|Heechee kam nadaaran
When are we going to recognize Bahais?
By Jahanshah Javid
July 3, 2002
The reason I'm writing is that my Internet connection has been down for the past
11 hours. I have already edited (well, browsed through) five opinion pieces (my brain
needs some serious rest). My work is done for the day, basically. But I have to wait
for the connection to come back on.
Of course I've thought about writing something about Bahais for some time. I'm just
fascinated by the fact that we -- nearly every non-Bahai Iranian -- do not really
consider Bahais as Iranian. We consider them bastard children of British colonialism
aiming to destroy Islam, specifically Shi'ite Islam. They're not even "other"
Iranians. We see them as something else. Or maybe we don't see them at all.
Okay, okay! Not EVERY non-Bahai feels that way. But come on... who are we kidding?
As far as I know, and please correct me, Bahais in Iran have no rights whatsoever.
Think about that. We bitch and moan about the condition of women and lack of freedoms
under that good for nothing theocracy and meanwhile we totally ignore what's been
happening to the Bahais. Yes Bahais. Remember them?
Why do we treat Bahais so badly? Or at least why aren't we concerned when they are
treated badly? Is it that we don't care? Yes. It's because we don't give a damn what
happens to Bahais. Haqeshooneh, we say.
For a people who care so much about their aaberoo, we don't seem to get it that the
biggest aaberooreezee of all is the way we have tolerated the persecution of Bahais.
May I suggest a change of attitude? A little consideration?
I can't make heads or tales out of the Bahai faith or religion or whatever they call
it. But what's the difference between that and Islam and Judaism, or Christianity,
or I don't know... Hinduism or any other faith? Who's to say which one is more authentic?
To me, all religion is hocus pocus anyway.
(God... I hope my Internet connection comes back soon.)
We can argue all we want about how Bahaism started and what it stands for. In the
end, what we are dealing with is an idea. No one should be stripped of human rights
for believing in something we don't. We can't eliminate a whole group of people because
we don't like how they think.
What I'm trying to say is that a person's beliefs should not bring punishment. It's
a really simple concept. And yet we ignore it - especially when it comes to Bahais.
Why is that? Why should they be excluded from all public spheres and discriminated
against on every level? Don't tell me it's all the government's fault. And no, you
can't blame it all on Islam or the mullahs either.
What about you and me? What's our excuse? What have Bahais done to deserve our scorn
-- and most of all, indifference? Dard o marazemoon chiyeh?
We, as a nation, have passively, carelessly, callously watched this inhumanity for
decades. We respect Jews (when we're in a generous mood) only because they are people
of the Book and all that crap. But when it comes to Bahais... I don't know what it
is. They don't even exist.
This is an important issue just by the fact that non-Bahais don't think it's
an important issue. A whole group of people, hundreds of thousands of them in Iran,
have been persecuted in the most deliberate and cruel fashion for three generations
(is my math correct?) and yet our dissident literature is virtually silent on this
Go ahead. Go and shed a tear for Palestinians. They deserve it. Israel is crushing
them like ants. But when you get a chance, do give a shit about Bahais too. You want
a noble cause? You want to scream and shout about injustice? I'm telling you... Bahais
have been really underrated as far as causes go.
Don't you think we need to care? If we don't care, if we don't support and demand
human rights for Bahais, who will? The government? The mullahs? The fanatics? Why
should the American government care and not us? When are we going to wake up to this
terrible tragedy? Oy! Baa toam!
Don't send emails that Islam is the root of all evil or Bahais have themselves to
blame. I most certainly don't want to see rehashed British conspiracy theories filling
my inbox. Take responsibility for a change. Just open your eyes to what these people
have been going through JUST BECAUSE THEY BELIEVE IN SOMETHING DIFFERENT. You and
me are every bit as responsible. Because we don't care.
(Where's my bloody Internet connection?!)
You would expect that a century and a half of persecution and a quarter of a century
of systematic dehumanization under the present clowns would make Bahais a bit insecure
or bitter. You would have a huge chip on your shoulder if you were a Bahai, no? And
yet Bahais don't have an inferiority complex at all. So it seems.
I mean if there are Bahais with a victim mentality, I haven't met any (bar akse maa!).
And while Bahai-bashers are busy doing God's crooked work, Bahaism is spreading like
no other religion. Why wouldn't it? It's harmless. It's inclusive. It welcomes you
with open arms. It's all nice and sweet and goody goody.
Look. If you wanted to pick a religion these days, what would you choose? You would
think about the symbols associated with that religion. You hear and read their main
slogans and catch phrases. You observe and interact with their followers. And you
do a bit of research (even though facts have very little to do with how you come
to accept a particular faith. It's all show business.)
What are the most prominent Islamic symbols floating around? Angry faces, violence,
chador, stoning, revolution, martyrdom, blood. And more blood. And what about the
Bahai symbols? I don't know... Peace, love, tolerance. Happy faces?
Now, if you knew nothing else about either religion, which one would you pick?
(Somebody save me...)
Even if you don't like Bahaism, at least be fair. Give credit where it's due. Bab
or Bahaulla or whoever started the Bahai faith should be recognized as a very significant
(if not great) historic figure in Iranian history. For God's sake his movement is
flourishing in every corner of the world. And he wasn't an Arab like the other fellow.
Okay that was a cheap shot.
I better shut up now. I'm going jogging. Ageh barnagashtam halaalam koneen.