Tag Archives: Roxana Saberi

Dear Newsweek magazine: Everything You Think You Know about Iran is Incomplete

Mr. Sourpuss

Mr. Sourpuss

On the cover of the latest issue of Newsweek magazine, I was faced with a sullen Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the provocative title, “Everything You Think You Know About Iran is Wrong.” Excited to think that I might discover something new about Iran in this issue, my excitement diminished after reading the same old story again: that the Iranian people are good but misunderstood; that the government is bad, but not as bad as you think, and no, it’s not a dictatoship. This might seem familiar if you followed this blogs’s reporting about Roger Cohen’s articles in the New York times earlier in the year.

So I decided to make a comment to Fareed Zakaria’s article:

“Posted By: alyosha19 @ 06/03/2009 1:54:12 AM

Newsweek should rename this article, ‘Everything You Think You Know About Iran is Incomplete.’ Especially given the fact that the most underreported large story in the West about Iran is the ongoing, unforgiving repression of the Baha’i community there.

Journalist Roxana Saberi may have drawn a lot of attention when she was recently freed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison after a 3 month stay, however some 30 Baha’is remain incarcerated there for over a year, under false pretenses, with no due process and no access to their lawyer, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Currently the imprisoned 7 member Baha’i leadership in Iran may be facing the death penalty soon, for the crime of simply being Baha’i. Perhaps because these Baha’is were neither American nor journalists is one reason why the Western media avoided covering this story widely.

However the facts behind why the Baha’is are being imprisoned are very important for Westerners to understand — the community’s mere presence in Iran (the largest religious minority, with over 300,000 members, much larger than the Christian and Jewish populations) can be perceived as a threat to the Iranian status quo.

So what do Baha’is believe in that is so threatening to the Iranian leadership?

–the Baha’i Faith believes in the unity of all the world’s major religions as one common faith from God, from Judaism and Hinduism up through Islam and beyond.

–Baha’is reject any clergy and they participate in an elected, spiritual democracy that shuns any form of campaigning or electioneering.

–Baha’is also believe in world peace, the equality of women and men, the harmony of science and religion, the independent investigation of truth, among some of the more famous principles.

–To boot, Baha’is also are to remain obedient to their government, no matter how bad, how corrupt, and even if they throw them in prison. Nice guys seem to finish last.

All of the above principles seemingly conflict with current designs of the Iranian government. And these principles are very appealing to a disillusioned Iranian public–which in turn has led to the severe crackdown on the practice of the Baha’i Faith in Iran.

To imagine that these principles originated in Iran in the mid-19th century, well before they were accepted in the West, may be surprising to Westerners, who may view the Middle East as “backwards” or not progressive. It’s also interesting to note how in the current reporting about all the posturing and threats of war between the East and West, that the Baha’i message–which could arguably illumine the discussion between the two sides–is being silenced amidst the noise.”

If you would have written a better reply, this blog would be grateful to hear about it!


Freed journalist Roxana Saberi mentions meeting Baha’is while in Evin Prison, Tehran

From our friend, On the Chopping Blog:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Journalist Roxana Saberi may be free today, but the 7 Iranian Baha’i leaders are still in jail

[Update: 05/14/09 – CNN Story today]

roxana_saberiAlthough this blog is happy that journalist Roxana Saberi has been freed, it has some sobering news to remind you:

Today, May 14th, marks the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of seven Baha’i leaders in Iran, who have spent a year in jail without formal charges or access to their lawyer, Shirin Ebadi.  The families of the prisoners were recently informed that a new accusation has been lodged against them by the Iranian government, the charge of “spreading corruption on earth,” which carries the threat of death under Iran’s penal code.

Local Bahá’ís are also writing to their members of Congress, and urging other to do the same, to gather additional cosponsors for two resolutions, H.Res 175 and S.Res.71, currently before the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate respectively, which call for the release of the Iranian Baha’i leaders and other Bahá’í prisoners

Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, said on May 12 that “despite their obvious innocence and the call by many for their immediate release, these seven men and women have been in legal limbo for a year now, against all international human rights standards.”

Ms. Dugal also noted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has frequently emphasized the importance of “justice and human dignity” and “the establishment of a just world system,” such as when he addressed the UN Durban Review Conference in Geneva last month.

“How can the calls of the Iranian leadership for justice in the international sphere be taken seriously if they do not grant justice to their own citizens? In Iran, by all accounts universally agreed upon human rights are routinely ignored, not only for Baha’is but also for women, journalists, and others who only seek dignity and justice,” she said.

7 Imprisoned Baha'i Leaders in Iran

7 Imprisoned Baha'i Leaders in Iran

The seven are Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm. All but one of the group were arrested on May 14, 2008 at their homes in Tehran. Mrs. Sabet was arrested on March 5, 2008 while in Mashhad. Read more about them.

The prosecution of the leaders is just one step in a 30-year-long systematic campaign orchestrated by the government to eliminate the Baha’i community as a viable entity in Iran, the birthplace of the Baha’i Faith.

The Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent monotheistic religions and one of the fastest-growing, with a significant presence throughout the United States. Baha’is view the world’s major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity. Major Baha’i tenets include the oneness of humanity, equality of men and women, eradication of prejudice, harmony of science and religion, universal education and world peace.

Updates and background on the situation of the Baha’is in Iran are posted at http://iran.bahai.us.  To learn more about the Baha’i Faith in America, check www.bahai.us and the Religion Newswriters Association Source Guide on the Baha’i Faith at http://www.religionlink.com/tip_090211.php