History Lesson: Dr. Mossadegh on the Rights of Bahais vs. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the Rights of Bahais

As Prime Minister, Dr. Mossadegh treated the Bahai citizens of Iran just like other citizens of Iran. This is one of the reasons Hojatolislam Falsafi and Ayatollah Behbahani strongly opposed Dr. Mossadegh and supported Mohammad Reza Shah (and the 1953 coup). Falsafi broke with the Shah and sided with Khomeini in 1963 due to the land reforms and female enfranchisement and replacing oath to Qoran with oath to a holy book. Hojatolislam Falsafi was a strong ally of the Shah and strong enemy of Dr. Mossadegh in the 1950s.


Mossadegh and Bahais:

pp. 7-8


n 1951 Falsafi approached Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh on behalf of Ayatollah Borujerdi inorder to discuss the Bahá’ís and their activities, but was rebuffed by Mossadegh who rejected the idea that the Bahá’ís were any different than Muslim Iranians.41

41 Id. at 138-139, and 200 (complaining that Mossadegh “didn’t see Bahá’ís as a threat and generally considered them part of the nation of Iran, [entitled to] the same rights as the Muslims.”)


Mohammad Reza Shah and the Bahais



Beginning of 1955 Opposition to Baha’is

It was stated earlier that after the 28 Mordad coup d’état [4], the mullas insisted on their significant share in the revolt, and this was only possible by suppression of the Tudeh Party and Baha’is. The furtive and renowned preacher, Hujjatu’l-Islam Muhammad-Taqi Falsafi, has stated in his memoirs that his sermons against the Baha’is took place with the prior consent of Ayatollah Borujerdi and Muhammad-Reza Shah. In an interview on 19 Urdibehesht 1334 [10 May 1955] with a reporter of “Itehad-e Melli” Journal, Falsafi described his meeting with Ayatollah Borujerdi in these words:

Before the blessed month of Ramadan, I went to Qum where I met Ayatollah Borujirdi and found him deeply distressed. He stated, “Now that the situation of the Oil industry has been resolved and the Tudeh Party has been neutralized, we must make plans for Baha’is and arise to this challenge.”

In Khaterat va Mubarezat [Memories and Struggles], Muhammad-Taqi Falsafi writes:

Ayatollah Borujerdi sent a message for me to convey the issue [of Baha’is] to the governmental authorities. … Eventually, after Ramadan 1332 [May 1953], he sent a letter for me to meet with the Shah and to express the Ayatollah’s disapproval and displeasure over the situation of [the relative freedom of] Baha’is. … Before Ramadan of 1333 [May 1954], I asked Ayatollah Borujerdi, ‘Are you supportive of the idea that I discuss the situation of Baha’is during my radio sermons which are broadcast live from Masjed Shah?’ He thought for a moment and then responded, ‘If you were to say so, it would be good. For now, the authorities are heedless (of suppression and annihilation of Baha’is). At least that would suppress them [Baha’is] in the field of public opinion.’

He added further, ‘It is necessary to mention this beforehand to the Shah so that he would not have an excuse later to intercede, ruin everything and terminate the radio broadcasts. If the latter were to happen, that would be most unfortunate for the Muslims and would embolden the Baha’is.’

I called the Shah’s office and requested an appointment. When I met the Shah, I stated, ‘Ayatollah Borujerdi has consented that the issue of Baha’is, which is a cause of worry for the Muslims, be dealt with and discussed in my radio sermons during the month of Ramadan. Would your majesty consent as well?’

Falsafi relates that the Shah remained silent for a moment and then stated, “Go and preach accordingly.” [5] From 1327 [1948], each Ramadan, Falsafi used to deliver sermons against the Tudeh Party. Elimination and annihilation of the Babis and Baha’is was the cherished desire of the mullas and their partners in the government. During those days, it was widely said that strikes against Baha’is and destruction of their administrative and religious centers was one of the government’s objectives. However, this had to wait until Ramadan 1334 [May 1955].

1955 Baha’i Persecution

In accordance with Ayatollah Borujirdi’s wishes, immediately after the 28 Mordad [coup], the attack on Baha’is started with Falsafi’s sermons delivered in Ramadan 1334 [1955]. He commenced a brutal attack on Baha’is and the government confiscated Baha’i properties in every city. In Tehran, in front of the cameras of both foreign and domestic reporters, General [Nader] Batmanghelich, the chief of staff of the Iranian army, along with [General] Taymour Bakhtiar, the military commander of Tehran, took pickaxes and demolished the dome of the Baha’i Center. For many years, that building was impounded by the military and used for its own command center. General Muhammad Ayarmalu, the deputy-chief of the most powerful branch of government, namely, the Department for Security and Information [SAVAK], writes the following in his memoirs:

One morning, General Batmanghelich, the chief of staff of the army, along with General Taymour Bakhtiar, the military commander, ascended the dome of the Baha’i Center [in Tehran] and with pickaxes started to demolish the dome of the building.

The next morning, the military attaché of the United States came to my office and with an infuriated voice stated, “What was this act that the chief of staff committed? Why would the chief of military pick up an ax, and before everyone’s eyes, demolish a building? Furthermore, he targeted a building that is greatly respected and cherished by many of your citizens! My country is assisting Iran to repair the ruins, and now you turn a beautiful building into a ruin?!”

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