Archive for May, 2009

wendi

Breathing while Baha’i

. . . be so faithful and sincere in all your actions that every member may be known as embodying the qualities of honesty, love, faith, kindness, generosity, and courage . . . be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath . . . Bahai writings

Free the Evin Seven!

You may have heard of the phrase `Driving While Black’, a word play on the offence of driving while intoxicated. Coined in the United States, it refers to the racial profiling allegedly used by the police who, it is said, will stop, question, search and charge a driver just because he or she is black. Such is the legacy of racism in America.

Free the Evin Seven!

Baha’is in Iran know exactly what this is like. Arbitrary arrests, houses looted, books destroyed, children taunted at school by their own teachers, older students denied access to training and higher education – such have the Baha’is endured since the resurgence of persecution against the community in recent years.

Free the Evin Seven!

If you are breathing and Baha’i in Iran, then you are likely to find yourself charged with what I will call `breathing while Baha’i’. By definition, your very being makes you illegal, a `danger to national security’. Iran’s Prosecutor General, Ayatollah Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi, has stated that the very expression of affiliation to the Baha’i Faith is illegal. A Baha’i is, by definition, dangerous. A Baha’i who expresses anything about his or her beliefs – even practising them – is a criminal. Such is the legacy of `racism’ in Iran.

Free the Evin Seven!

It is not hard to see, then, that a Baha’i who puts into practice the teachings of Baha’u’llah on serving humanity, treating women and men equally, honesty, trustworthiness and so on is likely to find himself or herself in prison. Such a dangerous person cannot be trusted to have legal counsel (Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi) – in fact, good idea to lock up the legal adviser too! – and there is no need to charge a Baha’i with anything as just being a Baha’i already condemns him.

Free the Evin Seven!

So it is no wonder that seven prominent Iranian Baha’is are today commemorating their first year in prison. There really is no way to avoid such a fate if you insist on breathing while Baha’i. Charges have yet to be laid upon the seven but they are accused by Dorri-Najafabadi of  `espionage for Israel’ and `insulting religious sanctities’. And now the Baha’i International Community is reporting that they will be charged with `spreading corruption on earth’. (Read more about this here.)

Free the Evin Seven!

Now, you might think that such a concept is a little odd. If you look at the teachings of Baha’u’llah and look at Baha’is and then compare them with the people who traffic in drugs, people, weapons and pornography — or even with some politicians —  it is very difficult to see how Baha’is could ever be considered people who spread corruption. But then you discover that this catch-all phrase is used for a whole host of  `criminals’ and particularly those with whom the Iranian leadership has a fundamental theological disagreement. Ah, there you have it! They fundamentally disagree with the Baha’is.

Free the Evin Seven!

Unfortunately, being convicted of the crime of  `spreading corruption on earth’ can lead to execution. We pray this is not the fate of the seven leaders wasting away in Evin Prison in Tehran.

Free the Evin Seven!

You can see that breathing while Baha’i can be very dangerous – but then, I like to live dangerously, what about you?

Free the Evin Seven!

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