Baha'is as a Middle East Controversy

E.U. calls for end of ban to practise Baha'i Faith in Iran

European Union passes resolution calling on Iran to lift bans on Baha'is:

Freedom of religion

I. whereas, apart from Islam, only Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism are recognised as religions by law, while those who practise unrecognised religions, such as Baha'is and Sufis, are discriminated against and violently repressed; whereas notably the Baha'is cannot exercise their religion and are moreover consequently deprived of all civil rights, such as their rights to property and access to higher education,

Freedom of religion

13. Calls on the Iranian authorities to eliminate all forms of discrimination based on religious grounds; notably calls for the de facto ban on practising the Baha'i faith to be lifted;...


Ahwazi: European Parliament Adopts Resolution
A few days ago I posted an entry about a resolution of the Europian Paliament and now a committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations has passed a similar resolution:


UNITED NATIONS, 22 November 2006 (BWNS) -- A committee of the United
Nations General Assembly yesterday passed a resolution expressing
"serious concern" over the human rights situation in Iran, including
escalation of violations against Iranian Baha'is.

The resolution passed the Assembly's Third Committee by a vote of 70
48 on 21 November 2006. It will now go to the General Assembly
for vote, in December. The Third Committee considers human rights
issues for the Assembly.

Put forward by Canada and co-sponsored by 43 countries, the
calls on Iran to "eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of
discrimination based on religious, ethnic or linguistic grounds, and
human rights violations against persons belonging to minorities,
including Arabs, Azeris, Baha'is, Baluchis, Kurds, Christians, Jews,
and Sunni Muslims."

The resolution takes particular note of the worsening situation
Iran's 300,000-member Baha'i community, noting "reports of plans by
state to identify and monitor Baha'is," "an increase in cases of
arbitrary arrest and detention," and "the denial of freedom of
religion or of
publicly carrying out communal affairs."

The resolution also expresses concern over the "destruction of sites
religious importance" to Baha'is and "the suspension of social,
educational and community-related activities and the denial of
access to
higher education, employment, pensions, adequate housing and other
for Baha'is.

"We are extremely grateful to the international community for this
significant show of support for the Baha'is of Iran," said Bani
Dugal, the
principal representative of the Community to the United Nations.

"The level of persecution and discrimination facing the Baha'i
community of Iran has steadily worsened over the past year. The
Government has
stepped up its covert monitoring of Baha'is, and at present more
129 Baha'is are awaiting trial on false charges, targeted solely
of their religion.

"The General Assembly and its Third Committee deserve special praise
for stepping into the gap created by the slow start of the new UN
Rights Council, which has not yet made fully operational its mission
upholding the international human rights regime," said Ms. Dugal.

If approved by the General Assembly, which is likely given
vote, the resolution will be the nineteenth expressing concern over
human rights in Iran since 1985. All of these resolutions have taken
particular note of Iran's systematic persecution of the Baha'i

Over the last two years, Baha'is have been arrested, released on
and are now awaiting trial throughout the country. The bail demands
have been high, in most cases requiring the Baha'is to hand over
considerable sums of money, deeds to property, business or work

As well, evidence has emerged over the last year that the Government
has established a program to monitor and identify Baha'is. That
documented in secret government memoranda that have been made public
human rights defenders, has been the focus of considerable outcry.

Earlier this month, for example, the Baha'i International Community
obtained a letter from Iran's Ministry of Interior that ordered
throughout the country to step up the surveillance of Iranian

The 19 August 2006 letter requested provincial officials to complete
detailed questionnaire about the circumstances and activities of
Baha'is, including their "financial status," "social interactions,"
"association with foreign assemblies," among other things. It
specifically asked "relevant offices to cautiously and sensitively
monitor and
supervise" all Baha'i social activities.

To view the photos and additional features click here:
Baha'i World News Service - Front Page

For more information,
Baha'i World News Service - Front Page.
News on "state identifcation cards" in Egypt:

Baha'is in Egypt may face serious issues:

Egypt court sets date for full hearing on Baha'i case

CAIRO, 25 November 2006 (BWNS) --

The date for a full hearing on a closely watched court case over the right of a Baha'i couple here to have their religion properly identified on state identification cards has now been set.

At a procedural hearing on 20 November, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court continued the case to 2 December 2006, when it is now scheduled to be heard by the entire three-member court in a plenary session.

The decision comes a few days after the United States Committee on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued a press release urging the Egyptian government to end its current policy on identification cards, which requires citizens to list one of three officially recognized religions, even if they are members of a minority religion like the Baha'i Faith or another belief system.

"Current Egyptian policy essentially turns Baha'is into non-citizens because without an identity card they cannot gain access to government services like education and employment, or engage in basic financial transactions, such as opening a bank account or obtaining a driver's license," said Commission Chair Felice D. Gaer in a press release issued on 16 November. "It is even illegal to be in public without a card.

"This policy is highly discriminatory and is incompatible with international standards. The current court case provides the Egyptian government with an opportunity to change its policy and omit mention of religious affiliation from identity documents or to make optional any mention of religious affiliation," said Ms. Gaer.

In April, a lower administrative court ruled that the Baha'i couple should be identified as Baha'is on official documents, a decision that if upheld will essentially overturn the government's policy of allowing people to choose from only from Islam, Christianity or Judaism on state documents.

The lower court's ruling provoked an outcry among fundamentalist elements in Egyptian society and the case has since gained international attention in the news media and from human rights groups.

Because they are unwilling to lie about their religion on government documents, Baha'is in Egypt are increasingly unable to gain legal access to basic citizenship rights, including employment, education, medical and financial services.

The government appealed the lower court's ruling in early May, and a court hearing was set for 19 June. Subsequent postponements were made to 16 September, 20 November, and now to 2 December.

uno-bp-06 11 25 -1-EGYPTSETDEC-492-N


Baha'i World News Service - Egypt court sets date for full hearing on Baha'i case
Current events are coming along quickly in Egypt.

Go to Google or you own choice of search engine and put in "blogs egyptian Baha'is" and the number one site will be a personal blig by a Baha'i from Egypt (but I think not actually in Egypt.) There you can get a personal point of view on ongoing events. There is a great deal of background information - like there are many other blogs by Egyptian nationals that are supporting, generally, the right of Baha'is to have some kind of entry allowed on the National ID cards. Reading back through the stories will give you some information on the lawyers for the Baha'is, some history on the Baha'is in Egypt, arguments on Egyptian TV and Newspapers as well as coverage of some of their congressional and other national speeches.

Due to the world date system, they're Saturday, Dec 16th, the date of the Supreme Court of Egypt's decision, will be late today for us. I believe they are 7 or so timezones ahead of us so for them their Friday evening has begun and by our Friday evening, their Saturday morning will have begun.
Report from Egypt:


CAIRO, 16 December 2006 (BWNS) --

In a closely watched case that has
become the focus of a national debate on religious freedom, Egypt's
Supreme Administrative Court today ruled against the right of
Baha'is to be
properly identified on government documents.

The decision upholds current government policy, a policy which
the Baha'is either to lie about their religious beliefs or give up
state identification cards. The policy effectively deprives Egyptian
Baha'is of access to most rights of citizenship, including
financial services, and even medical care.

"We deplore the Court's ruling in this case, which violates an
extensive body of international law on human rights and religious
freedom to
which Egypt has long been a party," said Bani Dugal, the principal
representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United

"Since this was the last avenue of appeal in this particular case,
Court's decision threatens to make non-citizens of an entire
community, solely on the basis of religious belief," said Ms. Dugal.

"Our hope now is that the public debate over this issue will cause
Egyptian government to rectify its discriminatory policies," said
Dugal. "This could be accomplished either by allowing Baha'is to be
listed on government documents, by abolishing the religious
listing entirely or, simply, by allowing the word 'other' to be
included on state identification forms."

The case stems from a lawsuit filed against the government by a
couple, Husam Izzat Musa and Ranya Enayat Rushdy, who had their
identification cards and passports confiscated after they applied to
their daughters added to their passports, which listed the Baha'i
Faith as
their religion.

In Egypt, all citizens must list their religious affiliation on
ID cards and other documents, and current policy requires that they
choose from one of the three officially recognized religions -
Christianity or Judaism.

In April, a lower administrative court ruled in favor of the couple,
saying the state must issue them ID cards that properly identified
religion. The ruling said that even if the government did not
the Baha'i Faith, adherents should still have their religious status
properly stated on official documents.

That ruling provoked an outcry among extremist elements in Egyptian
society, who objected to any official mention of a religion other
than the
three mentioned in the Qur'an, opening a vigorous debate over issues
religious freedom and tolerance here.

Since April, more than 400 articles, stories, commentaries and
have appeared in the Egyptian and Arabic news media about the case
its fallout. As well, independent human rights organizations here
abroad have closely followed the issue.

In May, the government appealed the lower court's ruling, which
the case before the Supreme Administrative Court.

On 2 December, a final hearing was held on the case, at which Baha'i
lawyers argued for rejection of the government's appeal, on the
that the lower court's ruling is fully supported by Egyptian law.
Court said at that time that it would release its final ruling today.

To view the photos and additional features click here:
Baha'i World News Service - Front Page

For more information,
Baha'i World News Service - Front Page.
Baha'is in Egypt:

"Baha'is in Egypt fight for recognition as people"

by Cynthia Johnston (Reuters, February 20, 2007)

Cairo, Egypt - If Egyptian dentist Raouf Hindy would only deny his Baha'i faith, he could get his children the identity documents they need to enrol in Egyptian schools and later to marry, drive a car or open a bank account.

But Hindy has insisted on telling the truth.

His decision has thrust him to the forefront of a legal battle over Egypt's identity politics by Baha'is, who are seen as heretics by many Muslims and whose faith is not recognized by the state.

Hindy is suing the government for the right to omit religion from his children's official documents -- a bold act in this deeply religious, majority-Muslim country where the tiny Baha'i community is said to number between 500 and 2,000.

If he wins, lawyers say the case may set a precedent that would help other Baha'is get identity papers largely denied them since 2004. Discrimination against Baha'is is entrenched in Egyptian bureaucracy, they say.

"I don't like any person to force me to write a religion I don't believe in. You know why? Religion is between your heart and God," Hindy told Reuters.

The Egyptian constitution guarantees religious freedom but in practice officials are reluctant to recognize religions other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Rights activists say Baha'is face systematic persecution in Egypt. Rules, rigidly enforced since Egypt computerized its identity card system, require that people's official documents show a religious affiliation, and it must be chosen from among the three recognized faiths.

To read more go to

WorldWide Religious News-Baha'is in Egypt fight for recognition as people
Baha'i students face discrimiantion in Iran:


NEW YORK, 7 March 2007 (BWNS) -- The Baha'i International Community has
obtained a document that appears to confirm double-dealing by Iran in
its policy towards Baha'i students seeking higher education.

The document, a 2 November 2006 letter from the headquarters of Payame
Noor University to its regional branches, states that it is government
policy that Baha'i students "cannot enroll" in Iranian universities and
that if they are already enrolled, "they should be expelled."

"This document provides proof of Iran's duplicitous behavior regarding
Iranian Baha'i students," said Bani Dugal, the Baha'i International
Community's principal representative to the United Nations.

"In its public face, Iran claims that it has finally opened the doors
to Baha'i students, after some 25 years of keeping them out of public
and private universities in Iran," said Ms. Dugal.

"But, as evidenced by this confidential memorandum from the Payame Noor
central office, the real policy is apparently to simply expel Baha'is
as soon as they can be identified."

Indeed, the content of the letter sharply contradicts denials issued
last week by an Iranian government spokesperson when asked to comment on
figures released by the Baha'i International Community showing that a
large number of Baha'i university students have been expelled so far
this year, solely because of religious discrimination.

According to a report by Reuters on 28 February 2007, a spokesperson
for the Iranian mission to the United Nations, who had requested his name
not be used, was asked about the high percentage of expelled students
and replied: "No one in Iran because of their religion has been expelled
from studying."

Until two years ago, all Baha'i students were kept out of universities
by the requirement that everyone list their religion on entrance
examination forms. Baha'is were automatically rejected.

After pressure from the international community and human rights
organizations, Iran changed its policy and dropped the religious affiliation

Last autumn, hundreds of Baha'is passed the examination and some 178
were admitted into the university of their choice. So far this school
year, however, at least 70 Baha'i students have been expelled as
universities have learned that they were Baha'is.

The 2 November letter was issued on the letterhead of Iran's Ministry
of Science, Research and Technology, and goes out from Payame Noor's
"Central Protection Office" to directors of the university's regional

"With respect, according to the ruling of the Cultural Revolutionary
Council and the instructions of the Ministry of Information and the Head
Protection Office of the Central Organization of Payame Noor
University, Baha'is cannot enroll in universities and higher education centers,"
states the letter.

"Therefore, such cases if encountered should be reported, their
enrollment should be strictly avoided, and if they are already enrolled they
should be expelled."

Payame Noor University is "the largest state university in terms of
student numbers and coverage," according to the university's website, with
some 467,000 students in 74 degree programs at 257 study centers and
units throughout the country.

So far this year, at least 30 Baha'i students have been expelled from
Payame Noor.

To view view the document in English, go to:

To view the document in Arabic, go to:

For more information about the expulsion of Baha'is from universities
in Iran, go to Baha'i World News Service - Iranian Baha'is face continuing discrimination in higher education

To view the photos and additional features click here:
Baha'i World News Service - Front Page

I am posting excerpts from the United States State Departments report on human rights practices in Iran. If anybody would like to read the complete report they may go to US State Department's 2006 Report on Human Rights Practices in Iran

3/7/07 [SIZE=+1]US State Department's 2006 Report on Human Rights Practices in Iran [/SIZE]

The Islamic Republic of Iran, with a population of approximately 68 million, is a constitutional, theocratic republic in which Shi'a Muslim clergy dominate the key power structures. Article Four of the constitution states that "All laws and regulations…shall be based on Islamic principles." Government legitimacy is based on the twin pillars of popular sovereignty (Article Six) and the rule of the Supreme Jurisconsulate, or Supreme Leader (Article Five).

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dominated the tricameral structure of government (legislative, executive, and judicial branches). He was not directly elected but chosen by an elected body of religious leaders, the Assembly of Experts. Khamenei directly controlled the armed forces and exercised indirect control over the internal security forces, the judiciary, and other key institutions. Hardline conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the presidency in June 2005 in an election widely viewed as neither free nor fair.


Numerous publishers, editors, and journalists (including those working on Internet sites) were detained, jailed, tortured, and fined, or they were prohibited from publishing their writings during the year (see sections 1.e. and 2.a.).
Adherents of the Baha'i faith continued to face arbitrary arrest and detention (see section 2.c.)....

Property Restitution
The constitution allows the government to confiscate property acquired either illicitly or in a manner not in conformance with Islamic law. The UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Adequate Housing noted religious minorities, including members of the Baha'i faith, were particularly affected. The UNSR's June report noted the "abusive use of [the law] is seen as an instrument for confiscating property of individuals as a form of retribution for their political and/or religious beliefs." The report noted documentation of approximately 640 Baha'i properties confiscated since 1980, instances of numerous undocumented cases, and court verdicts declaring confiscation of property from the "evil sect of the Baha'i" legally and religiously justifiable. Rights of members of the Baha'i faith were not recognized under the constitution, and they have no avenue to seek restitution of or compensation for confiscated property.

In April the Minister of Communications and Information Technology announced the government's intention to establish a "national Internet," which would improve on the costly monitoring process that required Web site information to exit the country and then return. A study published by HRW in October 2005 listed Internet sites that had been blocked in the country, including women's rights sites, several foreign-based, Farsi-language news sites, some popular sites of Internet writers, the Freedom Movement Party Web site, a Web site promoting the views of Ayatollah Montazeri, several Kurdish Web sites, Web sites dedicated to political prisoners, and a Baha'i Web site. In October 2005 government authorities also blocked access to the Baztab news Web site. The Web site manager said they received a judicial order saying the temporary ban was based on a complaint related to the nuclear issue. In December 2005 13 Majles deputies protested Internet censorship in a letter to President Ahmadinejad and urged him to end the ban on these three sites...

c. Freedom of Religion
The constitution declares that the "official religion of Iran is Islam and the doctrine followed is that of Ja'fari (Twelver) Shi'ism." The constitution also states that "other Islamic denominations are to be accorded full respect" and recognizes the country's pre-Islamic religions--Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews--as "protected" religious minorities; however, in practice the government restricted freedom of religion. Religions not specifically protected under the constitution, particularly the Baha'i Faith, did not enjoy freedom.

The central feature of the country's Islamic republican system is rule by the "religious jurisconsult." Its senior leadership consisted principally of Shi'a clergymen, including the supreme leader of the revolution, the president, the head of the judiciary, and the speaker of parliament.

During the year, for the first time, approximately 200 Baha'i students were admitted to universities. However, it was not known if their admission resulted from changed government policy or a change in the use of university application forms.

On May 19, officials arrested 54 Baha'is in Shiraz. No charges were made, and all but three were released on bail within a week. The remaining three Baha'is were released on June 14.

On June 28, authorities re-arrested Baha'i member Pooya Mavahhed, who was first arrested in August 2005 on a charge of opposition to the government but was released 10 days later on bail.

On August 17, according to press reports, authorities arrested Babak Rouhi in Mashad on counts of having made copies of a Baha'i book for a Baha'i function.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination

The population is approximately 99 percent Muslim; 89 percent of the population is Shi'a, and 10 percent is Sunni. Baha'i, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Jewish communities constitute less than 1 percent of the population.

The legal system previously discriminated against recognized religious minorities in relation to blood money; however, in 2004 the Expediency Council authorized collection of equal blood money for the death of Muslim and non-Muslim men. Women and Baha'i men remained excluded from the revised ruling.

Inheritance rules favored Muslim family members over non-Muslims. For example, under existing inheritance laws, if a non-Muslim converted to Islam, that person would inherit all family holdings while non-Muslim relatives would receive nothing.

Furthermore, proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims is illegal. The government did not ensure the right of citizens to change or recant their religion. Apostasy, specifically conversion from Islam, was punishable by death, although there were no reported instances of the death penalty being applied for apostasy during the year. There was no further information on the Internet report of a Christian killed in November 2005 who had converted from Islam 10 years earlier.Baha'is are considered apostates because of their claim to a religious revelation subsequent to that of the Prophet Mohammed. The government defined the Baha'i faith as a political "sect" linked to the Pahlavi monarchy and Israel and, therefore, counterrevolutionary.

Baha'i organizations outside the country warned that the government intensified a strategy of intimidation against Baha'is.The country's estimated 300,000 to 350,000 Baha'is were not allowed to teach or practice their faith or to maintain links with co-religionists abroad. The government continued to imprison and detain Baha'is based on their religious beliefs. A 2001 Justice Ministry report indicated the existence of a government policy to eliminate the Baha'i community eventually.

In March the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief expressed concern about allegations that security forces were monitoring and gathering information about the Baha'i community. Baha'i groups reported the government was collecting names of Baha'is across the country, and there was an increase of anti-Baha'i editorials in progovernment newspapers.

In December 2005 the longest held Baha'i prisoner, Zabihullah Mahrami, died in prison of unknown causes. Mahrami was arrested in 1995 and faced a life sentence for apostasy. Another Baha'i, Mehran Kawsari, who was sentenced to three years in prison in November 2004 after writing a letter to then-president Khatami on the situation of Baha'is, was released on bail on March 18.

On May 19, 54 Baha'is were arrested in the city of Shiraz. Those arrested were primarily Baha'i youths participating in a student volunteer program to tutor underprivileged children. All were released by mid-June.

Throughout 2005 the government arrested 65 other Baha'is, detained them, and later released them on high bails, often in the form of property deeds. While they were imprisoned, their families often were not informed of their location, and authorities denied any record of their arrests or did not indicate charges against them. Some were not allowed to work for several months after their release. Government agents also searched numerous Baha'i homes and seized possessions.

In October the National Spiritual Assembly of Baha'is of the United Statesreported that more than 300 Baha'i students passed the university entrance exam in the country and were admitted. The Baha'i group reported 201 students were allowed to register for university, but 14 were identified as Baha'is by their professors, dismissed from classes, and told they would need a Ministry of Education certificate to resume studies. At year's end they had reportedly not received responses from the ministry.

The December 19 UNGA resolution on the country's human rightsexpressed serious concerns about increasing discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities, citing the escalation and increased frequency of violations against Baha'is. It called on the government to implement the 1996 UNSR report of the Commission on Human Rights on religious tolerance, particularly in regard to the Baha'i community.

New reports of harassment in Iran:

Baha'i schoolchildren in Iran increasingly harassed and abused by school authorities

NEW YORK, 5 April 2007 (BWNS) --

Baha'i students in primary and secondary schools throughout Iran are increasingly being harassed, vilified, and held up to abuse, according to recent reports from inside the country.
During a 30-day period from mid-January to mid-February, some 150 incidents of insults, mistreatment, and even physical violence by school authorities against Baha'i students were reported as occurring in at least 10 Iranian cities.

"These new reports that the most vulnerable members of the Iranian Baha'i community -- children and junior youth -- are being harassed, degraded, and, in at least one case, blindfolded and beaten, is an extremely disturbing development," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"The increasing number of such incidents suggests a serious and shameful escalation in the ongoing persecution of Iranian Baha'is," said Ms. Dugal. "The fact that school-aged children are being targeted by those who should rightfully hold their trust -- teachers and school administrators -- only makes this latest trend even more ominous."

Ms. Dugal said the Baha'i International Community has been aware of scattered reports of abuse directed at schoolchildren but has only recently learned that young Baha'is are now widely being forced to identify their religion -- and are also being insulted, degraded, threatened with expulsion, and, in some cases, summarily dismissed from school.

"They are also being pressured to convert to Islam, required to endure slander of their faith by religious instructors, and being taught and tested on 'Iranian history' in authorized texts that denigrate, distort, and brazenly falsify their religious heritage," said Ms. Dugal. "They are also being repeatedly told that they are not to attempt to teach their religion."

According to Ms. Dugal, one Baha'i has reported that the school-age children of a relative in Kermanshah were called to the front of the classroom, where they were required to listen to insults against the Faith.

"Another student, accepted at an art institute, has been followed by the authorities and on three occasions seized, blindfolded, and beaten," said Ms. Dugal.

"While a few of these may be isolated attacks, the extent and nature of this reprehensible activity has led the Baha'is in Iran to conclude that this is an organized effort," said Ms. Dugal.

Of special concern, she added, was the fact that a high proportion of the attacks against high school students have been against girls.
"While the attacks reported to have taken place in elementary and middle schools were leveled evenly against boys and girls, those at the high school level targeted girls to a far greater degree: of 76 incidents, 68 were against Baha'i girls," said Ms. Dugal.

Ms. Dugal added that the ages of the children and junior youth affected are as follows: at the elementary school level, grades 1-5, students 6 to 11 years old; at the middle school level, grades 6-8, students 11 to 13 years old; and at the high school level, grades 9-12, students 14 to 17 years old.
The reports of attacks on innocent Baha'i schoolchildren come at a time when a growing number of older Baha'i students seeking to enter Iranian universities have been expelled after being identified as Baha'is.
So far this year, at least 94 college-age Baha'i students have been expelled from institutions of higher education. That figure is up from 70 as reported in late February.

Since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979, the 300,000-member Iranian Baha'i community has faced ongoing and systematic persecution. In the early 1980s, more than 200 Baha'is were killed, hundreds were imprisoned, and thousands were deprived of jobs and education.
At the present time, more than 120 Baha'is are out on bail and awaiting trial on false charges, solely because of their religious beliefs and activities. Over the last year, as well, international human rights groups have expressed concern at the Iranian government's efforts to step-up their covert monitoring and identification of Baha'is.

uno-bp-07 04 05 -1-IRANSCHOOLS-515-N
Update from Egypt:

Site describes plight of Baha'i children in Egypt:

The attached newspaper article, republished previously on this blog, states: ...the children's parents and grandparents are Egyptian. Even after the passing of more than three years of court battles, Dr. Raouf has not been able to obtain birth certificates for his children. Since Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court has prevented Bahá’ís from documenting their religion as “Bahá’í” in the religion section on all official documents—in violation of citizenship rights to freedom of belief—Dr. Raouf in collaboration with a team of attorneys, was forced to amend his request to insert dashes or leave the religion section vacant on his children’s birth certificates.

Dr. Raouf Hindy said that this amended request was caused by the fact that he must not be forced to insert incorrect statements in official documents [that is if he enters one of the three allowed religions]...if he did so, it would have given rise to more forgers and liars in the society. He stated that his elder son (the brother of the twins) is in possession of an Egyptian birth certificate with a dash inserted in place of religion, that is why he is requesting that his twin children (Emad and Nancy) be treated in the same way.

Baha'i Faith in Egypt: Baha'is of Egypt: Update on One of the Lawsuits
More rights violations...

Iranian Baha'i students shut out of vocational education

31 July 2007 (BWNS)

Iranian Baha'is seeking to enter Iran's technical and vocational institutes have been effectively barred from admission for the coming academic year, since the application to sit for the entrance examinations leaves them with no option but to deny their faith, which Baha'is refuse to be coerced into doing.

The Baha'i International Community learned recently that the 2007 form for the entrance examination for undergraduate courses under the technical and vocational education system indicates that only one box may be marked for religion.

The applicant is given three choices - Zoroastrian, Jewish, or Christian - and if none of the boxes is marked, the form explains, the applicant will be considered Muslim. This is unacceptable to Baha'is.

"Under this system, Baha'is cannot fill out the application without a de facto denial of their faith, which is against their religious principles," said Bani Dugal, the Baha'i International Community's principal representative to the United Nations.

"Accordingly, Iranian Baha'is will not be able to take this entrance examination, and so they are effectively blocked this year from obtaining technical and vocational education in Iran.

"Such a denial of access to education violates the internationally established right to education, to which the government of Iran has agreed, and reflects yet another facet of Iran's continuing persecution of the Baha'i community of Iran," said Ms. Dugal.

The Baha'i International Community decries the government's actions not only against Baha'i students - who are deprived of higher education solely for their religious beliefs - but also against any other Iranian students who are being denied access to higher education on clearly insupportable grounds, such as for giving voice to beliefs or opinions that are not officially endorsed, Ms. Dugal said.

Last autumn, after more than 25 years during which Iranian Baha'is were outright banned from attending public and private universities, several hundred Baha'i students were admitted to various educational institutions around the country. This came about after the government stated its position that the reference to religion on entrance examination papers to nonspecialized universities and colleges did not identify university applicants by their religion, but only gave the religious studies subject on which they had been examined. This clarification was accepted by the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith.
The acceptance of Baha'i students at Iranian universities has, however, been short-lived, Ms. Dugal said.

According to the latest figures from Iran, of the Baha'i students who took the national entrance examination last year, ultimately some 200 were admitted and enrolled. Over the course of the school year, however, over half that number - at most recent count, at least 128 - have been expelled as school officials discovered they were Baha'is. This has led observers to conclude that Iran's statements last year were nothing more than a ruse intended to quell international protest over the denial to Baha'i students of access to higher education.

"This latest news about the registration form for technical and vocational education only serves to further confirm that Iran continues to play games with Baha'i students in their country, and that its promises of access to higher education for them are hollow," said Ms. Dugal.

To read this news story in Persian, go to
Children being targeted...


Iran harrassing Baha’i kids on a massive scale

Omid T (Iran/USA)
August 1st, 2007

Baha’i students in primary and secondary schools throughout Iran are increasingly being harassed, vilified, and held up to abuse, according to recent reports from inside the country.

During a 30-day period…some 150 incidents of insults, mistreatment, and even physical violence by school authorities against Baha’i students were reported as occurring in at least 10 Iranian cities.

“These new reports that the most vulnerable members of the Iranian Baha’i community — children and junior youth — are being harassed, degraded, and, in at least one case, blindfolded and beaten, is an extremely disturbing development,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“The increasing number of such incidents suggests a serious and shameful escalation in the ongoing persecution of Iranian Baha’is,” said Ms. Dugal. “The fact that school-aged children are being targeted by those who should rightfully hold their trust — teachers and school administrators — only makes this latest trend even more ominous.”

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Baha'i students in Iran facing discrimination...

Another piece of information about the issue of Baha'i students in Iran came out recently in the form of a memo apparently issued in 2006 by Iranian authorities:

Confidential Iran memo exposes policy to deny Baha'i students university education

NEW YORK 27 August

The Baha'i International Community has received a copy of a confidential 2006 letter from Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology instructing Iranian universities to expel any student who is discovered to be a Baha'i.
The letter refutes recent statements by Iranian officials, who say Baha'i students in Iran face no discrimination - despite the fact that more than half of the Baha'i university students enrolled last autumn were gradually expelled over the course of the 2006-2007 academic year.
"This latest document, which flatly states that Baha'i students should be expelled from universities once they are discovered, proves unequivocally that Iranian authorities remain intent on utterly blocking the development of Iranian Baha'is, despite what they say to the outside world," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

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Bahá'í World News Service - Bahá'í International Community - Confidential Iran government memo exposes duplicitous campaign to deny Baha’i students university education
Anti-Baha'i incidents growing...


NEW YORK, 21 September 2007 (BWNS) -- The bulldozing of a Baha'i
cemetery in Iran last week is the latest in a series of incidents in a
government-led campaign of hatred against Baha'is.

The destruction of the cemetery by individuals using heavy equipment
occurred between 9 September and 10 September near Najafabad, on the
outskirts of Isfahan. What happened there is nearly identical to what
happened in July in Yazd, where another Baha'i cemetery was extensively
damaged by earth-moving equipment.

The list of anti-Baha'i incidents is growing, as are human rights
violations against other groups in Iran.

In Najafabad, a few days before the destruction of more than 100 Baha'i
graves, threatening letters were delivered to some 30 Baha'i families.
In May, in Mazandaran province, the unoccupied homes of six Iranian
Baha'is were set on fire. In June, in Abadeh, vandals wrote hateful
graffiti on Baha'i houses and shops.

Since May, Baha'is in at least 17 towns have been detained for
interrogation. Six new arrests have been reported. In Kermanshah, a 70-year-old
man was sentenced to 70 lashes and a year in prison for "propagating
and spreading Bahaism and the defamation of the pure Imams." In
Mazandaran, a court has once again ruled against three women and a man who are
charged with "propagation on behalf of an organization which is

All these events are results of the Iranian government's long campaign
to incite hatred against Baha'is, a spokeswoman for the Baha'i
International Community said today.

"This should be a cause for concern among human rights activists
everywhere," said Diane Ala'i, the representative of the Baha'i International
Community to the United Nations in Geneva.

She appealed to the world to hold the Iranian government accountable
for its actions and to help prevent the situation from deteriorating into
further violence. Baha'is in Iran number about 300,000 and represent
the largest religious minority in the country.

"Put in a historical context, these kinds of attacks too often have
been a prelude to campaigns of oppression and violence that are far worse.

"While some of these incidents may seem to be minor, the fact that such
events are increasingly commonplace and reported as occurring in
virtually every region of Iran shows that the persecution of Baha'is remains
official government policy, and therefore is something for which Iran
must be held accountable," she said.

"The graffiti in Abadeh included slogans such as 'Death to Baha'is, the
mercenaries of America and England,' 'Hezbollah despises the Baha'is,'
'Baha'is - mercenaries of Israel' and 'Baha'is are unclean' - phrases
that relate directly to government propaganda that has been
disseminated in Iranian news media in recent years," Ms. Ala'i said.

She noted that other groups in Iran are also suffering human-rights

"In recent months, the Iranian authorities have been carrying out a
widespread crackdown on civil society, targeting academics, women's rights
activists, students, and journalists," said Ms. Ala'i.

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"You will never ever get them..."

"I tried to obtain the national ID card. In the application, I wrote that my religion was Baha'i. The officer refused to accept the application and asked me to present my birth certificate. I showed it to him. It stated that I was Baha'i and so were my parents. He still refused to accept the application and asked me to apply in Cairo. When I went to Cairo, I met an officer called Wa'il who opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a big pile of documents and said, 'You see, all these applications are from Baha'i who want IDs. You will never ever get them.' "

—Nayer Nabil, Cairo
Human Rights Groups issue report on Egypt:


NEW YORK, 16 November 2007 (BWNS) --

Egypt should end discriminatory
practices that prevent Baha'is and others from listing their true
religious beliefs on government documents, said Human Rights Watch and the
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in a major report released this

The 98-page report, titled "Prohibited Identities: State Interference
with Religious Freedom," focused on the problems that have emerged
because of Egypt's practice of requiring citizens to state their religious
identity on government documents but then restricting the choice to
Islam, Christianity, or Judaism.

"These policies and practices violate the right of many Egyptians to
religious freedom," stated the report, which was released on 12 November

"Because having an ID card is essential in many areas of public life,
the policies also effectively deny these citizens a wide range of civil
and political as well as economic and social rights," the report said.

The Baha'i International Community welcomed the report.

"We want to thank Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for
Personal Rights for calling the world's attention to the human rights
situation in Egypt," said Bani Dugal, the Baha'i International Community's
principal representative to the United Nations.

"The discriminatory practices identified by the report do indeed
gravely affect Egypt's Baha'i community, as well as others in Egypt who seek
to enjoy the freedom to believe as they choose, a right that is
guaranteed by international law.

"Our hope is that Egyptian authorities will now be encouraged to end
their discriminatory practices, which could be dissolved with the stroke
of a pen without harming the majority religious communities in the
least," said Ms. Dugal.

The joint HRW/EIPR report examined in detail how the limited choice
offered to citizens in declaring their religion affects the daily life of
Baha'is and converts from Islam, who also face problems under the

"While the Egyptian government's approach adversely affects anyone who
is not Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, and anyone who would prefer to
keep their convictions private, in Egypt today the greatest impact has
been on adherents of the Baha'i faith and on persons who convert or wish
to convert from Islam to Christianity," said the report.

Further, the report said, this "limited choice is not based on any
Egyptian law, but rather on the Ministry of Interior's interpretation of
Shari'a, or Islamic law. An Egyptian citizen has no option to request a
religious identification different from one of these, or to identify him
or herself as having no religion. If he or she insists on doing so,
authorities refuse to issue a national ID or related document reflecting
the requested religious identification."

"People without national IDs forfeit, among other things, the ability
to carry out even the simplest monetary transactions at banks and other
financial institutions. Other basic daily activities - engaging in a
property transaction, acquiring a driver's license, obtaining a pension
check - also require a national ID.

"Employers, both public and private, by law cannot hire someone without
an ID, and academic institutions require IDs for admission. Obtaining
a marriage license or a passport requires a birth certificate;
inheritance, pensions, and death benefits are contingent on death certificates.
The Ministry of Health has even refused to provide immunizations to
some Baha'i children because the Interior Ministry," the report

"These policies and practices violate Egyptian as well as international
law," said the report. "Logically, it makes no sense for the
government to say to citizens that they are free to believe what they like and
then deem it unacceptable when citizens respond honestly when the
government requires them to state what they believe."

Human Rights Watch is the largest human rights organization based in
the United States, according to its Web site. Human Rights Watch
researchers conduct fact-finding investigations into human rights abuses in all
regions of the world. It is based in New York.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights is an independent Egyptian
human rights organization that was established in 2002 to promote and
defend the personal rights and freedoms of individuals, according to its
Web site. It is based in Cairo.

The report received considerable media attention after its release. The
Associated Press, Agence France Presse, the BBC, Reuters, and the
Voice of America all carried stories on the report.

To read HRW's summary of the report, go to this link:

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UN Committee approves resolution expressing concern


NEW YORK, 20 November 2007 (BWNS) -- NEW YORK - A committee of the
United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution today expressing
"deep concern" about "ongoing systematic violations of human rights" in

Put forward by Canada and co-sponsored by 41 other countries, the
resolution took note of repression and persecution aimed by the Iranian
government at groups ranging from women and women's rights defenders to the
news media and labor groups, as well as various ethnic and religious
minorities, including Iranian Baha'is.

The resolution passed the General Assembly's Third Committee by a vote
of 72 to 50 with 55 abstentions on 20 November 2007. The vote
essentially assures passage of the resolution in a final vote by the entire
Assembly scheduled for December.

Its passage followed a call by Iran for "no action" on the motion, a
vote that itself failed by 78 to 79, with 24 abstentions. That vote, also
taken today, was seen as an important test of the General Assembly's
will to examine human rights issues in specific countries when

"We are pleased that the General Assembly did not shy away from its
responsibility to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as
identified in the U.N. Charter," said Bani Dugal, the principal
representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"Not only for Iranian Baha'is but for other persecuted groups and
individuals in Iran, expressions of concern by the international community
such as this remain the most important source of protection and

"And it is especially important that Iran's efforts to sideline this
kind of resolution through procedural maneuvering has failed again this
year," said Ms. Dugal. "The vote against the so-called 'no action'
motion before passage of the resolution itself makes a powerful statement
about the importance of country-specific resolutions such as this."

A "no action" motion is a procedure that, if passed, will prevent
member states at the United Nations from even debating a particular
resolution. It is being increasingly used to allow countries to avoid having to
give a yes-or-no vote on politically sensitive issues, such as human
rights, and so to escape the scrutiny of the world at large, Ms. Dugal

The resolution itself clearly describes a deteriorating human rights
situation in Iran, expressing "serious concern" about "confirmed
instances" of "torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment, including flogging and amputations"; public executions, including
stoning, and the "[a] rrests, violent repression, and sentencing of women
exercising their right to peaceful assembly, a campaign of intimidation
against women's human rights defenders, and continuing discrimination
against women and girls."

The resolution also notes "increasing discrimination and other human
rights violations against persons belonging to religious, ethnic,
linguistic or other minorities" including Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds,
Christians, Jews, Sufis and Sunni Muslims and Baha'is.

Regarding Baha'is, the resolution notes particularly that there have
been "attacks on Baha'is and their faith in State-sponsored media,
increasing evidence of efforts by the State to identify and monitor Baha'is
and prevention of (Baha'is) from attending university and from
sustaining themselves economically; an increase in cases of arbitrary arrest and

The resolution also discusses "ongoing, systemic and serious
restrictions of freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and freedom of
opinion and expression, including those imposed on the media and trade
unions, and increasing harassment, intimidation and persecution of
political opponents and human rights defenders, from all sectors of Iranian
society, including arrests and violent repression of labour leaders,
labour members peacefully assembling and students."

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A true story about discrimination against Baha'is in Iran

"When Vargha Payandeh applied for college in his home country of Iran, he was turned down twice because of his religion.

"You have to get a university card in order to take an entrance exam," said Payandeh, a sophomore at the U in biomedical engineering. "I applied, but I didn't receive my card."

He went to the admissions desk to see why he hadn't received the card and was told it was because he is a member of the Baha'i faith.

Payandeh, who is originally from Tehran, received the card for a second university, but it claimed he was Christian instead of Baha'i. When he confronted someone at the school about it, the card was torn apart.

Like other Baha'i students who were denied access to a university, he eventually attended the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education in Iran.

"It was (the) year 2000 that I was admitted to it, for two years. It's an underground school -- there's no building," he said. "Classes were held in students' homes."

The institute was established in 1987, according to the Baha'i International Community. In the beginning, courses were based on instruction offered at Indiana University, which was one of the first institutions in the West to recognize the institute. Later on, course offerings were developed internally.

In 1998, the institute was subject to numerous government raids.

"We really didn't have classes most of the time," Payandeh said. "We had some introductory class where they gave us our resources and told us what to study and the next meeting would be two months later. Sometimes there was no next meeting, but a midterm or final exam."

When there was a class, Payandeh said only about four to 15 students attended and the instructor would carry a whiteboard to give the lesson.

Payandeh studied computer engineering at the institute. His educational experience in Iran gave him background knowledge to understand the material he is studying at the U, but his credits were never transferred.

The Baha'i Campus Association met with U President Michael Young last year and asked him to write a letter to the United Nations in support of the Baha'i students in Iran and if credit from the institute could be accepted at the U."

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From Iran to Utah, the passion for study burns - News