Iranian media attacks on Baha'is and Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi seek to stir "irrational fears and prejudices"

August 12, 2008

NEW YORK, United States — Fraudulent claims in the Iranian news media about seven imprisoned Baha'i leaders and the efforts of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and others to defend them represent an effort by the government to prevent Baha'is from having adequate legal representation – and also to stir up “irrational fears and prejudices,” the Baha'i International Community said in a statement today.

“Reports published in government-run news outlets point to an effort on the part of the authorities to use the mass media to spread accusations that the seven prisoners have engaged in subversive activities, and to continue to deprive these Baha’is from any access to legal counsel by maligning Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the well-known Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner who, together with her colleagues, has stated her readiness to defend the Baha’is,” said the statement.

The statement, posted to the Baha'i International Community’s United Nations Office Web site, responds to allegations that Mrs. Ebadi’s daughter has become a Baha'i, that Baha'is are agents of Zionism, and that when Iranian Baha'is communicate with the Baha'i Faith’s international governing body in Israel, it is somehow a “conspiracy.”

“The Iranian government seizes every means at its disposal to stigmatize the Baha’is and then, within the poisoned atmosphere it has itself created, when it wants to discredit someone, it asserts that the person is a Baha’i,” the statement said. “Mrs. Ebadi is not the first individual upon whom this tactic has been used. As a lawyer, Mrs. Ebadi defends individuals and groups of many different backgrounds; this does not mean that she necessarily espouses their beliefs. What, then, is the state-sanctioned press trying to insinuate when it contends that her daughter is a Baha’i?”

The full statement can be read at: