Baha’i Persecution in Iran Documented in U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Religious Freedom Report

The International Religious Freedom Report for 2011, released by the U.S. State Department, on July 30, 2012, continues to detail a “threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shia religious groups, most Muslims, evangelical Christians, Jews, and Shia groups that did not share the government’s official religious views.”

The report goes on to discuss “government-controlled broad campaigns against religious minorities, particularly Baha’is.”

During 2011 the following statistics emerged:

–       At least 60 Baha’is were arrested.
–       Some were released after paying large fines or posting a high bail.
–       At least some 95 Baha’is were in jail.
–       Some 416 Baha’i cases were active.
–       Some 30 Baha’is were barred or expelled from universities.
–       In May 2011 the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education was reportedly declared illegal.
–       Baha’is are denied

        • social pensions
        • leadership positions in the government and military
        • compensation for injury or crimes committed against them
        • the right to inherit property
        • the right to assemble officially

 –       Baha’is cannot have their marriages and divorces recognized officially.

In addition, Baha’is have been targeted by acts of arson and warned not to befriend Muslims. Baha’i children are harassed in school and subjected to Islamic indoctrination.

When the Report was released, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton placed religious freedom in this context:

Religious freedom is not just about religion. It’s not just about the right of Roman Catholics to organize a mass, or Muslims to hold a religious funeral, or Baha’is to meet in each others’ homes for prayer, or Jews to celebrate High Holy Days together—as important as those rituals are. Religious freedom is also about the right of people to think what they want, say what they think, and come together in fellowship without the state looking over their shoulder.