For those who understand the sacredness of humanity as one universal and united family, or even of just basic human rights, it is not a burden to be aware of the numerous injustices and atrocities abounding in the world today but it is rather an opportunity to pray and speak out for peace and justice throughout the world for all people no matter what their ethnic or national origin, no matter what their cultural, racial or religious background.
Of both long past and recent concern is the plight of the Baha’is in Iran, the historic birthplace of their faith in 1844. From that time forward the persecution of Baha’is has been both severe and wide spread with some 20,000 martyred during its earliest years. More recently seven Baha’is have each been given 20 year prison sentences.
These seven have been falsely charged by the Islamic Republic of Iran of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and of propaganda against the Islamic republic.” Their only offense to the Iranian government is of their being members of the Baha’i Faith which contradicts Iran’s agreement to abide by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and Religious Freedom. Considering the present ages of these seven the 20 year terms amount to life sentences.
Baha’ is throughout the world are known for their commitment to and promotion of world peace, justice and fairness for all people, the well being of us all and the oneness of the entire human family. There is currently an international outcry against this unjust court decision with a court appeal being insisted upon. The number of nations and international human rights organizations requesting an appeal is encouragingly large but for that appeal to realistically happen still more voices are needed.
Without listing here all of the places one can add to that outcry simply go to the following web page and click on any or all of the letter writing campaign sites: http://news.bahai.org/story/790 This site will also give additional background on this case. Also go to: http://news.bahai.org/story/791.
Fortunately for both Islam and the Baha’i Faith there is more accurate and truthful information available to any and all of us than there is of lies and untruths. We only have but to seek it out for ourselves rather than listening to the uninformed and falsely informed.
Thanks to the Imax film, “Arabia” currently showing at the Science Museum of Minnesota we can learn a few things about true Islam and by doing computer word searches on interfaith efforts like the Pluralism Project, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, United Religions Initiative and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, to name only a few, we can learn the truths of both Islam and the Baha’i Faith as well as any and all other world religions.
In today’s world this has become extremely important to avoid any of us or our neighbors becoming extremists ourselves. Understanding, respect and cooperation between peoples of all faiths is the only way peace, justice, unity and the well being of us all will ever come about. Also go to: www.bahai.org and/or www.usbnc.org for official Baha’i web sites and information on Baha’i history, beliefs, practice and social action or engagement.
David N. Sterling
Public Information Officer
Baha’is of St. Paul, Minn.