to have finely woven bamboo facades with a parabolic roof made of palm leaves. These houses were located amongst giant baobab trees. ... The undulating roof of the temple makes reference to this history.” [BWNS1438] [key]

    Kinshasa; Congo, Democratic Republic of (DRC) BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, National; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Congo DR; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Design; Architecture; Architects; - Basic timeline, Expanded; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kinshasa
    2020 29 Jun The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Papua New Guinea issued a statement through its External Affairs department entitled Forging a Path to Gender Equality in response to a series of tragic events and a situation that intensified during the pandemic. [BWNS1439]
  • Statement on the External Affairs website.
  • Port Morseby; Papua New Guinea Equality; Women; Statements; Public discourse
    2020 19 Jun The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States issued a statement entitled Forging a Path to Racial Justice in response to the death of George Floyd and the subsequent demonstrations for racial unity that followed.
  • See as well their website Race Unity Action.
  • Wilmette; United States Racial amity; Race (general); Race unity; Racism; Statements; Public discourse
    2020 12 Jun The Bahá'í World News Service provided a progress report on the construction of the first local Mashriqul-Adhkar in Africa located in Matunda, Kenya. The foundations for the central edifice have been laid and the nine walls have been raised. In addition, the supports for the roof had been put into place.
  • The Temple had already become a point of adoration. Prior to the global health crisis, people were gathering on the grounds to pray and take part in community education programs, consulting about how they can develop their capacity to offer service to their society. [BWNS1434] [key]
  • Matunda; Kenya BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kenya
    2020 12 Jun In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the temple site was being prepared for the construction phase while they waited in anticipation of the unveiling of the design. [BWNS1434] [key] Kinshasa; Congo, Democratic Republic of (DRC) BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, National; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kinshasa
    2020 8 Jun In a report by the Bahá'í International Community about the intensification of persecution in Iran, they reveal that the recent pressures come as Iran’s state-affiliated media have also stepped up the public defamation of the Bahá'ís through an increasingly coordinated spread of disinformation. Television channels, newspapers, radio stations and social media have been saturated with articles and videos denigrating Bahá'í beliefs, all while Bahá'ís were denied the right of reply. More than 3,000 articles of anti-Bahá'í propaganda were recorded by the Bahá'í International Community to this date in 2020, the figures doubling from January to April. [BIC News 8 Jun 2020] [key] Iran Persecution, Iran
    2020 2 Jun The passing of Hossain Banadaki Danesh in Victoria, BC
  • His major publications were:
    • The Violence Free-Society: A Gift for Our Children. Bahá’í Studies. Vol. 6. 1979.
    • Unity: The Creative Foundation of Peace. Bahá’í Studies Publications, Ottawa 1986.
    • The Psychology of Spirituality. Paradigm Publishing, Manotick, Ontario 1994.
    • The Violence Free Family. Building Block of a Peaceful Civilization. Bahá’í Studies Publications, Ottawa, Canada 1995.
    • Conflict-Free Conflict Resolution (CFCR): Process and Methodology. with Roshan Danesh. Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, Fall. (March 21, 2004).
    • Unity of Faith and Reason in Action 2010.
    • The Unity-Based Family. An Empirical Study of Healthy Marriage, Family, and Parenting. H.B. Danesh, MD, FRCP(C), with Azin Nasseri, PhD. Cambridge Scholars Publishing; 1 edition (1 April 2017).
  • For a more complete list see his website.
  • Documents by Hossain Danesh on Bahai-library.com.
  • YouTube.
  • See his website. iiiii
  • Victoria BC; Canada Hossain Danesh
    2020 The Bahá'í community in Iran experienced increased pressures since the COVID-19 epidemic began in Iran in February. There was an upsurge in threats and persecution particularly in Shiraz, with an unprecedented number of new prison sentences, high numbers of people being returned to prison who had been given temporary leave due to the coronavirus outbreak. There was a fresh hate speech campaign against Bahá'ís in the national media. Since the Persian new year on March 20, the Bahá'í International Community reported, at least 3,000 pieces of anti-Bahá'í propaganda had been published in Iranian state media. The community was denied the right to respond publicly to these reports and accusations.
  • In Shiraz, some 40 Bahá'ís whose cases had been suspended for months, were summoned to court, part of a growing and unprecedented trend of the city’s Bahá'ís in recent years. One judicial official in Shiraz announced his intention to eradicate Bahá'ís from that city. [Iran Wire; BWNS1433; Archives of Persecution] [key]
  • Shiraz; Iran Persecution, Iran
    2020 25 May George Floyd, an African-American man, was killed during an arrest by four police officers. Subsequently a memorial was set up for him on the site where he died. [Wikipedia]
  • The memorial was about one block from the Minneapolis Bahá'í Center. See The American Bahá’í - August/September/October 2020 • V51N04 for the story of how the Bahá'í community reacted to the crisis in their neighbourhood.
  • Minneapolis,Minnesota, George Floyd
    2020 May The publication of A World in Travail: Understanding and Responding to the Events of Our Time compiled by Kamran Sedig. Compilations; Crisis
    2020 29 Apr The design for the local Bahá'í House of Worship to be built in Bihar Sharif was unveiled. (Due to the coronavirus situation, the announcement was made online in lieu of a ceremony that would have marked the historic event.) News of this project was announced in 2012 along with other projects in Battambang, Cambodia; Matunda Soy, Kenya; Norte del Cauca, Colombia; and Tanna, Vanuatu.
  • The architectural firm Space Matters of New Delhi was selected and the project was the creation of the founders of the firm, Moulshri Joshi, Amritha Ballal, and Suditya Sinha.
  • The design.
  • See article in Architecture Live.
  • Drawing on patterns found in the Madhubani folk art of Bihar and the region’s long architectural heritage, the firm created a design with a repeating pattern of arches. The domed edifice will step up from nine arches at the base, multiplying until each segment appears to merge into a single geometry. Openings at the center of the dome and in each ring of arches will reduce the weight of the ceiling while allowing gentle light to filter in. [BWNS1421]
  • Slideshow.
  • Bihar Sharif; New Delhi; India Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; - Basic timeline, Expanded
    2020 28 Apr The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan federal government advisory entity. The U.S. Congress created the USCIRF to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to freedom of religion. In their annual report, USCIRF 2020 Annual Report (PDF) they documented a particular uptick in the persecution of Bahá'ís and of any local government officials who supported them in 2019. Iran’s government blamed Baha’is for widespread popular protests, accusing the community of collaboration with Israel and continued to promote hatred against Bahá'ís and other religious minorities on traditional and social media channels.

      More specifically the USCIRF released Iran Policy Brief: Increased Persecution of Iran’s Bahá'í Community in 2019 (PDF). Referring to the continuing violations of religious freedom by the clergy-dominated Islamic Republic government, the report urged the U.S. government to impose sanctions on government institutions and officials responsible for violating religious freedoms in Iran, to freeze their assets and to ban them from entering the United States.

    United States; Iran Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Human rights; Human rights
    2020 22 Apr The Brussels Office of the Bahá'í International Community launched a quarterly newsletter to share more widely insights emerging from its efforts to contribute to contemporary discourses in Europe. [BWNS1424; BIC Newsletter]
  • Click here to subscribe.
  • Brussels; Belgium Baha'i International Community; Newsletter
    2020 20 Apr A new section, featuring images, videos, and music from commemorations of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, was added to the two bicentenary websites. These websites stand as a permanent testament to how Bahá'ís and many of their compatriots throughout the world—from major urban centres to remote rural locations—commemorated the bicentennial anniversaries of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb in 2017 and 2019, respectively. The final additions made to the bicentenary websites included country pages illustrating the diversity of celebrations that these historic occasions inspired in over 150 countries and territories. [BWNS1717] [key] BWC Bahaullah, Birth of; Centenaries; Twin Holy days; Holy days; Websites; Internet; Publications; Translation
    2020 11 Apr The Iranian government released a number of prisoners of conscience in the country as a result of health risks associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This included several Baha’is imprisoned purely for their religious beliefs. However, other Bahá'ís remained in prison, raising increasing concern for their health. [BIC News Release] [key] Iran Persecution, Iran; Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2020 8 Apr In a letter to a National Spiritual Assembly The Universal House of Justice clarified burial during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. [8 April 2020] [key] Covid-19 (Corona virus)
    2020 25 Mar The Houthi authorities announced the intended release of all Bahá'í prisoners in Yemen as well as a pardon for Hamed bin Haydara whose death sentence was upheld by an appeals court in Sana’a just two days prior. The six Bahá'ís that were to be released from custody were the aforementioned Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, as well as Mr. Waleed Ayyash, Mr. Akram Ayyash, Mr. Kayvan Ghaderi, Mr. Badiullah Sanai, and Mr. Wael al-Arieghie.
  • The Bahá'í International Community further advocated for the Houthi authorities to drop charges that were issued in 2018 against over 20 other Bahá'ís, to return seized assets and properties of members of the Bahá'í community, and to allow the functioning of Bahá'í institutions in Yemen. [Asharq Al-Awsat 27 March 2020]
  • The announcement was made In a general television address by Mr. Mahdi al-Mashat, President of the Houthi Supreme Political Council. [BIC 25 March 2020]
  • Notwithstanding the above, the prisoners were not released.
  • Sana'a; Yemen Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Court cases; Hamed bin Haydara; Waleed Ayyash; Akram Ayyash; Kayvan Ghaderi; Badiullah Sanai; Wael al-Arieghie; Baha'i International Community
    2020 23 Mar The passing of prominent jazz musician Mike Longo. He had a distinguished jazz career as a pianist, composer, and educator, notably as longtime musical director for fellow Bahá'í Dizzy Gillespie. He died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The cause of death was COVID-19. [Live Stream WBGO 23 March 2020] [key] New York, United States Mike Longo; In Memoriam; Births and deaths; Jazz music; Famous Bahais
    2020 22 Mar Houthi-controlled Court of Appeal upheld the preliminary ruling that ordered the execution of Hamed bin Haydara. He was not allowed to attend the trial nor was he allowed to have anyone defend him. The court ruling also ordered that his properties, as well as those of the Bahá'í institutions in the country, be confiscated. [Republican Yeman dated 22 March 2020]
  • In January 2018, Mr. Haydara was sentenced to public execution. Eighteen court hearings have been held since then, and the last one was scheduled to have taken place on March 31, before being brought forward unexpectedly to the 22nd of March. This hearing took place after more than six years of unjustified detention, false and unfounded allegations, and harsh and degrading treatment of Mr. Haydara.
  • In recent years, the first instance court in Sana'a has not only tried Mr. Haydara but has targeted more than twenty members of the Bahá'í community, including members of the Bahá’í administrative structure. Mr. Haydara was one of six Bahá'ís detained in Yemen for their beliefs at the time of this hearing.
  • The case of Mr. Haydara has received widespread media attention since his detention. See Media Coverage and Statements on the Persecution of the Bahá'ís in Sana'a, Yemen.
  • Bahá’ís have been systematically persecuted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian state even formulated its own state doctrine in 1991 with the aim of eliminating Bahá'í as a viable community in Iran and abroad. The persecution was exported to Yemen via the influence on the Houthis. [Website of the Bahá’í community in Germany]
  • For further information see BWNS 1303; BWNS 1232; BIC 21 March 2020; BIC 23 March 2020; BWNS 1036.
  • Amnesty International.
  • Sanaa; Yemen Hamed bin Haydara; Persecution, Court cases; Persecution, Yemen
    2020 9 -20 Mar The Bahá'í International Community submitted a statement entitled Developing New Dynamics of Power to Transform the Structures of Society to the Commission on the Status of Women in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women and to the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly.

    The statement can be found on the UN website.

    New York Baha'i International Community; Statements; Equality of men and women
    2020 2 Mar The Bahá'í International Community-Brussels hosted a conference entitled A Vision for A Society of the Future? A Brainstorming Session on AI. [YouTube; BIC website]
  • See Uplifting Words for a brief report on the brainstorming session.
  • Brussels; Belgium Baha'i International Community
    2020 25 Feb A hearing on the case of 24 Yemeni Bahá'ís took place in Sana’a. The presiding judge, Mujahed al-Amdi, mocked the defence lawyer when he protested at being denied access to his clients. The judge later relented yet made access to the Bahá'ís contingent on officers being present during any meeting, in violation of their rights. Judge al-Amdi also tried during the hearing to replace the defence lawyer with a lawyer of the Judge’s own choosing.

    Five Baha’is, who had been detained since 2017 and were among the 24 being tried, were present during the court hearing. The Bahá'ís later, for the first time since their original detention, were allowed to meet with their lawyer outside the courtroom. Six officers supervised the meeting as per Judge al-Amdi’s decree. The lawyer continued to be denied access to the documents presented to the court by the prosecution. [BIC 28 February 2020; BIC 23 February 2020] [key]

    Sanaa; Yemen Persecution, Yemen
    2020 27 Jan The Baha’i International Community expressed its concern with the surge in persecution by the Iranian authorities against the Bahá'í community. It had the appearance of an institutional decision that impacted Bahá'ís across the country.
  • By restricting applicants of the new Iranian national identification card to select only one of the four recognized religions—i.e. Islam, Christianity, Judaism or Zoroastrianism—those belonging to other faiths, including Bahá'ís, were forced to either lie about their beliefs or remain deprived of the most basic civil services, such as applying for a loan, cashing a check, or buying property.
  • A court has ruled that all of the properties belonging to the Bahá'ís in the village of Ivel be confiscated on the basis that Bahá'ís have “a perverse ideology” and therefore have no “legitimacy in their ownership” of any property. This outrageous decision is despite the fact that Baha’is have been resident in the area and owned properties there for generations, reaching as far back as the mid 1800s.
  • In the previous three months alone, dozens of Bahá'ís were arrested and dozens more received religiously-motivated sentences, for a combined prison term of nearly one hundred years. Individual Bahá'ís were sentenced to upwards of ten years in prison; in yet another case the gold used by a Bahá'í in his jewelry business was called for to be confiscated.
  • In the previous three months, Bahá'ís also experienced multiple home raids, attacks on properties, confiscation of possessions, dismissals from employment, and continued denial of access to higher education. In one case, a Bahá'í home was entirely destroyed. In another instance, a non-Bahá'í employer was forced to provide a list of her Bahá'í employees and then to dismiss them from employment.
  • A relentless campaign of misinformation about the Bahá'í Faith targeting the Iranian public has continued in full force in the news and social media. Thousands of such anti-Bahá'í propaganda have circulated in 2019 alone. [BIC 27 January 2020]
  • See an update on the situation of the Bahá'ís in Iran from the Bahá'í International Community as of August 2020.
  • Iran; Ivel Persecution, Iran; Baha'i International Community
    2020 23 Jan The Cambridge University Press published Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century co-authored by Augusto Lopez-Claros (former Director, Global Indicators Group at the World Bank Group), Arthur L. Dahl (former Deputy Assistant Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)), Maja Groff (International lawyer, Visiting Professor, Faculty of Global Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University College). [BWNS1279; Photo]
  • See a graphic presentatation of the proposals made.
  • The PDF may be obtained from the Cambridge University Press site.
  • See the International Environmental Forum for a brief description of the book.
  • See as well the synopsis at Global Challenges Foundation.
  • See the Wilmette Institute for a webinar hosted by the authors.
  • Cambridge Arthur Dahl; Augusto Lopez-Claros; Maja Groff

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