This limitless universe is like the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength. How much the organs, the members and the parts of the body of man are intermingled and connected for mutual aid and help, and how much they influence one another! In the same way, the parts of this infinite universe have their members and elements connected with one another, and influence one another spiritually and materially. – Abdu’l-Baha
Ever since small boats could sail beyond the horizon, each person who has journeyed to a new home has a unique story, with their own motivation for leaving the home of their ancestors and for starting out as a foreigner in a new land. There is sometimes a push: famine or war. There is sometimes a pull: freedom or economic stability. For Baha’is, the strongest reason for their exodus from Iran over the past fifty years is religious persecution. Continue reading
A few days ago in Los Angeles, USA, I had the pleasure of attending the world premiere of an exciting new documentary film called “Changing the World One Wall at a Time”. The film is about one of the world’s largest street art campaigns held over the last year to raise awareness for the thousands of young Baha’is who are barred from higher education in Iran because of their beliefs.
The campaign was called “Education Is Not A Crime“, and it was initiated by Maziar Bahari, an Iranian Canadian journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist, who although not a Baha’i himself, feels that the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran (Iran’s largest religious minority) is emblematic of many of the problems Iran faces. Continue reading
It is impossible for me to imagine what it would feel like to be wrongfully imprisoned for nine years. Nine years is such a long time. In that time period, all of my nephews and nieces have been born, friends and family members have passed away, and loved ones have achieved major milestones like completing their educations, winning artistic prizes, and changing careers. Nine years is a long time to miss out on a life that is rightfully yours. Nine years is a long time not to be able to hold a newly-born loved one in your arms, to offer a shoulder of strength during a time of grief, or to watch a child blow out their birthday cake candles.
It is with heavy hearts that on May 14, we mark the 9th anniversary of the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of the seven Baha’i leaders of Iran (known as the Yaran, which means “the Friends”). These seven Baha’is made up the entire membership of the now-disbanded ad hoc group tending to the spiritual and social needs of the Iranian Baha’i community (in the absence of formally elected Baha’i leadership which was banned in 1983), and they were arrested and have been imprisoned since 2008 for nothing more than being Baha’is. Currently, about 90 Baha’is are also imprisoned for their beliefs.
We all can lend a voice in helping to end this injustice and to bring attention to the plight of the Baha’is in Iran and those who suffer human rights violations. In observance of the ninth anniversary of the Baha’i leaders’ incarceration, the Baha’i International Community is launching a global campaign in which we can all participate. Continue reading