Threatening anti-Baha'i posters distributed in Yazd, Iran18 June 2014
GENEVA — A highly inflammatory and threatening flier calling Baha'is "godless" was distributed in the city of Yazd, Iran, last week on the eve of an important Shiite holy day.
The anonymously authored leaflet was posted on walls and also placed on the homes and cars of Baha'is, said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.
"The distribution of this poster was obviously timed to inflame religious passions against Baha'is, who are a minority in Yazd and throughout Iran," said Ms. Ala'i. "The basic message of the poster is that it is a religious duty to attack Baha'is and to destroy their properties.
"The targeting of Baha'i homes and vehicles is also equally ominous, sending a message: 'We know who and where you are,'" she added.
The distribution of the flier in this mid-sized central Iranian city came on 12 June 2014, on the eve of Shabe-barat [the "night of deliverance"], which honors the birth of Imam Mahdi and is an important holy day for Shiite Muslims.
Translation of flier: "Bahaism is a movement that has risen against the true religion of Islam; from the perspective of the sacred Sharia, it is an [apostasy] and… »
An example of graffiti on a gate to a residence in Yazd, Iran. The text reads: "Death to Baha'i". (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Activists News Agency)
The flier claims that according to Sharia law, the "blood" of Baha'is "is worthless," and that "every Muslim individual must stand up against any activity by this movement and combat them even at the cost of his own life."
A similar version of the poster had been delivered to at least five Baha'i homes in Yazd last January. That flier was signed by "Hizbu'llah" (the Party of God).
Ms. Ala'i said it was the government's duty to denounce such acts publically and to find and prosecute the perpetrators of such hateful messages, and to protect Baha'is as citizens of Iran.
"Unfortunately, the government has for too long allowed the perpetrators of such attacks to act with impunity. In recent years, there have been literally hundreds of attacks or threats against Baha'is and their properties, and no one has been prosecuted for such actions," she said.
Ms. Ala'i noted, for example, that three Baha'is were attacked in their home in Birjand in January by an anonymous intruder wielding a knife and that a Baha'i was shot and killed in Bandar Abbas last August. There have also been a number of incidents of the desecration of Baha'i cemeteries in recent months, such as efforts by the Revolutionary Guard to destroy an historic Baha'i cemetery in Shiraz.
"Unfortunately, the government has too often been a willing participant in the circulation of hate material against Baha'is. Top officials and government media outlets regularly spew anti-Baha'i propaganda – and the volume of such items has in fact increased dramatically this year," said Ms. Ala'i.
In January, said Ms. Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community had catalogued at least 55 anti-Baha'i articles on Iranian websites. That rose to 72 in February, 93 in March, 285 in April, and 366 in May.
"The government has created an atmosphere where those who harbor hatred against Baha'is can act with complete impunity," said Ms. Ala'i. "And without fear of prosecution, we are gravely concerned that life-threatening attacks against Baha'is are all too likely to continue."