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Abstract:
A sympathetic overview by "Freethought Mecca" of persecution of Baha'is, and activities of the Iranian government.
Notes:
This essay was originally posted at a Geocities site Freethought Mecca, which is now defunct.

Protocols of the Followers of Baha'u'llah:
Anti-Bahá'í propaganda in Iran

by Abdu'l-Bab as-Sahyuni

1998
Throughout the past century, the Bahá'ís of Iran have been persecuted. With the triumph of the Islamic revolution in 1979, this persecution has been systematized. More than 200 Bahá'ís have been executed or killed, hundreds more have been imprisoned, and tens of thousands have been deprived of jobs, pensions, businesses, and educational opportunities. All national Bahá'í administrative structures have been banned by the government, and holy places, shrines and cemeteries have been confiscated, vandalized, or destroyed.1

While we here at the Freethought Mecca often poke fun at our membership in various Zionist and Freemason funded conspiracies, the existence of real victims of such accusations is no laughing matter. The Bahá'ís in Iran have taken the role of the Jews in medieval Christian Europe. They are persecuted for crimes they committed only in the imagination of religious fascists.

While we have no desire to try and argue in favor of the validity of the Bahá'í faith, this article is meant to scratch the surface of the persecution they suffer. The FTMecca's position will always be militantly anti-Monotheist, a'oodhu bish-Shaytaani, but we have no bone to pick with the relatively tolerant Monotheists who worship the somewhat benign gods of the Bahá'í faith or the Sikh faith. We are staunch Atheists, but will always side with tolerant Hindus, Sikhs, Bahá'ís, or Animists over followers of the Orthodox forms of the brutal Monotheist three (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) any day! This is why we feel the need to make mention of the persecution of the Bahá'ís.

The powers that be in many Islamic countries have expressed a deep hatred for the gentle Bahá'ís, and openly acknowledge the faith as a threat to the true deen. The persecution is not only in Iran, but all over West Asia and North Africa (the so-called "Middle East"). In January of 1986, one Egyptian cleric remarked that "a Bahá'í deserves the penalty of an apostate... one who should either be brought to repentance or killed."2 This is how the "tolerant" and "loving" scholars of Allah's true religion feel about those who put forth a more peace-loving version of their faith.

This deep animosity for the Bahá'ís is found on every level of the global ummah, from high-ranking clerics, to part-time cyber-mujahideen thugs who invade Bahá'í newsgroups and chats. The fact that Muslims would show so much hatred for such a tolerant religion is one that leaves yet another black eye on the already besmirched record of the Islamic religion. Because of this, the Muslims often try justify their hatred for Bahá'ís by cooking up all sorts of insane conspiracy theories about them being Zionists, Free Masons, or a plot hatched by the Soviets.

The first step was to follow in the footsteps of similar sorts of insane conspiracy theories launched at the Jews. Just as there is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion3, anti-Bahá'í fascists cooked up the fictitious Memoirs of Count Dogorouki, a manuscript of Persian origin that claims a Russian diplomat confessed to creating the Bahá'í faith as part of a plot to extend Russian imperialism. After the Russian revolution, interpretations of the Memoirs were changed to claim that the Bahá'í faith was a Soviet/Marxist conspiracy.

When Britain tried to colonize Iran, the claim that the Bahá'ís were "British agents" became quite popular4. Of course, after the creation of the state of Israel, the fact that the Bahá'ís had headquaters in Haifa helped corroborate the claim that they were "Zionists." Another tag that was later added was that of "Freemasons" (which is a wholly ambiguous term for the collective bogeyman from the Islamic standpoint, and has nothing to do with the realities of that Fraternal order). This hysteria reached its peak when, in 1976, Baghdad's al-Hawadith press published the book al-Masuniyya wa'l-Bahá'íyyah, aw Banu Sahyun wa Tabaqatuhum al-Musee'ah.5

That book, like many after it, claimed that the Bahá'ís were part of a Masonic-Zionist conspiracy, and cited the usual nonsense (base in Haifa) as evidence for their irrelevant conclusions. Of course, it doesn't matter to such people that the apolitical Bahá'ís were in the land now called Israel long before 1948, and were actually sent there by the Sultan of Turkey!

Of course, this sort of hatred was nothing new. Just two years before, in 1974 (and five years before the revolution) Muhammad Mahdi Murtadavi wrote his Imshi bi-haaharat-i Bahá'í6 (Qum; Alama Press). The book openly promoted the wholesale slaughter of Bahá'ís, including women and children. The fact that even children are seen as fodder for genocide is one that is truly a testament to the kind of hatred behind such writings.

Later books would make note of the fact, often pushed by many Iranis, that there were Bahá'ís who worked for the Shah of Iran prior to the revolution of 1979. I suppose it doesn't matter that ten times as many Muslims worked for the Shah. This is just another senseless piece of evidence that is thrown around to condemn any enemy. In April of 1986, the so-called "Council of Islamic Organizations" had a meeting in Makkah that included a discussion on Bahá'ís. The group was in favor of killing Bahá'ís for their blasphemous beliefs (including the erroneous claim that Bahá'ís assume themselves to be prophets)7.

It is truly amazing how institutionalized hatred is self-reinforcing. The Muslims are able to whip up hatred against a group simply by calling them "Jews," as has been done to the Bahá'ís, and later, hatred could be whipped up against others simply by associating that group with the Bahá'í faith. This circular and self-reinforcing hysteria creates a chain of characters acting on behalf of the monolithic evil that exists only in the mind of religiosu fanatics. For example, not only were Irani Bahá'ís charged with the heinous crime of working for the Shah, but the Shah was criticized for working with the Bahá'í! This sort of idiocy could be found when Ayatollah Khomeini charged the Shah with, among other things, "giving high offices to the Bahá'ís."8

Of course, when it came to the Bahá'ís, Khomeini and his chronies were completely mad. Consider the following:

    Khomeini also denounced the Bahais as a "subversive conspiracy" and a "secret political organization" that had originally been created by Britain but now was controlled by Israel and the United States. "Reagan supports the Bahais," he argued, "in the same way that the Soviets control the Tudeh. The Bahais are not a religion but a secretive organization plotting to subvert the Islamic republic. [...] He also preached that the Bahais had taken over the Iranian economy, and the shah was working hand-in-glove with the Bahais and communists against the true Muslims. [...] Kayhan-e Hava'i argued that the Bahais had always worked as foreign slaves (ghulam), first for the Tsarists, then for the British and Ottomans, and now for the Israelis and Americans. [...] Similarly, history textbooks describe Bahaism as a "political conspiracy" hatched by nineteenth-century European imperialists to break the unity of Islam.9
Of course, some of these absurd conspiracy theories are even further corroborated by forced confessions, televised on Irani television throughout the 80s. In 1988, General Hosayn Fardoust, former head of the Shah's Imperial Inspectorate, was coerced into giving a televised confession10. Among other absurd claims, Fardoust confirmed that the Shah, his childhood friend, was a secret Bahá'í, though Ervand Abrahamian, professor at the City University of New York, noted that "this confession, like all television confessions, should be taken with a grain of salt[.]11"

Coerced confessions were quite common in Iran in the 80s. Communists, Atheists, fornicators, government officials, and numerous others were forced into giving "confessions" that both praised the Islamic regime as well as confirm the ridiculous myths the regime promoted. The Bahá'ís were not excluded from this modern-day sort of inquisition:

    Although Bahais were subjected to the same torture process, they were rarely forced before the television cameras. Instead, they were compelled to place announcements - often no longer than one short paragraph - in the daily papers paying allegiancee to Shi'i Islam and disassociating themselves from the "bombastic," "cruel," and "Zionist Bahai organization." The regime insists that the Bahais are suspect not because of their "religious beliefs" but because "their organization by its very nature is a Zionist-imperialist conspiracy" - that is, they are suspect not because of their own beliefs but because they belong to an organization whose beliefs inevitably make them into "spies," "plotters," "troublemakers," and "apostates."12
This was a frightening system that lasted for well over a decade, seeing many Bahá'í leaders shot for being "foreign spies."13 Unfortunately, one sad case involved the execution of ten Bahá'í women on June 18, 1983, including the very beautiful 17-year-old Mona Mahmudnizhad. One Bahá'í magazine recounted this horrible event as follows:
    In June 1983, for example, the Iranian authorities arrested ten Bahá'í women and girls. The charge against them: teaching children's classes on the Bahá'í faith - the equivalent of Sunday school in the West. The women were subjected to intense physical and mental abuse in an effort to coerce them to recant their Faith - an option that is always pressed on Bahá'í prisoners. Yet, like most Bahá'ís who were arrested in Iran, they refused to deny their beliefs. As a result, they were executed.14
Numerous other examples could be given, but we think this is a decent enough intro to the sort of atrocities Bahá'ís have been subject to at the hands of "tolerant" and "peaceful" Muslims. Anyone who is familiar with fascist conspiracy theories about the Jews will be able to immediately see the same sort of idiocy reflected in the Islamic treatment of the Bahá'ís. Any person that would preach genocide for pacifists whom they perceive as a threat is one who should be thought of as truly "evil" (whatever that means).

To put the final touches on this insanity, consider this Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) policy statement which an IRI supporter was kind enough to post to the usenet newsgroup soc.culture.iranian:

From: Ali 209198 (ali209198@aol.com)
Subject: IRI on Bahai Question
Newsgroups: soc.culture.iranian
Date: 1998/12/10

inshallah the cancer of bahism will be erased from iran

The 1991 Iranian Government document on "the Bahá'í question"

In the Name of God!

The Islamic Republic of Iran

The Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council

Number: 1327/....
Date: 6/12/69 [25 February 1991]
Enclosure: None

CONFIDENTIAL

Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani
Head of the Office of the Esteemed Leader [Khamenei]

Greetings!

After greetings, with reference to the letter #1/783 dated 10/10/69 [31 December 1990], concerning the instructions of the Esteemed Leader which had been conveyed to the Respected President regarding the Bahá'í question, we inform you that, since the respected President and the Head of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council had referred this question to this Council for consideration and study, it was placed on the Council's agenda of session #128 on 16/11/69 [5 February 1991] and session #119 of 2/11/69 [22 January 1991]. In addition to the above, and further to the [results of the] discussions held in this regard in session #112 of 2/5/66 [24 July 1987] presided over by the Esteemed Leader (head and member of the Supreme Council), the recent views and directives given by the Esteemed Leader regarding the Bahá'í question were conveyed to the Supreme Council. In consideration of the contents of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the religious and civil laws and general policies of the country, these matters were carefully studied and decisions pronounced.

In arriving at the decisions and proposing reasonable ways to counter the above question, due consideration was given to the wishes of the Esteemed Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran [Khamenei], namely, that "in this regard a specific policy should be devised in such a way that everyone will understand what should or should not be done". Consequently, the following proposals and recommendations resulted from these discussions.

The respected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as the Head of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council, while approving these recommendations, instructed us to convey them to the Esteemed Leader [Khamenei] so that appropriate action may be taken according to his guidance.

SUMMARY OF THE RESULTS OF THE DISCUSSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION

General status of the Bahá'ís within the country's system:
They will not be expelled from the country without reason.
They will not be arrested, imprisoned, or penalized without reason.
The Government's dealings with them must be in such a way that their progress and development are blocked.

Educational and cultural status:
They can be enrolled in schools provided they have not identified themselves as Bahá'ís.
Preferably, they should be enrolled in schools which have a strong and imposing religious ideology.
They must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Bahá'ís.
Their political (espionage) activities must be dealt with according to appropriate Government laws and policies, and their religious and propaganda activities should be answered by giving them religious and cultural responses, as well as propaganda.
Propaganda institutions (such as the Islamic Propaganda Organization) must establish an independent section to counter the propaganda and religious activities of the Bahá'ís.
A plan must be devised to confront and destroy their cultural roots outside the country.

Legal and social status:
Permit them a modest livelihood as is available to the general population.
To the extent that it does not encourage them to be Bahá'ís, it is permissible to provide them the means for ordinary living in accordance with the general rights given to every Iranian citizen, such as ration booklets, passports, burial certificates, work permits, etc.
Deny them employment if they identify themselves as Bahá'ís.
Deny them any position of influence, such as in the educational sector, etc.

Wishing you divine confirmations, Secretary of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council

Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani [Signature]

[Note in the handwriting of Mr. Khamenei]

In the Name of God!

The decision of the Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council seems sufficient. I thank you gentlemen for your attention and efforts. [signed:] Ali Khamenei

"Melt into and love Imam Khomeini in the same manner he melted into and loved Islam." (Martyred Ayatullah al-Uzma Sayyid Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr)


NOTES

  1. The persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran, The Bahá'ís: A Profile of the Bahá'í Faith and its Worldwide Community, (Bahá'í International, 1999) p. 59.
  2. Al-Liwa' al-Islami (Cairo; 23 Jan, 1986).
  3. An obvious forgery which nevertheless is still widely circulated in Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi around the Islamic world.
  4. Make note that to this day Orthodox Muslims also claim that the Qadiani sect was created by the British as well.
  5. The English translation of that title would be "Freemasonry and Bahá'ísm, or Sons of Zion and their Corrupt System."
  6. The English translation of the Farsi title is, roughly, "Insecticide for Bahá'í Insects."
  7. This is recorded in the April 5 and 19 issues of al-Muslimun (Jeddah; 1986).
  8. Examples of such claims can be found in Khomeini's speeches as found in H. Ruhani's Nahzat-e Imam Khomeini (The movement of Imam Khomeini), (Tehran, 1984), vol. 1, pp. 142-753. Also see Ervand Abrahamian's Khomeinism, (Univ. of California, 1993) p. 21.
  9. Abrahamian, Khomeinism, p. 124. For further examples, Abrahamian directs readers towards the following: (1) Khomeini's speech in Ettelacat, 29 May, 1983. (2) Ruhani, Nahzat-e Imam Khomeini, vol. 2, pp. 598, 607-608. (3) "Bahaism," Kayhan-e Hava'i, 30 Dec. 1987-16 Nov. 1988. (4) Ministry of Education, Tarikh-e Mocaser-e Iran, Year 3, pp. 37-38.
  10. This has been recorded in H. Fardoust, "Television Interviews," Kayhan-e Hava'i, 1 July-23 Oct. 1991.
  11. Abrahamian, Khomeinism, p. 129.
  12. Ervand Abrahamian, Tortured Confessions, (Univ. of California, 1999) p. 143. As an example, consider "Interview with the Chief Prosecutor," Kayhan-e Hava'i, 21 December, 1983.
  13. Abrahamian, Tortured Confessions, p. 222.
  14. The persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran, The Bahá'ís, p. 59.
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