Islamic Tolerance Alert from the New Duranty Times, aka the New York Times, with thanks to Cornelius:
Members of the Bahai religious minority in Iran said this week that the government had recently intensified a campaign of arrests, raids and propaganda that was aimed at eradicating their religion in Iran, the country of its birth.
On May 19, Iranian security officials arrested 54 Bahais in the city of Shiraz who were involved in a community service project, many of them in their teens and early 20’s, said diplomatic officials and Bahai officials outside of Iran.
They were not charged and all but three were released within six days, these officials said.
It was the largest mass arrest of Bahais since the 1980’s, when thousands of them were imprisoned and more than 200 were executed by the new Islamic government.
The developments have alarmed human rights monitors at the United Nations, who say that since December, the government newspaper in Tehran has published more than 30 articles denigrating the Bahai faith “” even accusing Bahais of sacrificing Muslim children on holy days. The arrests coincided with raids on six Bahai homes, in which notebooks, documents and computers were confiscated. More than 70 other Bahais have been arrested since January 2005 in smaller clusters, and some are still being held, the monitors said.
“We see a pattern emerging that is quite ominous,” said Bani Dugal, who represents the Bahai International Community at the United Nations, where religious and some other groups have consultative status. “It’s basically trying to create terror in the Bahai community, and also to win over the Iranian population to accept it.”…
Unlike Jews and Christians, who have seats in Iran’s Parliament set aside for them as religious minorities, Bahais in Iran are considered “unprotected infidels,” said Kit Bigelow, director for external affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States. Bahais are not permitted to attend college, work for the government or practice their faith openly….
Asma Jahangir, the United Nations special rapporteur who monitors freedom of religion for the Commission on Human Rights, announced in March that she had just learned about a confidential letter from the chairman of the command headquarters of Iran’s armed forces instructing government agencies to identify all Bahais and monitor their activities.
Ms. Jahangir said the letter was sent on Oct. 29, 2005, on the orders of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ms. Jahangir said in a statement in March that she was concerned that “information gained as a result of such monitoring will be used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Bahai faith, in violation of international standards.”…
The United States Congress is considering a resolution that would condemn the Iranian government for repressing Bahais and call on President Bush to make the abuse of Bahais a significant factor in United States foreign policy.
Representative Mark Steven Kirk, an Illinois Republican who co-sponsored the resolution with Representative Tom Lantos of California, said, “My fear is that if the regime leads the country into a confrontation with the West, it will be the cover for a great human rights crime, as happened before.”