Today on Blogcritics
Home » Culture and Society » Interview with Nava Ghalili on the Persecution of the Baha’is in Iran

Interview with Nava Ghalili on the Persecution of the Baha’is in Iran

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

It’s that time of year again with colleges opening across the country. Millions of students will continue their pursuit of a college degree. Just imagine for a moment though if you were told you were not allowed to go to college, simply because of your faith.

That is exactly what happens to members of the Baha’i Faith in Iran. The Baha’i’s are a religious minority in Iran that advocates unity and peace.

The government of Iran bars members of the Baha’i Faith from going to college or even holding certain employment. That alone tells you the Baha’i’s are a persecuted minority in Iran.

But it gets much worse. Recently, seven leaders of the Baha’i Faith were sentenced to 20 years in prison (according to CNN, the sentences were just reduced to 10 years). The Iranian government accuses them of spying and spreading “corruption on earth.”

The British Foreign Secretary William Hague reacted to the initial sentencing, stating:

“This is a shocking example of the Iranian state’s continued discrimination against the Bahá’ís. It is completely unacceptable.The Iranian judiciary has repeatedly failed to allay international and domestic concerns that these seven men and women are guilty of anything other than practising their faith. It is clear that from arrest to sentencing, the Iranian authorities did not follow even their own due process, let alone the international standards to which Iran is committed.”

Nava Ghalili is a multimedia journalist who works for Fox 43 News in York, Pennsylvania. Nava Ghalili She is also a member of the Baha’i Faith. She took the time to answer a few questions about the crisis of the Baha’i’s in Iran. Most importantly, she answers how anyone can take action to help the Baha’i’s.

 

You have worked as a journalist in the United States and also Australia. But back in Iran would you have had the same opportunities in journalism as a member of the Baha’i Faith?

You know, I think we should first feel so blessed to be living in a place where we have the freedom to express our feelings and thoughts, our beliefs. It’s such a great part of being human, being able to seek the truth for ourselves and share this with others.

As a journalist I feel very grateful to be sharing the stories of humanity on television, with no fear of what the truth I have found can do or whom it will affect.

In Iran this may not be the case, as a Baha’i we cannot express our beliefs freely.

They are unifying beliefs of the equality between men and women, the balance between science and religion, the oneness of humanity, the elimination of prejudice and the abolition of the extremes between poverty and wealth.

In Iran as a journalist there might be a fear that accompanies the occupation, a fear that I could be hurt by exploring the truths I find.

In Iran, as a journalist, regardless of what religion, there would be a fear to please a political hierarchy, and then couple that with being a Baha’i, a persecuted minority, it could be dangerous. I don’t believe the freedom to express, nor the opportunity, would be there.

It makes my heart very sad, because without expression, to me the light of truth becomes dim, for an entire society.

Why does the Iranian government fear a faith that promotes unity and peace?

I cannot know for sure. This is a question I believe many people who are not even Baha’i’s ask themselves. This, I believe, is a question many human rights groups ask themselves.

The founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah says, “Love is a light that never dwelleth in a heart possessed by fear.”

I think in many ways, fear, when married to ignorance can breed very dangerous circumstances.

The Baha’i’s only long for peace, do not believe in war, but are constantly persecuted and tortured by the government, without merit or logical reasoning.

Theologically speaking, many Muslims do not believe or accept a prophet or messenger that comes after Muhammad, and because Baha’u’llah revealed himself after the Prophet Muhammad’s dispensation, there is resistance. This is the only thing I can think of with regard to their fear, quite similar to the persecution other religions faced in previous civilizations where the world did not feel comfortable or ready to recognize a new prophet or adopt new advancing principles.

Though is this a valid humanistic basis by which one should kill, imprison, and torture another innocent human being?

To me this is a futile resistance that carries with it little desire to seek the truth outside the traditional dogma which man has allowed himself to be consumed with, dogmas that carry little understanding of the true essence of what I believe religion to be — love, light, and truth and the ultimate progression of humankind.

So, to answer your question as to why this regime fears the proclamation made by Baha’is, when they seek only peace and harmony, I could not fairly tell you, because I am myself bewildered by the idea.

Are there elements of Iranian society that support the Baha’i and want the persecution to stop?

Sure there are, a great many people that herald and fend for the rights of Baha’i’s, we see more and more people whom are not Baha’i’s striving to protect the sanctity of that which is the Baha’i Faith, and we see them in Iran and around the world.

Right now there are over 50 Baha’i’s, most specifically seven, being imprisoned on charges that are not justified, they bear no legal justification. They are being persecuted simply because they are Baha’i’s.

To me, the Iranian society and culture itself is so opposite to hatred, Iranians are so hospitable, loving, acceptable, it is a rich and beautiful culture, which for a great time, historically, was the envy of nations, of civilizations.

It is not the people we see that are opposed to the advanced principles of the Baha’i Faith.

How can someone help the Baha’i in Iran?

I am so glad you asked because I think many of us think that from so far away there is little we can do, but we can do much.

Please write to your elected officials. They are the ones that can make a movement happen.

More information about the situation of the Baha’is in Iran is also available, and information about the Baha’i Faith is available at the official website.

Powered by

About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.
  • http://pukirahe.wordpress.com/ Pukirahe

    Thank you for asking and answering clearly about the persection of the Baha’is in Iran. I have visited Iran in 1968, and I sincerely love the Iranians and the Iranian culture. I am praying that the present leaders will rethink about the glory of Iran.

  • Randall Dighton

    Please note: the correct links to the official Baha’i website and the current situation of the Baha’is of Iran are:
    http://www.bahai.org
    news.bahai.org/iran
    There are no apostrophes in the URLs.
    Thank you.

  • Ruvy

    I couldn’t help but notice that you managed to avoid mentioning that the Baha’i make their world headquarters in Haifa, Israel. Yeah, William – ISRAEL. Think about that for a minute before you tell us about all the poor Arabs in the world again.

  • Edward

    With regard to Ruvy’s comment about the Baha’i Faith and its international headquarters and sacred shrines being in Israel: It is true and a consequence of the exile and imprisonment of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith in 1868 by the rulers of the Ottoman empire. He and a small band of followers and family were exiled from Edirne in Turkey to Akka (present day Akko), near Haifa, where they were imprisoned in an army barracks and later confined to the citadel of Akka until at last allowed some local freedom of movement. It culminated a period of 40 years of exile and imprisonment, from 1852 to 1892. Because the present day nation of Israel was founded in 1948, eighty years after 1868, there is clearly no historical linkage. However, the present-day relationship between the Baha’i community and the government of Israel is cordial.