“An extraordinary wave of support”: Calls in unison for Iran to end persecution of Bahá’ís
BIC GENEVA — Leading Muslims, government officials, and parliamentarians around the world have joined a growing outcry at the unjust confiscation of properties owned by Bahá’ís in the Iranian farming village of Ivel. The ruling to allow Iranian authorities to confiscate the properties, clearly motivated by religious prejudice, was recently upheld in an appeals court and has left dozens of families internally displaced and economically impoverished.
The American Islamic Congress, the Canadian Council of Imams, Chair of the Virtues Ethics Foundation and one of the leading Islamic scholars in the United Kingdom Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, the All India Tanzeem Falahul Muslemin, and the All India Saifi Association have all issued statements in support of the Bahá’ís in Ivel, expressing grave concern about the confiscation of the properties.
“We are calling for the Higher court in Mazandaran and all responsible personnel to take action and to help the Baha’i community in Ivel get back their properties,” reads the statement from the American Islamic Congress. Echoing these sentiments, the Canadian Council of Imams writes, “We are deeply concerned by the ruling issued by an Iranian Court to confiscate the properties of 27 Bahá’ís in the farming village of Ivel.”
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the United Kingdom called on Iran’s Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, “to address this injustice,” adding that “Islam does not permit a government to confiscate land from citizens just because they follow a different religion.”
Diane Ala’i, Representative of the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) to the United Nations in Geneva, says, “The sight of Muslim leaders around the world coming to the aid of their Bahá’í friends in Iran in an extraordinary wave of support is a powerful signal to the Islamic Republic that their co-religionists around the world condemn their actions.
“Statements of support from leading Muslims for the Bahá’ís in Ivel, who have lived there for more than 150 years with their Muslim neighbors, show that the Iranian government’s invocation of Islamic law is a thin veil covering its persecution of the Bahá’ís.”
In a further sign of international support for the Bahá’ís in Iran, government officials around the world have condemned the Iranian court decision. The Canadian Foreign Minister, Marc Garneau, says his government is “concerned” by the ruling, urging Iran to “eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief.” The call has been echoed by officials in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, Brazil, the United States, the European Parliament and the United Nations. In Sweden, 12 members of parliament and other elected representatives have strongly called on Iran to return the lands of the Bahá’ís of Ivel.
“Stop confiscating Baha'i properties in the village of Ivel,” states Jos Douma, the Netherlands’ Special Envoy for Religion or Belief. “And—at last—recognize Baha'i[s] as a religious community.” The German Federal Government Commissioner for Global Freedom of Religion, Markus Grübel, also called for Iran to recognize the Bahá’ís as a religious community in the country and to end the “discrimination and persecution of Bahá’í communities.”
South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre, an organization known for its human rights work during apartheid, has also issued a letter condemning the property confiscations.
“The world is watching and is appalled by the Iranian government’s blatant injustices towards the Bahá’í community,” says Ms. Ala’i of the BIC. “The innocence of the Bahá’ís is more evident than ever to the international community and Iran is being held accountable for the gross injustices it has inflicted on the Bahá’í community in Iran. The government must take the necessary steps to not only return the lands to the Bahá’ís in Ivel but to end the systematic persecution of the Bahá’ís throughout the entire country once and for all.”
The history of land confiscation and mass displacement of Bahá'ís in Iran is detailed in a special section of the website of the Canadian Bahá’í community’s Office of Public Affairs.