In March and May of 2008, Iranian police arrested seven Bahá’í leaders and charged them with espionage, propaganda against the Islamic republic, and the establishment of an illegal administration. Their crime? Peacefully practicing their religion in a country where Shia Islam is the law of the land and those who belong to minority faiths, such as the Bahá’ís, are denied equal rights.
In June 2010, the seven Bahá’í leaders—Mahvash Sabet, Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm—were sentenced to twenty years of imprisonment. The seven have now spent more than 10,000 days in prison, with no prospect of release until 2028.
Unfortunately, this is but one example of the systematic, government-led harassment that the more than 300,000 Bahá’ís face in Iran. Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, recently described Iran as among the most “extreme manifestations of religious intolerance and persecution” in the world today.
This section will be updated as news develops on this case.