Uma pergunta para o leitor: em que país se radicou uma religião originária do Irão onde é severamente perseguida?
Amplify’d from pajamasmedia.com
Amplify’d from pajamasmedia.com
Iran’s most repressed religious minority is also its largest. Members of the community are routinely imprisoned, frequently executed, banned from universities, and ruthlessly repressed economically. Tens of thousands have been murdered by one regime after another. The current government—the Khomeinist “Islamic Republic”—goes farther than any other by vowing to crush these people wherever they live and erase them from the face of the earth.
There are only six or seven million in the entire world, and their spiritual home is in Israel. I am not, however, referring here to the Jews, but to the Bahais.
Their world headquarters is in Israel, and they came during Ottoman times from Persian lands. The nation-state of one of the world’s oldest religions now hosts the holiest site of one of the newest, and the nation where the Bahai Faith was born vows to destroy the nation where the Bahai Faith had to migrate.
The strikingly different treatments of these people by Iran and by Israel infuses the looming showdown between the Middle East’s two most powerful countries with even more moral clarity than it already had.
The Bahai gardens in Haifa, Israel
The U.S. State Department rates Iran one of the worst violators of religious freedom in the world, particularly for its repression against the Bahais. “Bahai religious groups reported arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention,” says its most recent annual report, “expulsions from universities, and confiscation of property. During the reporting period government-controlled broadcast and print media intensified negative campaigns against religious minorities, particularly the Bahais.” Even the United National General Assembly recently condemned the Iranian government on similar grounds.
Around 300,000 Bahais are still in Iran, ten times the number of Christians and Jews there. Two million or so live in India. There are many more in South America and Africa. Only 150,000 or so live in the U.S., but the faith has been growing in Eastern Europe since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Most worship in their houses, but there are community centers in places where enough Bahais are concentrated. There’s a house of worship on each continent. North America’s is in Chicago. South America’s is in Chile. Asia’s is in Delhi.
The Bahai house of worship in Chicago, Illinois
In 1844 a young man named Mirza Ali Muhammad, a merchant in the city of the Iranian city of Shiraz, said he was the herald of a new revelation from God. He announced the coming of the new great teacher.
“He called himself the Báb,” Weinberg said, “which means ‘the gate’ in Arabic, and his teachings began to spread throughout Persia. Thousands upon thousands of people responded and were very attracted to the teaching. He said a new day had come, a day when religions would become united, when people would recognize their oneness, when the equality of men and women would be established.”
One of his first followers was a poet who removed her veil in public, something unheard of in that day, though it was perfectly normal before the Khomeinists took over in 1979. “There were reports of a man cutting his throat,” Weinberg said, “because he was so shocked at the audacity of this act.”
This new religion alarmed the authorities as it spread. Shia Muslims were abandoning Islam and becoming Bábis, followers of the Báb. Pogroms followed, and 20,000 were executed, many in horrible ways. They were executed not because they were criminals, nor for political reasons. They were executed because they were heretics. The Báb himself was publicly executed in 1850 in Tabriz.
Tabriz is an Azeri city. In Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan—the now-sovereign Azeri land detached long ago from the Persian Empire by Czarist Russia—is a statue of a liberated woman discarding her veil. It was erected almost a century ago, and the liberation has held.
Read more at pajamasmedia.comThe statue of the liberated woman, Baku, Azerbaijan
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