Writing for the Washington Post, Reza Aslan, author of the new book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," argues that if the Iranian president is really serious about reform, "he must address the proverbial third rail in Iranian politics: the horrific human rights abuses aimed at Iran’s small yet historic Baha’i community."
The Bahá'í faith originated in Iran in 1863. A young Iranian who called himself “The Báb” founded the religion which today claims about 6 million adherents. The Bahá'í accept all religions and the divine nature of Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad.
The Iranian government has persecuted the Bahá'í community since its beginning. Muslims saw it as heretical to Islam and killed almost 20,000 followers in the mid-1800s. Bahá'í literature was banned in the 1930’s and Bahá'í marriages were not recognized. Persecution developed again in 1979 after the Iranian revolution. Authorities imprisoned thousands of followers, suspended services in holy places and shrines and destroyed or vandalized them.
Here is a 20/20 news story about Baha’i persecution in Iran. It originally aired in 1983.
- "Silenced in Iran: The Plight of Bahai Prisoners of Conscience," from the Daily Beast
- "The systematic persecution of the Baha’i in Iran," from Iran Presswatch
- "Op-Ed: Propaganda desensitizes Iranian public to Baha'i persecution," from the Digital Journal
- "Baha'i is most persecuted religion in Iran - U.N. investigator" from Reuters.