This week the Baha’is around the world are celebrating the Festival of Ridvan, the holiest time of the Baha’i year. Running from April 12 to May 2, (Jalal 13- Jamal 5 in the Baha’i calendar), it commemorates the time that Baha’u’llah, founder of the tradition, spent in a garden near Baghdad in 1863, where he first disclosed his identity as the Promised One. The garden became known as the Garden of Paradise (Ridvan), and the first, ninth, and twelfth days of Ridvan are particularly holy.
Baha’is are presently being persecuted in Iran, where repression of the religious tradition is governmental policy. At approximately 300,000 adherents, Baha’i is the largest minority tradition in Iran. Baha’is in Iran have no legal rights, and they are not permitted to elect leaders of their community.They are systematically denied jobs, pensions and the right to inherit property. More than 10,000 Baha’is have been dismissed from government and university posts since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
Seven Baha’i leaders have been imprisoned in Iran for over a year. In February, they were to be called into court on charges of “espionage.” They are also accused of insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic State. Governments and NGOs around the world have condemned Iran’s treatment of this religious minority.
This year, on the first of Ridvan, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Great Britain highlighted that persecution in a special message addressed to Baha’i communities in that country. Brown stated: “The principles of the Bahá’í Faith are rightly shared and appreciated by many in our different communities. It is therefore all the more tragic that Bahá’ís around the world face prejudice and discrimination.” He noted that Great Britain had spoken out on behalf of the seven leaders, insisting on a fair trial and the end of prejudice in Iran.
There are currently two resolutions under consideration in Congress: House Resolution 175 and Senate Resolution 71, which condemn Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, call upon Iran to release the seven leaders, and instruct the President and Secretary of State likewise to condemn the discrimination against Baha’is. Information about these resolutions can be found on the “Persecution of Baha’is in Iran” website.
- PM describes prejudice and discrimination against Baha’is as “tragic”
Baha’i News UK
- Persecution of Baha’is in Iran
- Official Website of the Baha’is in the US