Louisville is a city of immigrants, the tragedies of the Bahá'í community affect us deeply

  • In World
  • 2022-08-19 09:16:14Z
  • By The Courier Journal

The story is not new. We see it happening time after time. We see it in America, where the rights of some people are disregarded by those who wield more power. We see it in Ukraine, where the Russian armies slaughter those whose ideologies differ from the people of the land. We see it in Afghanistan, where the rights of women are reduced to that of property once again.

What few Americans see is the plight of Bahá'ís in Iran. With so much tragedy occurring all around us, what difference could a pogrom designed to eliminate the largest minority religion in Iran mean to us?

A city of immigrants

Louisville is a city of immigrants, both old and new. Because of this, we are learning that the world is our community and that our city represents many different places and cultures. When we look at the tragedies in far-off places, we must recognize that many people living in Louisville are deeply affected as well.

The local Bahá'ís are devastated with the latest news of the escalating persecution of their family members, friends and former classmates who are being subjected to the harsh conditions of being a member of the Bahá'í Faith in Iran.

This is a human rights issue. The Iranian government has signed on to the International Covenants on Human Rights, and we must hold accountable those whose stated mission is to exterminate this peaceful community of believers in God.

The Iranian government has, since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, conducted a state-sponsored campaign to eliminate the Bahá'í community, falsely believing that it poses a threat to Islam. The government has fired Bahá'ís from state jobs and barred students from higher education. It has shut down businesses and denied Bahá'ís their livelihood. It has imprisoned Bahá'ís who have worked for the betterment of Iranian society through medicine, industry and education. In return for their work, these individuals have been charged with being spies for Israel (the Bahá'í World Center is in Haifa) and enemies of Islamic society.

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Recently more Bahá'ís were arrested and charged with "propagating the teachings of the fabricated Bahá'í colonialism and infiltrating educational environments" including kindergartens. The mention of kindergartens seems to target a number of Bahá'ís who are preschool teachers. In July, Bahá'ís were charged with collusion "for the purpose of causing intellectual and ideological insecurity in Muslim society." The charges are ludicrous.

In early August, news arrived that 200 Iranian government and local agents had sealed off a village in Mazandaran province inhabited by a large number of Baháʼís and had used heavy equipment to demolish their homes. Roads into and out of the village were blocked.

Many of us are familiar with the "First they came . . ." quote from Martin Niemöller, a German Lutheran pastor who regretted his complicity through silence in not protesting Hitler's campaign of genocide. Let us not have regrets because we ignored the Iranian government's campaign against the Bahá'ís.

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We implore you to join us in prayer for the well-being of these defenseless souls. We ask that you also pray for the agony that the Louisville Bahá'í community is experiencing, knowing of the tribulations of the friends in Iran. And please - contact your Senators and Representative and ask that they co-sponsor Senate Resolution 183 (S.Res.183) and House Resolution 744 (H.Res.744) "condemning the Government of Iran's state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá'í minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights." International voices do have influence.

Nancy D. Harris is the Public Information Officer for the Bahá'ís of Louisville. She can be reached at lsa@louisvillebahai.org. Stories of the ongoing persecutions can be found at https://news.bahai.org/

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: The tragedies of Bahá'í community affect Louisville deeply: Opinion


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