Iran ramps up harassment of Baha’i religious minority

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Iranian security forces have arrested several members of the Baha’i religious community, considered heretics by the clerical government, and searched more than 20 homes.

Fariba Kamalabadi, Mahvash Sabet (Shahriari) and Afif Naimi, three former heads of Iran’s Baha’i community known as “Yaran,” were among those arrested in Tehran and Karaj on Sunday, July 31. The three had previously been arrested in 2018 and spent 10 years behind bars.

Several arrests were also reported from the towns of Sari in the northern province of Mazandaran and Qazvin near the capital.

The global Baha’i community said in a July 20 statement that Tehran had intensified its activities systematic campaign to repress the religious minority also in the last few weeks arrest, subpoena, indictment, or closure of business by at least 20 Baha’i citizens in July alone.

According to the community, at least 44 Baha’i were arrested, summoned to appear in court, tried, sentenced to prison or had their homes ransacked in June.

The 1979 constitution of the Islamic Republic recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has repeatedly labeled the Baha’i faith a cult and issued a religious fatwa in 2018 banning all contact, including business dealings, with adherents of the faith.

Baha’i, who number about 300,000 in Iran, say their rights are systematically violated and they are often harassed, forced to leave their homes and businesses, and denied government jobs and university education.

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