Pure mercy

Gratitude towards those who stand up for what is right


Pure mercy
by Maryam Manteghi

The saints come to the rescue of this world when hearing from everywhere the moans of the oppressed. They run towards them like God's mercy. These fortresses against weakness, these doctors of hidden disease, Are pure love, pure justice, pure mercy; like God they are unstained and impregnable. - Jalaluddin Rumi


Today as on almost every day since seven Baha’is were arrested in Iran, I check for updated news on the situation. Someone has sent me the final list of the signatories of the open letter “We are ashamed” that was published by Iranian.com. An open letter that expressed remorse on behalf of its signatories, writers, intellectuals and human rights activists of Iranian background for the way the Baha’i community has historically been persecuted in Iran; Persecution that continues with the unlawful arrest, detention and alleged trial set for next week of seven Baha’is whose only guilt is their adherence to the Baha’i Faith.

As my eye scans down the list of signatories I feel a sense of gratitude and emotion welling up inside me for these people whom I have never met, whose faces I have never seen but who were good and brave enough to stand up for what is right, to defend their fellow Iranians, despite enormous pressures from systemic propaganda and deeply entrenched prejudices in Iranian society against the Baha’i Faith and its adherents. I thank these individuals deeply and salute their initiative, their courage and their convictions and for having the moral fortitude to express them publicly in this way.

As my eye scans further down the list, two names jump out of the page at me. Two names that I stare at and read over and over again trying to imagine who they are, what they look like and what they are thinking. Two names that cause me to stop breathing for just a second while my mind slowly takes in the information and gives it meaning, shaping it into one coherent thought: These two names are risking their lives. Two names, two people that not only signed the letter but threw in their lot with the Baha’is in Iran. While all the other names that signed the open letter are Iranians living in the West, these two names are Iranians living in Iran and their signatures mean that they are putting themselves, their families and their livelihoods at risk. Their signatures mean that they are willing to stand up for what is right at any cost. At every cost. And for that, I, as a Baha’i living in Toronto, as a human being living on this planet, who, while appalled at the plight of my co-religionists in Iran, risks nothing in expressing it, thanks them, prays for their protection and recognizes their sacrifice.

Standing up for what is right, or more importantly perhaps, standing up against what is wrong is and has always been the only thing that transforms hearts and minds and propels humanity forward. For it is exactly this action, right action, on a scale large or small, that sparks the light that is inherent in each one of us, the light that connects us no matter who we are and where we live. It is the same light that reminds us that we all come from the same place and end in the same place despite what happens in between. It is the same light that was sparked by Raoul Wallenberg, a wealthy Swedish diplomat who was captured and disappeared during the Second World War while handing out protective passes to Jews on death trains and death marches, saving 100 000 people. It is the same light that was sparked by 26 year-old Srdjan Aleksic, a Bosnian-Serb who was killed by nationalist hooligans in the Bosnian war when he jumped in front of, defended and saved the life of his best friend, a Bosnian-Muslim. It is this light that is sparked every time somebody, famous or unknown, educated or illiterate, black or white, woman or man, stands up for the truth no matter what the consequences.

I am convinced that, all over the world, there is a continuous chain of right action taking place. An unbroken link of unsung heroes that stand up, that sacrifice, that put themselves on the line because and only because it is the right thing to do. While the names of most of these individuals will never be known, the effect of their actions culminates in the glorious moments of great human triumph, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall and, most recently, the election of a black president in one of the last countries in the world to abolish slavery. It takes tens of thousands of individuals standing up for what is right to achieve such milestones. Individuals standing up against the darkness, who risk and even give their lives to light the way for humanity along its wobbly, tentative but inevitable march forward from the place of great Unknowing to the place of Righteousness and Truth.


Recently by Maryam ManteghiCommentsDate
Does Iran Have An Ana Mladic?
Nov 02, 2012
Will Egypt’s Muslim Sisterhood Please Stand Up?
Jun 26, 2012
I Am A Sarajevan
Apr 07, 2012
more from Maryam Manteghi


by Badie (not verified) on


Swift International Reaction to Pending Trials of Iran's Baha'is

by Nasser P (not verified) on

The Department of State condemned “the Iranian government’s decision to level baseless charges of espionage against seven leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community.” //www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/02/117332.ht...

1st Session
H. RES. 175
Condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights. (Introduced in House)

In London, Amnesty International issued an “urgent action” appeal on behalf of the seven, calling for their “immediate and unconditional release.”

In Canada, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler spoke in the House of Commons and expressed concern that the trial could lead to the death penalty for the seven Baha'is. He called the charges “trumped up.”

In Germany, Bundestag member Dr. Peter Ramsauer, leader of the Christian Social Union party, expressed “deep concern” over the fate of the seven. “Our minimum expectation for a fair trial is unconstrained access for the defense attorney, the Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, to her clients and to have a public trial,” he said.

“it is disappointing that the Iranian government is demonstrating that it will use any pretext, however baseless, to harass and detain those whose religious beliefs differ from those enforced by the state.”

“Due process, something to which Iran is committed as a signatory of the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is absent from this case,” commission Chair Felice D. Gaer said in the statement.

Freedom House published a condemnation of Iran over the possibility of a trial for the seven, saying: “The five men and two women should be released immediately, along with dozens of other Baha'is who are in prison for exercising their human right to religious freedom.”

The Institute for Religion and Public Policy called the charges “absurd.”

Baha'i World News Service
The life of Bahá’u’lláh:

Bahá’u’lláh's writings:

Bahá’u’lláh's teachings: //info.bahai.org/bahaullah-basic-teachings.ht...

About the Baha'i Faith:

Worldwide Baha'i Community Contact Information:

Historic Baha'i Conferences being held world wide:


Genocide Crimes Against Bahais in Iran

by Nameless (not verified) on

1. Arrests and detention, with imprisonment lasting for days, months, or years. In cases where the Baha’i is released, substantial bail is often required.

2. Direct intimidation and questioning by authorities, sometimes with the use of high-intensity lights and physical mistreatment.

3. Searches of homes and business, usually with Baha’i books and other items confiscated.

4. School expulsions and harassment of schoolchildren.

5. Prohibition on Baha’is attending universities.

6. Court proceedings where Baha’is are accused of promoting propaganda against the government “for the benefit of the Bahaist sect.”

7. Monitoring of the bank accounts, movement, and activities of Baha’is, including official questioning of Baha’is requiring them to give information about their lives, actions, neighbors, etc.

8. Denial or confiscation of business licenses.

9. Denial of work opportunities in general.

10. Denial of rightful inheritances to Baha’is.

11. Physical assaults, and efforts to drive Baha’is out of towns and villages.

12. Desecration and destruction of Baha’i cemeteries, and harassment over burial rights.

13. Dissemination, including in official news media, of misinformation about Baha’is, and incitement of hatred against Baha’is.

14. Evictions from places of business, including
Baha’i doctors from their offices and clinics.

15. Intimidation of Muslims who associate with Baha’is.

16. Attempts by authorities to get Baha’is to spy on other Baha’is.

17. Threatening phone calls and letters to Baha’is.

18. Denial of pension benefits.

19. Denial of access to publishing or copying facilities for Baha’i literature.

20. Confiscation of property.

21. Torture and death.


Biographies of the Imprisoned Bahá’í Leaders in Iran:

by Nasser-1 (not verified) on

1. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi
Fariba Kamalabadi, 45 years old, received her postgraduate degree in Education, specializing in Developmental Psychology. She is married with three children - two daughters (one a 13-year-old high school student, and one, married, 20 years old) and one son who was recently married and lives in China.

2. Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani
Jamaloddin Khanjani, a 76-year-old businessman, was the sales manager for Zamzam Company (a soft drink production company) and more recently he managed a brick factory. He is married with three children.

3. Mr. Afif Naemi
Afif Naemi, a 47-year-old industrialist, was expelled from medical school because of his membership in the Bahá’í Faith. He is married with two sons.

4. Mr. Saeid Rezaie
Saeid Rezaie, 50 years old, is a Farming Equipment Engineer. He had a successful business maintaining farming equipment in Shiraz and later he moved to Tehran. In addition to his regular profession, he is a scholar and author. He is married and has three children. Two of his daughters were among 54 Baha’i youth who were arrested in Shiraz in May 2006, while they were engaged in a humanitarian project aimed at helping underprivileged young people. Later they were released and tried.

5. Mrs. Mahvash Sabet
Mahvash Sabet, is a 56-year-old former teacher with a degree in educational planning. While she was working as a teacher she attended a training course for special education Corps, which sent recent graduates to remote areas in Iran to teach in schools. She was expelled from both her job and the training, because of being a Bahá’í. She is married and has two children.

6. Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli
Behrouz Tavakkoli, a 57-year- old lecturer, received a bachelor’s degree in social work and worked as a civil servant until he was expelled because of his belief in the Bahá’í Faith. He is married with two children.

7. Mr. Vahid Tizfahm
Vahid Tizfahm is a 37-year-old optometrist and owner of an optical shop. He received his degree in sociology and later trained as an optometrist. He was born in Tabriz (northwest of Iran) and lived there until mid-2007 when he moved to Tehran with his wife and 8-year-old son.


Adib Masumian

Baha'is as Israeli Spies and Zionist Agents

by Adib Masumian on

One of the government-fabricated accusations against the seven Baha'i leaders is that they are Israeli spies. These kinds of trumped up charges have been leveled against the Baha'is for years. However, no evidence has ever been presented to the public, for the obvious reason that none exists. The excerpt below is from the book I'm publishing next month that responds to these kinds of baseless allegations. The book is titled:

Debunking the Myths: Conspiracy Theories on the Genesis and Mission of the Baha'i Faith



Since the early days of the Islámic Revolution, Bahá'ís have been accused of espionage and treason, especially for Israel and Zionism, an international political movement that was formed to support the re-establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. Based on that pretext, many Bahá’ís of different ages and backgrounds have been arrested, kidnapped, tortured, assassinated, or executed.

However, labeling Bahá’ís as spies creates several issues for the accusers. First, they should point to a teaching, guidance, or instruction in the Bahá’í writings that instruct the followers to engage in espionage. Yet, no such materials can be found in Bahá'í scripture. Also, spies are expected to hide their true identities so they could continue to engage in espionage activities. If Bahá’ís were indeed spies, once arrested, they would be expected to deny their religious affiliation so they could continue their mission.

Yet, historical records of the past decades show that arrested Bahá’ís have overwhelmingly declared their religious affiliation, rather than engage in dissimulation (Taqiyyíh), an accepted Shí’ah practice to avert dangerous situations. There are also severe consequences for the individual to accept membership in the Bahá’í Faith. These range from loss of job, pension, property, and access to higher education, to long-term imprisonment, torture, or even death. Yet, arrested Bahá'ís have generally accepted these consequences, rather than deny their Faith.[1]

A common way in which spy claims against Bahá’ís are advanced is by pointing out that the most sacred shrines and holy places of the Bahá'ís are located in today’s Israel and that Iranian Bahá'ís send money to Israel to support their anti-Muslim activities.[2] Bahá'ís counter that there are numerous holy Muslim and Christian sites in the state of Israel, too. Yet, the existence of these sites does not suggest that Muslims and Christians are agents of Israel or international Zionism.

Regarding the location of the Bahá'í sites in Israel, what is overlooked or easily dismissed is the fact that the establishment of Bahá'í shrines in today’s Israel were brought about by the forced exiles of Bahá'u'lláh via edicts from two Muslim rulers. First, in 1853, Bahá'u'lláh was banished from Persia by Násiri’d-Dín Sháh to Baghdád in the Ottoman Empire. Ten years later, Násiri’d-Dín Sháh who was afraid of Bahá'u'lláh’s growing influence near the Persian border, asked Sultan ‘Abdu’l-’Azíz – the Ottoman Emperor – to send Bahá'u'lláh to territories further away from Persia. The Emperor first invited Bahá'u'lláh to Istanbul and then, within four months, exiled him to Adrianople (Edirne) in 1863 and then `Akká (Acre) in 1868. At the time, `Akká was in fact part of the Palestinian region of Syria. Bahá'u'lláh eventually died in `Akká on May 29, 1892.

Following his death, Bahá'u'lláh's son `Abdu’l-Bahá took over the leadership of the religion until his passing in 1921. He was buried in Haifá, in what was then Palestine. Another important figure for Bahá'ís who is buried in current-day Israel is the Báb whose remains were secretly transferred to Palestine and buried in Haifá in 1909. Israel was not formed until 1948, almost 60 years after Bahá'u'lláh's passing, 39 years after the Báb's remains were brought to the region, and 27 years after `Abdu’l-Bahá's death. Thus, the accusation that ties Bahá'ís to the state of Israel based on the location of their shrines disregards the historical circumstances that led to the construction of those holy places in what was then the Palestinian region of Syria.

It is true that Bahá'ís from Iran (and in fact all parts of the world) send contributions to their international headquarters in Haifá, Israel. However, these contributions are not sent to sponsor anti-Muslim activities but rather for the maintenance and upkeep of the Bahá'í shrines and historical sites as well as for attending to the administrative affairs of their global community.[3] Incidentally, while Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious organizations receive regular financial assistance from the state of Israel for the maintenance and upkeep of their holy sites, the Bahá’ís cannot (by principle) and do not accept contributions from any non-Bahá’í entity for their projects or activities. That includes funds from the state of Israel for the upkeep of their holy sites in that country.

Despite this, in 1983, the Islámic government of Iran ordered all the Bahá'í administrative bodies in the country to disband. As Bahá’ís are bound to obey the governments of the lands in which they reside, the Iranian National Spiritual Assembly obliged with the government’s order. However, they also wrote an open letter on the occasion to share the Bahá'í position on the government’s decision and the accusations made against their community. One of the issues addressed in that letter was the often cited accusation of espionage for Israel, which the Iranian government has repeatedly suggested without ever producing any evidence to support the claim:


The honourable Prosecutor has again introduced the baseless and fictitious story that Bahá'ís engage in espionage, but without producing so much as one document in support of the accusation, without presenting proof in any form, and without any explanation as to what is the mission in this country of this extraordinary number of "spies": what sort of information do they obtain and from what sources? Whither do they relay it, and for what purpose? What kind of "spy" is an eighty-five-year-old man from Yazd who has never set foot outside his village? Why do these alleged spies not hide themselves, conceal their religious beliefs and exert every effort to penetrate, by every stratagem, the Government's information centres and offices?

Why has no Bahá'í "spy" been arrested anywhere else in the world? How could students, housewives, innocent young girls, and old men and women, like those blameless Bahá'ís who have recently been delivered to the gallows in Iran, or who have become targets for the darts of prejudice and enmity, be "spies"? How could the Bahá'í farmers of the villages of Afús, Chigan, Qal’ih Malik (near Isfahan), and those of the village of Núk in Birjand, be "spies"? What Secret Intelligence documents have been found in their possession? What espionage equipment has come to hand? What "spying" activities were engaged in by the primary schoolchildren who have been expelled from their schools?[4]




[1] Náder Sa‘eidí, The Accusation that Bahá’ís are Spies, Iranemrooz;


[2] H.E. Chehabi (2008), “Anatomy of Prejudice”, in Brookshaw; Fazel, Seena B., The Baha'is of Iran: Socio-historical studies, New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 190-194.


[3] Eliz Sanasarian (2000), Religious Minorities in Iran, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 119.

[4] Bahá’í International Community Website, An Open Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran about the Banning of the Bahá'í Administration, Sept. 3, 1981; //info.bahai.org/article-1-8-3-19.html


The Trial of The Seven Baha'i Leaders Begins Today

by bmasumian on

Speaking of the seven Baha'i leaders, news coming out of Iran indicates that their trial has either already begun is about to begin. The group which includes two women has been in “temporary” custody for about nine months. The official charges against them are:
1. Espionage for the state of Israel
2. Activities against the Islamic regime
3. Insulting Islamic sanctities

More than likely, the trial will be conducted behind closed doors so neutral observers could not watch the Iranian judicial system make a mockery of justice. Ironically, the cost of taking the Bahá’í leaders through a sham trial will be quite high for the government. Global coverage of the news around the persecution of the Bahá’ís has been on a steady rise in the past few years. In the process, increasing numbers of Iranian groups and media outlets have risen to the defense of Iran’s largest religious minority. The highly publicized open letter of apology recently issued by a group of Iranian professionals that included human rights activists, poets, intellectuals, musicians, actors, university professors, and others was a clear indication of the increasing cost the regime will have to incur if it continues to disregard public opinion and carry on repressive measures against the Bahá’ís. As Maryam indicated above, the list even included two names from inside Iran. This opens a new chapter in public support for the rights of Baha'is from inside Iran. Previously, certain members of the clerical establishment such as Ayaltu'llah Montazeri as well as Iranian Muslim student associations and university professors such as Hashem Aghajari had voiced concern over the situation of the Bahá’ís.

While the likely scenario of a closed-door trial for the Bahá’í leaders has its cost, the alternative would have come at a much higher cost: Allowing the internationally known and respected Noble Laureate, Shirin Ebadi publicly grill the Islamic Revolutionary Court and go against an Islamic judge who has little or no experience in contemporary legal proceedings and, thus, prove no match for Ebadi’s expert defense. 

To no one's surprise, all the three charges against the Baha'i leaders are trumped up. Nonetheless, the espionage charge is by far the most serious one. According to the Islamic penal codes, spying for a foreign country is considered treason and could carry the death penalty. In fact, a few months ago, an Iranian Jewish merchant was executed in Iran on the same charge.

Since 1979, numerous Iranian Baha’is, young and old, men and women have been accused of espionage for Israel. Yet, in none of the cases, has the government produced a shred of evidence. For instance, in the 1980s, they never bothered to explain to an inquiring public what kind of "spy" was an eighty-five-year-old man like ‘Abdu’l-Vahab Kazemi of Yazd who had never set foot outside his village? Or, what kinds of espionage activities were the 17-year old Mona Mahmood-Nejad and nine other Bahá’í women from Shiraz had committed for which they were eventually hanged, despite international appeals to save their lives? Mona’s real “crime” was teaching ethics to Bahá’í children in Sunday schools. The same preposterous charges of espionage for Israel was also leveled against Bahá'í farmers of the villages of Afús, Chigan, Qal’ih Malik (near Isfahan), and those of the village of Núk in Birjand. The outlandish nature of these accusations must baffle the mind of any neutral observer. 

Nonetheless, times have changed. In the 1980s, when many of these crimes were committed against a defenseless community, there was no internet and no social networking sites. Thus, the infrastructure for grassroots movements was not nearly as robust as it is today. Therefore, while the Islamic Republic could come out of those unjustified killings relatively unscathed, it is now becoming virtually impossible for them to continue the practice and escape serious international backlash.  Every time a Bahá’í is arrested, the news becomes global within hours. Thousands of concerned citizens from all walks of life in different corners of the earth stand up and demand justice on a variety of forums. This site is a good example. Thus, gradually, the cost of administering injustice will soon become prohibitive for the government.

The Baha'i "question" has been an enigma for the clerics since the 1840s. The Islamic Revolution finally made it possible for the ecclesiastics to begin pondering a "final solution." When their campaign of genocide against Baha'is proved unworkable in a conscious, connected world, the official policy changed to marginalizing the Baha'is by depriving them of educational opportunities and a decent living. They also planned to begin “fighting the cultural influence of the Baha'is” both inside and outside Iran, In effect, though, these plans have proved futile. The mullahs began their anti-Bábí, anti-Bahá’í activities over 160 years ago.  One wonders if the most brutal and inhuman massacres of a relatively small population of Bábís and Bahá’ís across Persia in the 1800s and early 1900s could not “solve the Baha'i dilemma” where does the optimism to wipe out a now global community of 5-6 million people come from?
There is now hope that the imminent trial of Bahá’í leaders may prove to be the tipping point in this losing battle. The Islamic government of Iran may finally realize that public awareness of the situation of the Bahá’ís both inside and outside Iran is reaching the boiling point. The government may now be at a point where they must either release these individuals or produce credible evidence against them. Forging documents or fabricating evidence against others hsa proved a relatively easy undertaking inside Iran. Therefore, the litmus test for the government's sincereity is to allow any potential evidence against Bahá’í leaders to be examined by an impartial court of law.The Baha'is will gladly submit to this; but it is highly unlikely that the Iranian government would do the same.
A final word about the "Apology" letter. As an Iranian Baha'i, I am truly grateful and encouraged to see well-known Iranians from all walks of life stand up for the rights of their Baha'i brothers and sisters; from notable human rights activists such as Ahmad Batebi, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Parastoo Forouhar, Efat Mahbaz, and Soheila vahdati, to political activists or analysts such as Reza Fani Yazdi, Abdolsatar Duschouki, Bijan Hekmat, Parviz Dastmalchi, and Nima Rashedan, to intellectuals university professors such as Drs. Houshang Chehabi, Bahram Choubine, Ramin Ahmadi, and Mehrdad Darvishpoor, great poets and writers including Esmai’l Khoi, Vida Farhoudi, and Babak Parham, to the most well-known Iranian satirist Hadi Khorsandi. Special thanks must go to Niloofar Beyzaie and Khosro Shemiranie who conceived the idea and started the campaign.

Bahá’ís hope that other Iranians in diaspora and inside the country will join these brave souls in demanding justice for a long-suffering community. There is no better time than NOW when the lives of seven innocent people are in imminent danger, on fabricated charges.

Bijan Masumian


Thank you, Maryam

by Ali Najafi (not verified) on

Thank you, Maryam. Your article was beautiful to read. You appeal to the nobility and higher nature in all of us.

I am also thankful to the many people that have stood-up for Baha'i rights. These individuals demonstrate the same heroism of countless others that put themselves at risk for speaking against injustice.

In these darkest hours for the Baha'is in Iran, I thank those many others that are yet to stand-up, but will choose to do so in the coming days or weeks.

As Iranians, and more importantly as human beings, we have the opportunity to tell our representatives, neighbors, and friends to join us to speak-out against the oppression that the Baha'is are facing. Hopefully, our voices will be strong enough so as to save the lives of the 7 Baha'is in Iran that will be put to an unjust trial next week.

If these 7 Baha'is are executed, we will know that we stood-up and the moral courage that we demonstrated will inspire others and make this world a more aware and just place.