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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.
 Enter the first part of a date or an entire date, with or without hyphens, in the form Year-Month-Day. Examples:
century:18 - - decade:184 - year:1848 month:1848-03 day:1848-03-03

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2022 Jun A campaign by Iranian authorities to uproot the Baha’i community in Shiraz took a dark step forward, earlier in June, when Branch 1 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced 26 Baha’is to a combined total of 85 years in prison. Each individual was sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to five years.

Travel bans and orders to report daily to a provincial intelligence office were also issued. A number of the Baha’is also received in addition a combined total of 24 years of internal exile—with the individual banishments set for two years.

Many of the 26 sentenced to prison are couples with young children. [BIC News 23 June 2022] [key]

Iran Persecution, Iran
2022 6 Jun The passing of Jim (James Eugene) Seals, (b. 17 October 1941 or 1942 in Sidney, Texas) singer, musician and songwriter was announced on social media by a relative, Bradley Seals. He passed away in Nashville, TN. [The Guardian 10 June 2022]
  • See his obituary on the site of the Bahá'ís of the United States.
  • See YouTube.
  • See Wikipedia for their career trajectory and disography.
  • This chart, courtesy of Steven Kolins, shows the internet traffic generated by the announcement of his passing.
  • Sidney,Texas; Nashville, TN In Memoriam; Jim Seals; Seals and Crofts; Famous Bahais
    2022 22 May A story carried by The Sunday Telegraph in London and written by the law firm representing Remi Rouhani in Qatar's highest court against an unjust conviction, alleged that the Qatari authorities discriminated against him because of his Faith. He was a Bahá'í citizen of Qatar and the former director of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is believed that Mr Rouhani's case may serve as a bellwether for Qatar's intention regarding the Bahá'í Faith and other religious minorities. [The Sunday Telegraph 22May2022] [key] Qatar Persecution, Qatar
    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); * Institute process; Conferences
    2022 20 Apr The International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance issued a statement noting “with grave concern the increased pattern of repression and discrimination against members of the Bahá'í community” in some countries around the world. The statement is the first time the Alliance, also known as IRFBA, has made a direct intervention on challenges facing Bahá'í communities as a result of religious prejudice. Specific countries where Bahá'ís are persecuted or discriminated against were not named in the statement but the description of the challenges made it clear that the statement was written in support of the Bahá'í communities in Iran, Qatar and Yemen. [Statement on Bahá'ís] [key] Iran; Yemen; Qatar The International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance; IRFBA; Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Qatar
    2022 8 Apr A fire broke out and clouds of black smoke billowed from the construction site of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá when wind-blown sparks from welding on the dome ignited scaffolding and plastic forms being used to mold poured concrete. Firefighters evacuate the nearby suburbs of Giv'at Hatmarim and Afraid. The completed concrete walls and structures were undamaged but the blaze destroyed “several months of work” on the 2,900-square-meter (0.7-acre) circular platform and piazza.
  • YouTube.
  • Message from the Universal House of Justice dated 14 April 2022. iiiii
  • BWC Abdu'l-Baha, Shrine of
    2022 25 Mar In a statement was delivered by the Bahá'í International Community’s representative, Simin Fahandej, by video to the 49th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva it was announced that more than 1,000 Bahá'ís are in a “limbo” between their initial arrests, their legal hearings and their final summons to prison. A “rising trend” in the confiscation of Bahá'í-owned properties was also of “particular concern”, Fahandej told the Human Rights Council. And while the appropriation of assets was not new, she added, it did seem that the Iranian authorities were “increasingly using the legal system” for such seizures. The concern is that confiscations of Bahá'í properties enrich the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, also known as Setad, which is controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. [Iran Press Watch 25 March 2022] [key] Geneva,Switzerland Baha'i International Community; Persecution, Iran
    2022 21 Mar The World Centre released a progress report on the construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They reported that the meticulous work of assembling the formwork for the trellis spanning the Shrine’s central plaza was nearing completion and showed an animated sequence of design rendering showing the process of building the trellis, including the placement of polystyrene (EPS) formwork, the placement of rebar, the pouring of concrete, and finally, the removal of formwork. They also showed photos of the work being done in the quarry in Carrara, Italy for the marble company, Margraf, was sourcing the marble for the project. The groundwork for a visitor's centre had begun. [BWNS1588] [key] BWC Abdul-Baha, Shrine of; BWNS
    2022 11 Mar The release of the Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Rights of persons belonging to religious or belief minorities in situations of conflict or insecurity at the 49th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The annex of the report said that concerns regarding the Bahá'ís "have persisted and even escalated across several country contexts". Dr Ahmed Shaheed's report illustrated the situations faced by Bahá'ís in Iran and in Yemen where they lack legal recognition and the discrimination as well as in Qatar they have experienced administrative deportations and in Tunisia where the government has refused to recognize the Faith. [Iranwire71448] [key] Geneva Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Yemen; Persecution, Qatar; Persecution, Tunisia
    2022 14 Feb The statement The Oneness of Humanity—Implications for the Africa-European Union Partnership was jointly prepared by the Addis Ababa and Brussels Offices of the BIC on the occasion of the 6th African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) Summit held in Brussels.

    Solomon Belay of the Addis Ababa Office stated: “The summit offered an opportunity to present EU leaders with key insights emerging from the many conversations of the BIC with government officials, policy makers, faith leaders, and civil society organizations about a range of themes being explored by the BIC in recent years, including global governance, migration, climate change, agriculture, and food security. We will be offering the same perspectives to AU leaders.”

    Rachel Bayani of the Brussels Office explained that reshaping international structures and relationships according to the principle of humanity’s oneness is a challenging task that will require effort over generations. “The statement offers a few practical suggestions for moving toward this goal. First is for careful consideration to be given to the impact of European policies on all segments of society in Africa, Europe, and across the world". [BWNS1594]

  • The statement.
  • Brussels,Belgium Baha'i International Community; Solomon Belay; Rachel Bayani, Bahai International Community, statement
    2022 Jan Representatives of all religious sects in Tunisia signed the National Charter for Peaceful Coexistence, the first of its kind in Tunisia, which calls for guaranteeing the right of religious minorities to differ and to show their beliefs in public. Representative to this conference came from the Jewish Synagogue in La Goulette, the Evangelical Church in Tunisia, the Union of Sufi Ways; the Ahl al-Bayt Shiite Centre in Tunis and Mohamed Ben Moussa, the Bahá'í representative in Tunisia.

    Notwithstanding the fact that Tunisian citizens have the right, according to the constitution, international charters and treaties, to establish their religious rites some religious communities, notably the Jews, Christians, Shites, and Bahá'ís still experience difficulty in practicing their faith. The Bahá'í representative, Mohamed ben Moussa acknowledged that adherents of the Bahá'í faith in Tunisia are subjected to violations, as fatwas of infidelity were issued against them by the grand mufti of Tunisia in December 2020. Additionally, the presidency of the Tunisian government accused them of apostasy.

    This charter aroused a great uproar among Tunisian society, which responded with an extensive campaign of insults and threats of violence, reaching the point of calling for murder. Although the official authorities were silent, the Ministry of Religious Affairs sent a representative to attend the signing. The organizers said that the strong reaction was expected but did not anticipate the many messages of threats and insults from the general public, radical Muslim sheikhs, intellectuals and others. All negative comments were unanimous; that Tunisia is a Muslim country and will remain so. This strong reaction was evidence of the extent of extremist ideology and hatred in the community and their lack of acceptance of those who differ from them. [The Christian Post 6Feb2022] [key]

    Mohamed Ben Moussa; Persecution, Tunisia
    2022 26 Jan The BWC released a progress report on the construction of the national Bahá'í House of Worship in Kinshasa, DRC. [BWNS1579] [key] Kinshasa,DRC Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, Kinshasa; Mashriqu’l-Adhkar; House of Worship; Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, national; BWNS
    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)
    2022 5 Jan The film, Glimpses of a Hundred Years of Endeavour, commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, was released on this day.

    The film provided insight into a hundred years of endeavor and learning since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1921, carried out by a burgeoning Bahá’í community, and outlined the journey that has led to the community’s current efforts to contribute to the emergence of a world organized around the principle of the oneness of humanity.

    The 66-minute film was made available in Arabic, English, French, Persian, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. The original version with English subtitles was placed on YouTube. [BWNS1574] [key]

    BWC Glimpses of a Hundred Years of Endeavour (film); Film; Documentaries; Documentaries, BWC
    2022 1 Jan The Universal House of Justice announced that the courses of the Ruhi Institute would continue to be a prominent feature of the educational endeavours of all training institutes during this new series of global Plans. The Ruhi Institute will, during the Nine Year Plan, complete the preparation of all the materials it has outlined for use in children’s classes, junior youth groups, and study circles, and the revision of published editions as necessary in light of experience. However, beyond what it has already delineated, it is not expected to develop new materials to be used worldwide. [Message 1 January 1922] [key] BWC Nine Year Plan (2022-2031); * Institute process; Childrens classes; Youth empowerment program; Ruhi Institute
    2021 30 Dec - 4 Jan The conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors was held at the Bahá'í World Centre. The discussions of the Counsellors over the six days explored how the worldwide Bahá’í community could intensify its efforts to contribute to social progress predicated on the spiritual principle of oneness. In their analysis, the Counsellors concluded that achieving this aim is dependent on significantly extending the reach of Bahá’í educational programs that build capacity for service, at the heart of which is faith in the ability of a population to become the protagonists of its own development. [BWNS1573; BWNS1575; BWNS1571] [key] BWC Continental Boards of Counsellors; Conference
    2021 30 Dec As per the 30 December 2021 message o the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 22 Local Spiritual Assemblies spread over eight countries were elected using a two-stage electoral process. This follows the same instructions that 'Abdu'l-Bahá gave to the Spiritual Assembly of Ṭihrán. It involved the division of a locality into units from each of which one or more delegates were elected, after which the delegates elected the members of the Local Assembly. [Paragraph 32] Local Spiritual Assembly, formation; Local Spiritual Assembly, election; Local Spiritual Assembly; Statistics
    2021 30 Dec - 4 Jan In a message to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors the Universal House of Justice announced a series of global Plans to carry the Faith into the third century of the Bahá'í Era and conclude at Ridván 2026. [30 December 2021] [key] BWC Nine Year Plan (2022-2031)
    2021 19 Dec Journalists from over 55 media outlets across Italy attended the press conference in Milan and had the opportunity to learn about and the sacred nature of the project to prepare the marble for the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the complexities of its construction. The fabrication of the marble has required newly developed machinery that can cut the stone directly from 3D models with extreme precision—a requirement of the project given the curved surfaces of the domed trellis.

    Attendees at the press conference included Hossein Amanat, who was selected by the Universal House of Justice as the architect for the project, Sohrab Youssefian, liaison between the project and Margraf, and two members of Italy’s Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly. The Italian marble company that will cut and chiseled the marble was represented by Silvio Xompero, president of Margraf, and by Alessandro Peotta, head of the Margraf Technical Office. This firm has a long record of service to the Faith [BWNS1569] [key]

    Milan,Italy Abdul-Baha, Shrine of; Margraf; Silvio Xompero; Alessandro Peotta; Hossein Amanat; Sohrab Youssefian
    2021 16 Dec The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has called on the Iranian government to end its discrimination of minorities in Iran, including of the Bahá'í community. The vote confirms a Third Committee resolution passed in November. The resolution was endorsed by the General Assembly’s 76th session and introduced by Canada and 47 co-sponsors from all regions, passed by 78 votes in favour, with 31 against and 69 abstentions. [BIC News; BWNS1568; Iran Press Watch/a>]
  • The Resolution.
  • One of the latest incidents occurred in Kata where thirteen irrigated farmland plots belonging to Bahá'ís in the village in Iran’s southwest was targeted by authorities seeking to further expropriate the assets of Baha’is in the country. The organization “Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order” – a parastatal agency controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which holds and sells assets seized from proscribed groups and individuals and has done so since the 1979 Islamic Revolution – advertised the 13 land parcels on an auction website in mid-October. Each property has been listed for sale at a price estimated to be only 15% of its fair market value. [BIC News]
  • Farm lands in Semnan, Roshankouh, and Ivel have also been confiscated recently. [BWNS1568] [key]
  • New York; United States; Kata; Semnan; Roshankouh; Ivel; Iran Persecution, Iran; United Nations; Baha'i International Community; BWNS
    2021 6 Dec Thirteen irrigated farmland plots belonging to Bahá'ís in the village of Kata in Iran’s southwest have been targeted by local authorities seeking to expropriate Bahá'í-owned assets in Iran.

    The organization "Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order" – an agency controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which held and sold assets seized from proscribed groups and individuals and has done so since the 1979 Islamic Revolution – advertised the 13 properties on an auction website in mid-October. Each property had been listed for sale at a price just 15 percent of market value. The auctions listings have been published despite Bahá'ís having held the deeds to these properties for generations. [Iran Wire 6DEC21] [key]

    Kata; Iran Persecution; Iran
    2021 5 - 7 Dec A three-day poster design workshop was held in Shiraz for the purpose of inciting hatred against Bahá'ís. This coincided with the beginning of another wave of security and judicial pressure on Bahá'í citizens in different cities of Iran. The Visual Arts Festival (Moqaddas Nama) hosted the poster and caricature design workshop aimed at inciting hatred against the followers of the Bahá'í Faith. This workshop, organized by the Secretariat of Moghadas Nama and the Secretariat of the Revolution Poster and the Association of Designers of the Islamic Revolution (Beit,) specifically attacks the religious beliefs of the members of the Bahá'í community through poster design and graphic works. This program is part of the Iranian government’s ongoing campaign against the Bahá'í Community, which has routinely and systematically violated the citizenship and human rights of the Baha’s over the past four decades. Participants in the Anti-Baha’i poster workshop are offered millions in prizes. [Iran Press Watch] [key] Shiraz; Iran Persecution, Iran
    2021 27 Nov An example of a program to mark the Centenary of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá is that done by the Bahá'í community of Northern Virginia. [YouTube] [key] Commemoration; Centenary of the Passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha
    2021 25 Nov A short documentary about the construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, commissioned by the Universal House of Justice for the occasion of the centenary, was released for viewing at the centenary gathering at the Bahá’í World Centre. The film explores aspects of the design and construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and features interviews with people directly involved in the project. [BWNS1557]
  • Construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. iiiii
  • BWC Abdu'l-Baha, Shrine of
    2021 20 - 27 Nov In its Ridván 2018 and a year previous, in its message of 25 November 2020, the Universal House of Justice announced that there would be a gathering in the Holy Land by representatives of National Spiritual Assemblies and Regional Bahá’í Councils throughout the world to commemorate the Centenary of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. What transpired was a week of activities.

    Several events that were intended for the public were held in Haifa and ‘Akká to mark the centenary of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

      -In Haifa, the mayor of the city, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, and other municipal officials, members of diverse faith communities, and other residents of the city honoured the centenary at a historic building near ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s residence on Haparsim Street in a spirit of fellowship and unity reminiscent of the gatherings He Himself would hold with people of all backgrounds.

      -In ‘Akká, a public reception at the House of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá lived and received countless guests from 1896 to 1910, allowed people from around the country to learn about His life and His service to the inhabitants of ‘Akká through an exhibition and a guided visit of the site.

      -In Bahjí, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rented a residence for Bahá’u’lláh and His family in 1879, a special program brought together the mayor of ‘Akká, Shimon Lankri, and other government officials, various community and religious leaders—Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze—academics, and civil society representatives to hear stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, where many of those gathered also shared their perspectives on His impact on the people of the region. [BWNS1552; BWNS1555]

    Some 600 presentatives of Bahá’í communities from nations and regions around the world began to arrive in Haifa for the historic gathering at the Bahá’í World Centre. In the days following they visited the Holy Places in the Akka/Haifa area. [BWNS1553; BWNS1555]

    On the 25th of November the friends gathered in the concourse of the Universal House of Justice building. A Message from the Universal House of Justice was addressed to the gathering. The program included remarks by a member of the International Teaching Centre, Muna Tehrani with the keynote address given by ITC member Gloria Javid entitles 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant. [BWNS1556]

    On the 26th of November Mrs Antonella Demonte, member of the International Teaching Centre, delivered a Keynote Address entitled The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Unfoldment of the Administrative Order.

    The Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing was marked in the early hours of the 27th of November with the attendees assembled in the courtyard of the Haifa Pilgrim House. A tribute written by the Universal House of Justice for the occasion was read by one of its members. [BWNS1558]

    On the 28th of November representatives of Bahá’í communities throughout the world came together in the concourse of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice for a spiritually charged closing of the centenary gathering. The closing session included addresses delivered by members of the International Teaching Centre, Antonella Demonte, Dr Holly Woodard, and Rachel Ndegwa. Prayers were chanted and spoken in different languages, there was a musical interlude, and Bahá’í writings were sung by a choir. The film Exemplar was shown. [BWNS1559]

  • See the departing message of the Universal House of Justice.
  • See some of the commemorative gatherings that were held around the world.
  • See the documentary Commemorating the Centenary of the Ascension of ʻAbdu'l Bahá.
  • BWC Abdul-Baha, Ascension of; Centenaries
    2021 18 Nov The release of the film Exemplar commissioned by the Universal House of Justice to mark the centenary commemoration of the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The film follows the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the profound effect He had on people both past and present. A sense of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s unique function as a shelter, a shield, and a stronghold for all humanity is captured in vignettes of some of the people whose lives were transformed through their association with Him. It explores 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. [BWNS1551]
  • The film was made by Hamilton, ON Bahá'í, Mary Darling. [The Hamilton Spectator 5 April 2022] iiiii [key]
  • BWC; Hamilton, ON Exemplar (film); Abdul-Baha, Basic timeline; Abdul-Baha, Life of; Abdul-Baha, Exemplar
    2021 17 Nov The premier of the film The Legacy of Saskatoon's Secret Forest [CBNS17 November 2021]
      The inspirational story of Richard St. Barbe Baker, aka the “Man of the Trees,” The heritage documentary The Legacy of Saskatoon’s Secret Forest tells the story of his remarkable life and achievements. There is a 15 minute version heritage documentary and a one hour long presentation with greetings from around the world. The 15 minute prequel film “Richard St. Barbe Baker Park” tells how the heritage documentary came to be. From roots in Saskatoon he went on to inspire tree planting and forest protection around the world. The International Tree Foundation, which he founded in 1922, is still active in 14 countries. Countless people motivated by him are environmental champions today. A companion curriculum describes his holistic world view, and his daring life of action on behalf of the earth.
    Saskatoon; Canada The Legacy of Saskatoon's Secret Forest; Richard St. Barbe Baker
    2021 14 Nov Update on the BIHE: The Institute has adapted using today’s technology. As of this date 955 staff members operated the hybrid online and in-person school. The school offered more than 1,050 classes in its associate, undergraduate or graduate programs. Despite ongoing persecution of the BIHE recorded an average of 1,000 applicants and accepted 450 new first-year students annually.

    Although a number of Iranian Bahá'ís were still held back by Iran’s refusal to recognize the institution, BIHE graduates would go on to study at a choice of 98 different international universities and colleges. [Borgen Magazine 14 November 2021] [key]

    Iran Education; Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE)
    2021 13 Nov The some 3,000 people gathered for the dedication of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in the Pacific on the island of Tanna. In attendance at the ceremony were Prime Minister Bob Loughman and other government officials, representatives from the Malvatumauri National Councils of Chiefs and the Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, members of diverse faith communities, and representatives of local and national Bahá’í institutions. [BWNS1550]

    The Universal House of Justice was represented by Henry Tamashiro who delivered this Message.

    Specifics

      Location:near Lenakel on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu
      Unveiling of the design: 18 June 2017
      Foundation Stone: 17 November 2019
      Construction Period: 17 November 2019 to 13 November 2021
      Site Dedication:13 November 2021
      Architect: Ashkan Mostaghim
      Architectural firm:
      Capacity: 300
      Dimensions:
      Cost:
      Dependencies: Amphitheater for large community gatherings
      References: BWNS1550; BWNS1549; BWNS1530; BWNS1515; BWNS1175; BWNS1373; BWNS1176
    Lenakel; Vanuatu Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; - Basic timeline, Expanded; Ashkan Mostaghim; Henry Tamashiro
    2021 8 Nov The Baha'i World Centre gave details of the conservation work that was continuing on the Mazra'ih Mansion. Most significantly, the room that Bahá’u’lláh’s occupied had been made ready to receive pilgrims.

    This Holy Place has been described by the Universal House of Justice in a letter to all Bahá’í National Spiritual Assemblies as “that serene and sacred spot, the first residence of Bahá’u’lláh after nine years’ confinement within the walls of the prison-city of ‘Akká.”

  • The work, which had begun more than a year earlier had been carried out on the courtyard and its wall as well as portion of the Roman aqueduct that runs through the site. Restoration work was also done on the stables and other structural element on the site. The Universal House of Justice further states: “In the coming years, conservation work will be carried out on the other rooms of the Mansion, and the surrounding area will be landscaped to provide a large, open space for visitors to walk around and enjoy, intending to capture the tranquil spirit of this blessed spot.” [BWNS1547] [key]
  • Mazra'ih House of Bahaullah (Mazraih); Mazra'ih
    2021 4 Nov The US premiere of the short film entitled The Prisoner in the Cinema Paradisl in Hollywood. The film was written and directed by Jayce Bartok. In the film two bickering prison guards, one with a dangerous secret, connect while guarding a prophet that is causing a revolution throughout the Middle East of the 1800’s. [FLIFF 2021 Film Guide; Bahá'í Blog] [key] Hollywood; California The Prisoner; Jayce Bartok
    2021 Nov A six-part documentary series about the life of 'Abdu’l-Bahá was produced by Fred Badiyan and Ramin Khadem in honour of the centenary of the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Each of the six parts covers His life in chronological order, from His childhood and imprisonment, to His travels and ascension. The film was made by Badiyan Productions. https://www.badiyan.com/

    * Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery – Part 1: Beginnings

    * Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery – Part 2: Master of the Prison City

    * Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery – Part 3: Tumultuous Years

    * Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery – Part 4: Travels in the West

    * Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery – Part 5: The End of the Journey

    * Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery – Part 6: Touching Hearts: Stories of Transformation

    Abdu’l-Baha: The Mystery; Fred Badiyan; Ramin Khadem; Badiyan Productions; Documentaries; Films
    2021 29 Oct In preparation for the commemoration of His passing, the Bahá'í communities around the world released a number of publications honouring 'Abdu'l-Bahá, recounting stories of His life and the principles He espoused. These included new translations of His Will and Testament, illuminated prayer books, stories of His life, and storybooks for children. New translations of His Writings have been made for the first time in a number of languages. [BWNS1544] [key] Abdul-Baha, Writings and talks of
    2021 22 Oct The online publication The Bahá’í World released two new articles, 'Abdu’l-Bahá: Champion of Universal Peace, which explores how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá advanced the cause of peace not only through His engagement with leading thinkers of His time but also through a plan for the spiritualization of the planet and another new article, titled ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Bahá’í Students, looks at ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s contributions to the discourse on education in the Middle East and His guidance of Bahá’í students at the American University of Beirut. [BWNS1543] [key] BWC The Baha’i World
    2021 10 Sep The World Centre provided an update on the construction of the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It was announced that the plaza walls had been completed and the complex process of building the intricate trellis that will span the central plaza had begun. [BWNS1531]
  • YouTube
  • BWC Abdu'l-Baha, shrine of
    2021 31 Aug A four-day gathering, attended by some 2,000 participants was held in Baraka, DRC in honour of the forthcoming centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing. Attendees included officials, a traditional chief of the region, religious leaders, and people of diverse faiths. The conference explored the insights about the advancement of women gained through decades-long efforts of the Bahá’ís of the region aimed at social progress, and planned for an intensification of such activities of social action. [BWNS1529] [key] Baraka; Congo, Democratic Republic of (DRC) Conference; Women
    2021 25 Aug The Bahá'í International Community submitted formal letters of concern to United Nations Special Rapporteurs regarding the confiscation of properties belonging to six Bahá'ís in the province of Semnan. In the formal letters they called upon the UN and other international actors to intervene with Iran’s government to ensure that Baha’is are not dispossessed of their properties by the State.
  • A court notice on the Iranian judiciary website informing the property owners of the imminent seizures appeared earlier this month. The notice came after a series of raids were carried out on Bahá'í-owned properties across Iran by security forces in November 2020. A large number of property deeds belonging to individual Bahá'ís were taken during these raids—including deeds for the Semnan properties now listed for confiscation. Last year Bahá'í-owned lands in the village of Ivel, in Mazandaran Province, were also taken by the authorities.
  • The “charge” claimed by the court as the reason for the confiscations is that the properties belong to Bahá'í institutions. However, these institutions were banned in 1979 by the Islamic Republic, and formally dissolved in 1983. Moreover all their properties were confiscated after the Islamic Revolution; consequently, no properties currently belong to Bahá'í institutions in Iran.
  • Semnan has previously been used as a “laboratory” by the authorities to execute systematic campaigns of persecution against the Bahá'ís in Iran. Attacks on Bahá'ís in Semnan have been notable for their particular intensity, for the mobilization and coordination of official and unofficial elements including police, courts, local authorities and the clergy, and for persecution ranging from hate speech to economic strangulation, arrests and physical attacks. The BIC now observes this as a pattern consistent with a state-led campaign of economic persecution unfolding across Iran. [BIC New site] [key]
  • Semnan; Ivel; Iran Persecution, Iran
    2021 29 Jul A report on the progress of the construction of the National Mashriqul-Adhkar was provided.
  • The concrete structural elements that make up the lower portion of the edifice and will support the steel superstructure of the dome and surrounding canopies was being completed. Work on the upper gallery was progressing.
  • The two ring beams that support the dome had been completed.
  • More than 90% of the concrete for the building had been poured.
  • Work on the grounds and on the auxiliary structures was continuing. The walls and the roof of the visitor's centre had been completed.
  • The secretary of the country’s Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly, Lavoisier Mutombo Tshiongo, reported that, “At the same time, we are seeing an intensification of action inspired by what the temple represents. Everything is increasing, from devotional gatherings, educational efforts, and other initiatives taken by families and youth, such as cleaning rivers and water sources, to formal activities in the areas of food security and agriculture, education, health and empowerment of women.” He attributed the increasing pace of activity to a growing appreciation of the relationship between worship of God and service to humanity that is being cultivated through conversations about the national House of Worship. [BWNS1521] [key]
  • Kinshasa; Congo, Democratic Republic of (DRC) BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, National; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kinshasa
    2021 19 Jul 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 19 Jul 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 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 International 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.
  • YouTube.
  • 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 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]

    Tihran; Iran 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 who delivered this message on their behalf.

    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 to 23 May 2021
      Construction Period: 28 February 2019 to
      Site Dedication: 23 May 2021
      Architect: Neda Samimi (The first woman whose design for a Baha’i House of Worship was selected.)
      Architectural firm: under the auspices of Archipoint Consulting Architects (Mr Alfred Mango, Architect)
      Seating: 250
      Dimensions:
      Land: The area was about 20 acres inclusive of the Lwanda Learning Site which occupies about 3 acres.
      Cost: (land and building)15m Kshs plus 152m Kshs (approximately US$1.5m)
      Dependencies: Existing buildings will be repurposed as educational facilities and as offices for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Kenya.
      References: BWNS1251; BWNS1317; BWNS1473; BWNS1493; BWNS1511.
  • Matunda Soy; Kenya Local Mashriqu’l-Adhkar; Neda Samimi; Townshend Lihanda; BWNS; Mashriqul-Adhkar (House of Worship); Mashriqul-Adhkar, Local; Mashriqul-Adhkar, Kenya; Dedication Neda Samimi, the first woman whose design for a Baha’i House of Worship was selected.
    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]

  • YouTube.
  • 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); Abdul-Baha, Writings and talks of
    2021 29 Apr A sentence was issued against a Qatar citizen and a Bahá'í, Remy Rowhani, on charges linked to his religious beliefs after a secret hearing was held in his absence. No evidence had been presented at any time to substantiate the charges against Mr Rowhani. To then issue a prison sentence and fine in absentia was contrary to due process and was further evidence of an official policy of discrimination against the Bahá'ís. [The European Times 11 June 2022] [key] Qatar Persecution, Qatar; Remy Rowhani
    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 (East Timor) 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 Core Activities: 2016 100,000          2021 300,000

    Participants in Core Activities: 2016 approx 333,000          2021 2,000,000

    Number of National and Regional Training Institutes in Operation:      2021 329

    Number of participants who have complete at least one book in the sequence:      2021 750,000

    Number of courses completed by participants in the main sequence of courses: 2016 approx. 666,666     2021 2,000,000

    Number of Clusters with an Intensive Program of Growth:      2021 approx. 4,000

    Number of Cluster that have passed the third milestone: 2016 20 in 40 countries          2021 1,000 in nearly 100 countries. [Riḍván Message 2021]

    BWC Statistics
    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 14 Mar The pouring of the concrete floor slab for the main edifice was completed and some of the walls enclosing the north and the south plazas were near completion. [BWNS1497] [key] BWC Abdu'l-Baha, shrine of; BWNS
    2021 15 - 26 Mar 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The Baha’i International Community’s (BIC) 49 delegates joined more than 25,000 participants from around the world for the gathering. This was the largest gathering since the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing, held with the purpose of advancing the global discourse on gender equality. The CSW took place virtually this year in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which allowed the Baha’i International Community to send a diverse delegation of men and women from Mexico, France, Australia, Ethiopia, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Canada, the United States, and many other countries (reference in Baha'i Canada)
  • The film, Glimpses into the Spirit of Gender Equality, was released at the 65th UN Commission on the Status of Women, as the Baha’i International Community’s contribution to the celebration of 25 years since the landmark 4th World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing, China. Premiered online in March 2021, the film highlights urban and rural grassroots experiences in applying the spiritual principle of gender equality, drawing from the momentum generated since Beijing.
  • United Nations; Baha'i International Community
    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; Congo, Democratic Republic of (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 UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report on Yemen stating that the country remained the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and aid operation. The crisis was the result of a brutal armed conflict that escalated six years prior. It has killed and injured tens of thousands of civilians, causing immense suffering for the Yemeni people. In 2020, the conflict intensified, the number of frontlines increased from 33 to 49, and 172,000 people were displaced, bringing the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) to at least 4 million.

    Yemen was reliant on import for 90% of its food. The situation was exacerbated by the global COVID-19 turndown which led to a sharp drop in remittances – the largest source of foreign currency and a lifeline for many families where 80 per cent of people live below the poverty line. As a result, millions more people could not afford to meet their basic needs. A fuel crisis in the north led to fuel shortages and price hikes. Government capacity to regularly pay salaries and pensions to public employees has been hindered and public services have been degraded. Between April and August 2020, heavy rains and flooding devastated communities, causing deaths and injuries, destroying infrastructure and livelihoods, and increasing the spread of deadly diseases. Tens of thousands of families were affected, many of them already displaced. Other natural hazards posed a threat, including desert locust infestations. The impact of the drivers of the crisis is most visible in the growing risk of famine and severe acute malnutrition, disease outbreaks, conflict casualties, forced displacement and reversal of past development gains. In addition, the conduct of the parties to the conflict had had a profound impact on the aid operation – particularly humanitarian access, aid delivery and data collection. [OCHA Report]

    In July it was reported that a large part of the population had been affected by heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding. Covid-19 continued to ravage the population. (No sports were available form the north of the country where the pandemic was not recognized. 11.3 million children were in need of humanitarian assistance and 20.7 million people were in need. [Reliefweb] [key]

    Yemen United Nations
    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]
  • YouTube.
  • 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; Gender; Equality; 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 Dec As part of the series of events to mark the 10 year anniversary of the revelation in Tunisia, the Bahá’í community hosted a gathering, coinciding with UN Human Rights Day, to explore new conceptions of citizenship. The gathering brought together distinguished guests including Member of Parliament Jamila Ksiksi, Omar Fassatoui from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as academics and representatives of religious communities. In addition to participants who attended in person, thousands more were connected to the discussions through a live stream of the event.

    Mr. Ben Moussa of the Bahá’í Office of External Affairs expressed the opinion that new notions of citizenship must be based on inclusivity and not exclusivity, stating: “Societies have historically been built hierarchically: believer and nonbeliever, free person and slave, man and women. As a result, many segments of society have not been able to contribute to public life. In such an environment, a society is not able to reach its potential. [BWNS1476] [key]

    Tunis; Tunisia Ben Moussa
    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 11 Dec Work on the concrete walls and roof beams of the central edifice had been completed; work on the steelwork for the roof, the cladding for the external walls, and the decorations for the pillars and doorways continued. Work on the Reception Centre and other ancillary buildings were near completion.
  • The steel work to support the roof tiles was in place and the steelwork was covered with waterproofing and plaster.
  • The planters on the plinth around the central edifice were being prepared, work was just beginning on the gardens and paths that will surround the temple. [BWNS1473] [key]
  • Matunda Soy; Kenya BWNS; Mashriqu’l-Adhkar; Local House of Worship
    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]

    Tihran; 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; Iran Wire 22NOV20] [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.
  • Facebook page.
  • 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 18 Nov The United Nations General Assembly had passed a resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran and calling on Iran to honour the human rights of all its citizens, including members of the Bahá'í faith.

    The resolution asks Iran to “eliminate, in law and practice… all forms of discrimination on the basis of thought, conscience, religion or belief, including economic restrictions… [and] the denial of and restrictions on access to education, including for members of the Bahá'í faith.” It also urges an end to “other human rights violations against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.”

    This deprivation of the freedom to practice their religion is a breach of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The United Nations covenant holds that every person has the right to freedom of religion, freedom of converting religion, as well as freedom of expression, individually or collectively; openly or secretly.

    Just four days after the UN resolution was passed there were raids on Bahá'í homes in Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan and its suburbs, Mashhad and Kerman. [Iran Press Watch 22 November 2020; Iran Press Watch 23 November 2020] [key]

    Tihran; Karaj; Isfahan; Mashhad: Kerman; Iran United Nations; Persecution, Iran; BWNS
    2020 16 Nov Progress report for the construction of the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was issued by the World Centre. Since the completion of the foundations for the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the first vertical elements were being raised. The subterranean portion of the structure, which will lie beneath the circular geometry, was also beginning to take shape. [BWNS1467]
  • Video.
  • Photos.
  • YouTube.
  • BWC Abdu’l-Baha, Shrine of; BWNS
    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 Counsellors

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