of the Followers
by Abdu'l-Bab as-Sahyuni
Throughout the past century, the Baha'is of Iran have
been persecuted. With the triumph of the Islamic revolution in 1979, this
persecution has been systematized. More than 200 Baha'is 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 Baha'i administrative structures have been banned by the government,
and holy places, shrines and cemeteries have been confiscated, vandalized,
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 Baha'is 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
While we have no desire to try and argue in favor of the validity of
the Baha'i 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 Baha'i
faith or the Sikh faith. We are staunch Atheists, but will always side
with tolerant Hindus, Sikhs, Baha'is, 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 Baha'is.
The powers that be in many Islamic countries have expressed a deep hatred
for the gentle Baha'is, 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 Baha'i 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 Baha'is is found on every level of the global
ummah, from high-ranking clerics, to part-time cyber-mujahideen
thugs who invade Baha'i 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 Baha'is
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-Baha'i fascists cooked up the
fictitious Memoirs of Count Dogorouki, a manuscript of Persian origin
that claims a Russian diplomat confessed to creating the Baha'i faith as
part of a plot to extend Russian imperialism. After the Russian revolution,
interpretations of the Memoirs were changed to claim that the Baha'i
faith was a Soviet/Marxist conspiracy.
When Britain tried to colonize Iran, the claim that the Baha'is were
"British agents" became quite popular4. Of course, after the
creation of the state of Israel, the fact that the Baha'is 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-Baha'iyyah, aw Banu Sahyun wa Tabaqatuhum al-Musee'ah.5
That book, like many after it, claimed that the Baha'is 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 Baha'is were in the land now called
Israel long before 1948, and were actually sent there by the Sultan of
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 Baha'i6 (Qum; Alama Press).
The book openly promoted the wholesale slaughter of Baha'is, 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
Later books would make note of the fact, often pushed by many Iranis,
that there were Baha'is 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 Baha'is. The group was in favor of killing Baha'is for their blasphemous
beliefs (including the erroneous claim that Baha'is assume themselves to
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 Baha'is, and later, hatred could be
whipped up against others simply by associating that group with the Baha'i
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 Baha'is charged with
the heinous crime of working for the Shah, but the Shah was criticized
for working with the Baha'i! This sort of idiocy could be found when Ayatollah
Khomeini charged the Shah with, among other things, "giving high offices
to the Baha'is."8
Of course, when it came to the Baha'is, 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 Baha'i, 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 Baha'is 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 anouncements - 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 Baha'i leaders shot for being "foreign spies."13 Unfortunately,
one sad case involved the execution of ten Baha'i women on June 18, 1983,
including the very beautiful 17-year-old Mona Mahmudnizhad. One Baha'i
magazine recounted this horrible event as follows:
In June 1983, for example, the Iranian authorities arrested
ten Baha'i women and girls. The charge against them: teaching children's
classes on the Baha'i 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 Baha'i prisoners. Yet, like most Baha'is 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 Baha'is 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 Baha'is.
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 ([email protected])|
Subject: IRI on Bahai Question
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
Date: 6/12/69 [25 February 1991]
Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani
Head of the Office of the Esteemed Leader [Khamenei]
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
Preferably, they should be enrolled in schools which have a strong and imposing
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
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
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
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)
The persecution of Baha'is in Iran, The Baha'is: A Profile of
the Baha'i Faith and its Worldwide Community, (Baha'i International,
1999) p. 59.
Al-Liwa' al-Islami (Cairo; 23 Jan, 1986).
An obvious forgery which nevertheless is still widely circulated in Arabic,
Urdu, and Farsi around the Islamic world.
Make note that to this day Orthodox Muslims also claim that the Qadiani
sect was created by the British as well.
The English translation of that title would be "Freemasonry and Baha'ism,
or Sons of Zion and their Corrupt System."
The English translation of the Farsi title is, roughly, "Insecticide for
This is recorded in the April 5 and 19 issues of al-Muslimun (Jeddah;
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.
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.
This has been recorded in H. Fardoust, "Television Interviews," Kayhan-e
Hava'i, 1 July-23 Oct. 1991.
Abrahamian, Khomeinism, p. 129.
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.
Abrahamian, Tortured Confessions, p. 222.
The persecution of Baha'is in Iran, The Baha'is, p. 59.