LizKauai

Personal blog of Liz from Kauai.

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Baha'i, Mom and Grandma, Fish Breeder, Sports Fan

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Protection for Prisoners

Baha’u'llah instructs that believers must detach themselves and recite this prayer nine times.

He is, in truth, the Omnipotent, the Unconstrained! O Lord of Names and Fashioner of the Heavens!
Free Thy lovers from the prison of the enemy. Verily, Thou art the Sovereign Ordainer of Thine irrevocable decree. He who alone shineth resplendent on the horizon of creation. O Everlasting Root! By the life of the All-Glorious, deprive them not of hope, nay rather aid and assist them. Verily, Thou rulest as Thou pleasest and within Thy grasp lie the kingdoms of creation. The fangs of Thine enemies have been whetted, ready to bite into the flesh of Thy lovers.
Protect these companions, O Thou Who rulest over all humankind and art the Judge on the Day of Judgement.

Iran Accuses 7 Jailed Leaders of Bahai Faith of Espionage

By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, February 18, 2009; Page A09
TEHRAN, Feb. 17 -- Seven leaders of the Bahai faith who have been detained for more than eight months in Iran have been officially accused of espionage, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said Tuesday.
"Next week, an indictment will be issued and will be discussed in court," judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told reporters, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. The seven leaders were arrested in May, prompting international criticism of Iran for its treatment of Bahai followers.
On Friday, in response to initial reports that the seven leaders would be charged with spying, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood issued a statement condemning the leveling of "baseless charges" against the Bahai leaders. "The accusations reported in Iranian and international media are part of the ongoing persecution of Bahai in Iran," Wood said.
Bahai officials also said the Iranian detainees were innocent of the charges.
Followers of the Bahai faith, an offshoot of Islam that originated in 19th-century Persia, say the Bahai founder is the final prophet, a distinction that Muslim scholars say should be reserved for the prophet Muhammad. Iranian officials do not recognize the Bahai faith as a religion, referring to it as an "organization."

Bahais claim 300,000 followers in Iran, but there are no independent statistics on the denomination's size in the country. The Islamic republic allows Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, who are regarded as members of monotheistic religions, to hold religious gatherings. Bahais are forbidden to hold such meetings, and those who make their faith public are banned from studying at universities, serving in the army and working in government offices.
The seven arrested Bahais form the leadership of the sect in Iran. The Bahai International Community, which represents members of the faith worldwide, says hundreds of followers have been jailed and some executed in the years since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran denies that it has detained or executed people because of their religion.
"Any activity which would be propagation against the country, system and Islam is certainly a crime, and the instigators will be punished," Jamshidi said in response to a question about a letter by Iran's prosecutor general in which Bahais were portrayed as spies for Israel. "However, there is no problem for these people in Iran, just as they have lived in Iran for years," he said.
The prosecutor general, Ayatollah Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, wrote in a letter made public Sunday that there are "strong and long-term relations between the Bahais and the Zionists," as Iranian officials often refer to Israelis. The Bahai headquarters is in Haifa, Israel, but the denomination says it has adherents in virtually every country.
"All evidence points to the fact that the Bahai organization is in direct contact with the foreign enemies of Iran," Dorri-Najafabadi wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei. The letter appeared in the Kayhan newspaper, which has strong ties to the government.
"The ghastly Bahai organization is illegal on all levels, their dependence on Israel has been documented, their antagonism with Islam and the Islamic System is obvious, their danger for national security is proven and any replacement organization must also be dealt with according to the law," Dorri-Najafabadi wrote.
Abdolfattah Soltani, one of the lawyers for the Bahai leaders, said he had not been permitted to meet with his clients. "How can I make my case ready? I'm only their lawyer in name," he said in an interview. The Bahais are also being represented by Soltani's colleague Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and Nobel peace laureate.
"Like most political or faith-related cases in Iran, due, fair and legal procedures were not observed," Soltani said. "I believe that this legal procedure is not ethically, humanly or legally acceptable."
Jamshidi, the judiciary spokesman, said the Bahais will be allowed to bring lawyers to court hearings next week.
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Rainn Wilson says fellow members of his Baha'i faith are being persecuted in Iran.
Rainn Wilson says fellow members of his Baha'i faith are being persecuted in Iran.
(CNN) -- Why is Rainn Wilson, "Dwight" on "The Office," writing a news commentary for CNN? Good question.
It's a bit strange for me, to say the least; a comic character actor best known for playing weirdos with bad haircuts getting all serious to talk about the persecution of the fellow members of his religious faith.
Dear readers of CNN, I assure you that what I'm writing about is no joking matter or some hoax perpetrated by a paper-sellin', bear-fearin', Battlestar-Galactica obsessed beet farmer.
I am a member of the Baha'i faith. What is that, you ask? Well, long story short, it's an independent world religion that began in the mid-1800s in Iran. Baha'is believe that there is only one God and therefore only one religion.
All of the world's divine teachers (Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Moses, Abraham, Krishna, etc.) bring essentially the same message -- one of unity, love and knowledge of God or the divine.
This constantly updated faith of God, Baha'is believe, has been refreshed for this day and age by our founder, Baha'u'llah. There. Nutshell version.
Now, as I mentioned, this all happened in Iran, and needless to say the Muslim authorities did not like the Baha'is very much, accusing them of heresy and apostasy. Tens of thousands were killed in the early years of the faith, and the persecutions have continued off and on for the past 150 years.
Why write about all this now? Well, I'm glad you asked. You see there's a 'trial' going on very soon for seven Baha'i national leaders in Iran.
They've been accused of all manner of things including being "spies for Israel," "insulting religious sanctities" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic."
They've been held for a year in Evin Prison in Tehran without any access to their lawyer (the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi) and with zero evidence of any of these charges.
When a similar thing happened in 1980, the national leadership of the Iranian Baha'i community disappeared. And this was repeated again in 1981.
In fact, since 1979, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed, holy places and cemeteries desecrated, homes burned, civil rights taken away and secret lists compiled of Baha'is (and even Muslims who associate with them) by government agencies.
It's bad right now for all the peace-loving Baha'is in Iran who want only to practice their religion and follow their beliefs. It's especially bad for these seven. Here's a link to their bios. They're teachers, and engineers, and optometrists and social workers just like us.
This thought has become kind of a cliché', but we take our rights for granted here in America. Imagine if a group of people were rounded up and imprisoned and then disappeared not for anything they'd done, but because they wanted to worship differently than the majority.
There is a resolution on the situation of the Baha'is in Iran being sent to Congress. Please ask your representatives to support it. And ask them to speak out about this terrible situation.
Thanks for reading. Now back to bears, paper and beets!
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rainn Wilson.


12 Comments:

Anonymous wafan said...

Whew, what a story! But then, does it really surprise you it happened in Iran?

It also happened here in the very early years with the Pilgrims. Roger Williams (no, not the singer) was one of the original founders of Providence -- later Rhode Island Colony.

Seems religion is one of the causes of acts against humanity. Quite the paradox if you think about it.

February 17, 2009 at 7:04 AM  
Anonymous gigi-hawaii said...

I don't believe in organized religion anymore. Too much death and destruction associated with it.

February 17, 2009 at 10:08 AM  
Anonymous wafan said...

GG . . .

Ummm, would that be disorganized or unorganized religion then?

February 17, 2009 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous gigi-hawaii said...

Wafan -- Religion that is organized enough to launch an attack against people, e.g., the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Crusades and the Inquisition.

February 17, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Anonymous wafan said...

Seems all religions are organized. Whether or not they initiate an attack on anyone or anything, or suppress people or ideas is, of course, open for debate.

February 17, 2009 at 3:05 PM  
Anonymous gigi-hawaii said...

Have Buddhists launched an attack against people? Don't think so.

February 17, 2009 at 3:11 PM  
Anonymous wafan said...

GG . . .

You might be right about Buddhists. Still an organized religion, though.

February 17, 2009 at 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Brian Barker said...

As far as an auxiliary language is concerned, can I put in a word for the global language Esperanto?

It's unfortunate that only a few people know that Esperanto has become a living language.

During a short period of 121 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide, according to the CIA factbook. It is the 17th most used language in Wikipedia, and in use by Skype, Firefox and Facebook.

Native Esperanto speakers,(people who have used the language from birth), include George Soros, World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to NATO and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet.

Further information can be seen at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670 A glimpse of the language can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

February 18, 2009 at 2:03 AM  
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