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Persecution of Bahai in Iran

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 The Bahai Martyrs

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, teaching school may be hazardous to your health, if you are of the wrong religious faith. One would hope that in the modern world the horror stories of Christians being fed to the lions and Jews and Muslims being tortured on the rack would be a thing of the past. In Iran, the nightmare world of religious persecution is alive and well.

These young women of the Baha'i faith were convicted of the crime of teaching in a Bahai religious school and hanged in Shiraz Iran on June 18, 1983.

The women, ages 17 to 57, were led to the gallows one after the other. As there is "no compulsion in religion" under Islam, it is interesting that authorities were apparently hoping that as each woman saw the others slowly strangle to death, they would renounce their own faith. A rather persuasive argument of the superiority of Islam. But according to eyewitnesses, the women went to their fate singing and chanting.

A witness confided to a Bahá’í:

“We tried saving their lives up to the last moment, but one by one, first the older ladies, then the young girls, were hanged while the others were forced to watch, it being hoped that this might induce them to recant their belief. We even urged them to say they were not Bahá’ís, but not one of them agreed; they preferred the execution.”

All of the women had been interrogated and tortured in the months leading up to their execution. Some had wounds still visible on their bodies as they lay in the morgue after their execution.

The youngest victim was Muna Mahmudnizhad, a 17-year-old schoolgirl. In prison, she was lashed on the soles of her feet with a cable and forced to walk on bleeding feet. She never wavered in her faith, even to the point of kissing the hands of her executioner, and then the rope, before putting it around her own throat.

Another young woman, Zarrin Muqimi-Abyanih, 28, told her interrogators: “Whether you accept it or not, I am a Bahá’í. You cannot take it away from me. I am a Bahá’í with my whole being and my whole heart.”

During the trial of Ruya Ishraqi, a 23-year-old veterinary student, the judge said: “You put yourselves through this agony only for one word: just say you are not a Bahá’í and I’ll see that...you are released...” Ms. Ishraqi responded: “I will not exchange my faith for the whole world.”

The other women hanged on 18 June 1983 were: Shahin Dalvand, 25, a sociologist; Izzat Janami Ishraqi, 57, a homemaker; Mahshid Nirumand, 28, who had qualified for a degree in physics but had it denied her because she was a Bahá’í; Simin Sabiri, 25; Tahirih Arjumandi Siyavushi, 30, a nurse; Akhtar Thabit, 25, also a nurse; Nusrat Ghufrani Yalda’i, 47, a mother and member of the local Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly.

All had seen it as their duty to teach Bahá’í religious classes -- especially since the government had barred Bahá’í children from attending regular schools.

Conditions have since improved for Baha'i, but they are still barred from higher education.

Source: The Bahai Question



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