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August 8th, 2010
06:44 PM ET

7 Baha'is sentenced to 20 years in Iran, group says

Seven Baha'i leaders in Iran have each received 20-year prison sentences, according to reports received by the Baha'i International Community, the group said Sunday.

"If this news proves to be accurate, it represents a deeply shocking outcome to the case of these innocent and harmless people," said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

Word of the sentences came from an Iranian-based group called the Committee of Human Rights Defenders, according to Diane Ala'i, another Baha'i U.N representative. The Baha'i International Community is working to confirm the reports, she said.

The leaders were accused of espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations, according to the Baha'i International Community. The group denied all charges.

"We understand that (those sentenced) have been informed of this sentence and that their lawyers are in the process of launching an appeal," Dugal said in a statement Sunday.

The Baha'i leaders–two women and five men–have been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008. They are considered the nation's top-ranking Baha'is

The leaders' trial comprised six brief court appearances beginning last January, after they had been held without charges for up to 20 months, the Baha'i International Community said.

The group said the trial, during which the accused had roughly one hour's access to legal counsel, ended June 14. The verdict is believed to have been handed down Sunday, Ala'i said, though she had no details on the nature of the convictions.

Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community constitutes the country's largest non-Muslim religious minority.

The Baha'i faith originated in 19th century Persia, but the constitution of today's Islamic republic does not recognize it as a religion and considers the followers as apostates.

A U.N. State Department report released earlier this year blasted the Iranian government for its treatment of those practicing the Baha'i faith.

The report said Iran's government prevents Baha'is from gathering in homes to worship and bans Baha'is from public schools, universities, the social pension system and government leadership posts unless they conceal their religion.

"The government repeatedly pressured Baha'is to recant their religious beliefs in exchange for relief from mistreatment," the report said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baha'i • Iran • Middle East • Persecution • Politics • Religious liberty

soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Jimmy

    Something tells me the government leaders of Iran did not get enough hugs as kids, and would totally not appreciate the beauty of a random act of kindness to someone from a different culture who does not believe as they do. Sigh. We cannot police the world, but boy do these characters need a spanking.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  2. anthony W. constantino

    All Muslims are going to burn in hell. That's where all the dead muslim terrorists of 9-11 are now. Mohamed sucks Jesus rules

    August 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  3. Phatt Bastid

    Ah Islam, the religion of hate. Do you know about the coming of the 12th Imam? Yes, they never tell you about that, the bloodthirsty muslim killers that they are. You see, this is the reason why Iran want's nuclear weapons so desperately. The coming of the 12th Imam to Islam is the like the rapture is to Christianity. The more they kill of us and the quicker they kill us infidels, the sooner the 12th Imam will show up to take them all off to their heavenly reward. Make no mistake, these Muslims bastards want us dead. Either become a Muslim or die infidels, this is their crusade. Obama is just a toy of the current Iranian regeim. That black boy will do anything they say, why do you think the litte puppet sold out the Israeli's andhas done nothing about them? He's in bed with them taking it up the rectum from Ahmadinejad, make no mistake.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  4. Sword of Rostam

    Another nail in the heart of the Islamic Republic. The best way to get rid of that regime is for everyone to declare they are Bahai.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  5. drcid

    As Blurred Vision would paraphrase; "We don't need no education. We don't need your thought control. Hey Ayatollah! Leave those kids alone. All and all you're just another brick in the wall.'

    August 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      You sure need something!!! Otherwise why do you kill your own people and Others??? You better watch out GOD has warned you before and had warned you again!!! If You want to exist you better straighten out before GODS puts You out of Your Misery...

      August 9, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  6. outawork

    Since Iran wants nuclear weapons we ought to give them a live demonstration of 3 or 4 of ours.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      That would never happen because of the Oil!!!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
  7. jamesnyc

    This is the kind of crap the muslims want to bring here. That is why we don't want that mosque anywhere near Ground Zero

    August 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  8. General Dr Bad

    Your ignorance of Islam never ceases to amaze me. Stop thinking the entire world is as Stupid and Uneducated as you are.
    and good thing Iran is your ONLY Problem.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • RedRock99

      We understand completely what Islam is all about. We have been observing it's God-fearing work for decades. It's about brutality against their own kind and intolerance of others. It's about a religion that at a fundamental level can be twisted to get thousands of people (not just a few nut-jobs) to blow themselves up, killing their own people, yet be able to justify their actions under-pinned by their religion. It's about a religion that consistently shows us that hate rules over love. And, the silence from the American-Muslim community is deafening. Maybe, it's because they fear their own flock.

      August 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
  9. Enola Gaye

    Hi, my name is Enola and I'd like to teach all theocracies a lesson. Please let me off of my leash and let me do what I do best. One by one, I'll put their god to the ultimate test.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • Random

      Go ahead, live in your world of anhilation if it makes you sleep better. I wish people like you had the same fate as the innocents of war. People unconnected to government that would never pick up a weapon – just wasted away. Put the shoe on the other foot.

      August 8, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • Amy

      go for it...what's holding you back?

      August 14, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  10. stephen

    The UN is increasingly becoming a shill for Islamic states and jihadist doctrine. Their push to have any criticism of Islam branded a 'hate crime against humanity' is just a start.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • J Fairweather

      You do not seem to be aware of all the UN's condemnations of revolutionary Iran over the past thirty years. Too many to count. The purpose of the UN is to serve as an orderly forum for resolving conflicts. If it only allowed western nations to have a voice, no good could possible come from it. It is ironic that countries led by anti-American fanatics claim that the UN is nothing but a conduit for US policy.

      The irony is that if enough countries decided to become truly serious supporters of the UN's mission, UN peacekeepers would actually be able to do something to stop all the violence and injustice and UN agencies could make a serious impact in such areas as hunger, education, and medicine. Thousands of lives could be saved every year. If it were not for the UN, many more thousands would be dying than at present.

      It is the overwhelming force of self-interest that prevents the UN from being a more positive and effective force in world peace.

      August 10, 2010 at 1:08 am |
  11. Enlighten

    Where is the outrage by the Islamic people of not just America but of the whole world.
    Where is their voice.......? Silence is all I hear. Sharia Law abounds and it is against Democracy.
    In silence they try to gain our trust in America. What will happen when they gain political power.
    Who said it? We will be defeated from within. Democracy is in the balance.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • JUSTICETO ALL

      The same place where you can hear Islamic people fight to save Darfur. There killers and that is what they do best.

      August 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
    • NCpirata

      Enlighten – I completely agree. People are so concerned with being super PC to not offend anyone theyre going to end up losing their own rights to Sharia law before they even noticed it happened. When we expect a country such as Iran or Saudi Arabia to operate under rational/reasonable law we are wasting our time as they operate under Sharia Law which is a fearful and oppressive rule that ignores human rights and seeks to destroy "apostates." It has begun to happen all over europe and now in the US also. Sharia law is infiltrating our system and unfortunately will continue to untill America wakes up and recognizes the threat that is intentionally and deceptively creeping in. Theres a difference between religious tolerance and hypocritical rulings and law. In the new healthcare plan, Muslims are excluded from paying the fee/tax for not buy healthcare, this is dhimmitude of Sharia law in action in the US already. Wake up America!

      August 9, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness

      Well said. Events are unfolding (faster and faster) precisely as outlined in The Bible. It is time for the world to wake up! I can hear the sound of the white horses already.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      The Good Ones have guns to Their heads and can't do anything!!! look at the United States to where 2 percent of the People run this Country... How can you expect any difference any place else??? The Rich always take advantage of the poor and Middle Class...

      August 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  12. pmo5010

    anyone who does not adhere to the dominant religion are always going to be considered apostates, because they believe that it should be so easy to accept the "truth" and so therefore, they have already turned and betrayed the almighty of whatever dominant religion there is.

    but, needless to say, this is another testament to the "sharing" between cultures and religions that mr. ahmadinejad advocates.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • Enlighten

      Mr. Ahmadinejad is just a political tool of the Imans.

      August 8, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Why is it that some religions have to try and force Their beliefs on everyone else??? Why can They just be satisfied with Themselves instead!!!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
    • J Fairweather

      Apostacy refers to a person who turns their back on God and resigns from their religion. In this case, this refers to Muslims who became Baha'is. From a Christian perspective, it is like a Jew who accepts Christ and is executed because they will not deny their faith. In Iran, however, the main accusation is that of spiritual corruption. They believe that Baha'is are an evil influence. As bad as things are now, they were worse in the mid 1800's. Some 40,000 followers of this faith lost their lives, in most cases their murders were extremely violent – being strapped to the muzzles of cannons and blown away, being torn limb from limb by mobs, and much worse. Example – bastinado, followed by cutting away the soles of the feet, dipping the feet in boiling oil, nailing on horseshoes and forcing the victim to run through the streets. Some were stabbed clean through repeatedly, with candles placed through the wounds and lit on both ends. It was truly barbarous. If you have ever seen any of the etchings of torture in 19th century Iran, the victims were Baha'is. The current Iranian administration learned from the backlash of the early eighties and try to conceal the persecutions under the guise of court trials.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  13. Bobby

    Where's the UN condemnation of this persecution??

    August 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
    • CTOldCorps

      Why? What would hollow words from the UN matter?

      August 8, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Umm...it's up there in the article. At least twice. Reading comprehension for the win, please, Alex!

      August 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Going after Israel instead!!!

      August 9, 2010 at 11:58 am |
    • Jersey

      There won't be, there never really has been. My dad came to the US to escape prosecution for being Baha'i and to this day if you tell someone that, they have no idea who we're talking about. The sad thing is the religion is truly beautiful. They don't believe any one prophet over anyone else's, they believe that they are all right, they are all from the same God and that all humans are the exact same. I'm not religious, but in terms of tolerance, this faith is at the top of the list.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • J Fairweather

      The UN has condemned Iran for the mistreatment of these individuals and has issued condemnations of Iran's actions against Baha'is many times over the past thirty years. The same goes for the Congress. It means nothing to the Iranian government. One of the most touching incidents took place some years ago. A bunch of women were arrested for teaching sunday school classes to kids. In the middle of the night they were taken from their cells and were forced to watch as each of them was hung, one after the other. All they had to do to live was recant their faith but none were willing to do so. The youngest of them was only a teenager. Look on YouTube for Doug Cameron's song, "Mona".

      August 10, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  14. JLP

    This is exactly what we will have in this country if we allow the Muslim population to get even close to a majority. Either convert to Islam or be harrased, imprisioned or killed.

    August 8, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • Chuck Steak

      Ditto ditto ditto (and oh, did I say ditto?!)

      August 8, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
    • muir

      And with that you are no better than the rulers in Iran.

      August 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • Jimmy

      We are coming dangerously close to that with Christians in the US right now. "Believe my way or be persecuted." The sword cuts both ways.

      August 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • PAUL

      finally someone who knows what they are talking about.

      August 8, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
    • Arclight

      Exactly. Enough is enough. No more religious tolerance. Period. Back to separation of church and state. Freedom of action goes as far as the end of the next person's nose. Keep your palace of obediance to yourself and don't come near my door with pamphlet or book or towel on your head. The Unwelcome mat is open for business.

      August 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
    • Spawned

      Peace over Religion, isn't it obvious by now!

      August 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Jimmy

      You said, "We are coming dangerously close to that with Christians in the US right now. "Believe my way or be persecuted." The sword cuts both ways."

      Amen brother! I can't tell much difference between the Religious Right and the Taliban. Both would rule with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other.

      We all must vote for the Dems in November. It is our very freedom that is at stake.

      August 8, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
    • siegfried

      @david and jimmy

      there's two sides to the sword of intolerance...

      August 9, 2010 at 3:54 am |
    • siegfried

      and I'll give you a hint you both sit on the other side

      August 9, 2010 at 3:56 am |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      Between the muslin and Hispanics were are losing Our Country completely!!!

      August 9, 2010 at 11:58 am |
    • David Johnson

      @siegfried

      You said, "and I'll give you a hint you both sit on the other side"

      Yes, but my side is right and has the baby Jesus on it.

      August 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • J Fairweather

      Muslims living in the US are here because they like it here just like everyone else. Why do you think people immigrate to the US? Please remember that the majority of Iranians in the US are here because they did not want to live in revolutionary Iran. Many of them faced persecution and even death. And what about all the other waves of immigrants over the past couple of centuries? There is not one single non indigenous person living in the US who cannot trace his or her ancestry to another country.

      Chances are that someone in your past was once reviled because of his or her country of origin. Thank goodness that they were able to survive the hatred and bigotry. It is time to put such nonsense aside.

      August 10, 2010 at 12:37 am |
    • Amy

      @ Larry & @JLP....we exactly is "us"....who is the "our" you're referring to??

      August 14, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  15. PeterM

    The U.N. has a State Department? Seriously?

    August 8, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      I would love to see the United States drop out of the UN and kick Them out of Our Country!!! They do not deserve to be here...

      August 9, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • PeterM

      @Larry
      Nevermind

      August 10, 2010 at 12:53 am |
  16. Agape

    These are the most peaceful of all people. Persia (let's not call it Iran) and Mohammedans (let's not call them Muslims) are really asking for Heavenly judgement. That 9.0 Earthquake is just around the corner...

    August 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
    • Sangi

      Dear Agape: The Baha'i Faith upholds the Divine origins of Islam, of the Qur'an and exalts and teaches love for the Prophet Mohammad as it does for the founders of other Great Religions. Never do the Baha'is disparage nor accept disparaging remarks against Islam or Muslims in a broad stereotyped brushstroke. Prejudice is bad. No matter what.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:33 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Agape

      You said, "These are the most peaceful of all people. Persia (let's not call it Iran) and Mohammedans (let's not call them Muslims) are really asking for Heavenly judgement. That 9.0 Earthquake is just around the corner..."

      So you think disasters are caused by your god?

      August 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  17. rik

    Theocracies suck.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • jesus

      That;s the real problem-theocracies and those want to establish them.

      August 8, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
    • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      It just shows how much they respect Human Rights... It is about all the Countries in the World starts respecting the rights of Their People and the Other People in the World!!! Because if they don't stop their hate... GOD will put a stop of it for them!!! GOD has given them all warning... Including the United States!!!

      August 9, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

      You said, "GOD has given them all warning... Including the United States!!!"

      When did god do that? Was it on cable?

      August 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • its time

      it's time to take care of iran. they are making the world coming together.... LONG LIVE ISRAEL

      August 9, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  18. barbara

    Excuse me, you mean Islam doesn't allow other religions freedom to worship? In fact, they will imprison them for doing so? And this is the same religion that using "freedom to worship" as their entitlement to build a mosque near ground zero? We need to start putting pressure on the Muslims here, that if they want to be welcom in OUR country that they need to speak out and fight against religious intolerance in their countries.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
  19. chris

    I am terribly sick of Islam religion. They just hate everyone who are not muslims.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  20. JUSTICETO ALL

    Islamic persecution of this sect is long. They are simply too peaceful. Islam hates peaceful,people. However, they like to kill peaceful people.

    August 8, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • Jorge

      Where is UNHRC, Where is Amnesty International, why the absolute silence on the abuse that is a norm in all Muslim countries, why is it that a Muslim Republic it is all right trample on peoples beleifs, without rights for any other religion, why is it that in Saudi Arabia you cant be caught reading a Bible, even in private, that is a punishable "crime". Why is it that only Muslims have rights, even to abuse all other religions, Must be that when you have mountains of OIL, YOU HAVE A DIVINE RIGHT TO ABUSE THOSE WHO DONT

      August 8, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
      • Larry Valecia, Calif.US Army Forever...

        It is about time for all religions to start respecting each other before GODS takes care of them and makes PEACE!!!

        August 9, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
      • David Johnson

        Yes, just like the Republicans would trample on the rights of the poor and middle class. Vote the bigots out of office!!!

        August 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.