Baha'i woman recalls imprisonment in Iran
August 31st, 2010
11:10 AM ET

Baha'i woman recalls imprisonment in Iran

Minoo Vosough can still hear the guards' boots marching down the cold hallways of Iran's Gohardasht prison. The screams of other inmates burn her ears.

She can feel the thud of a fist coming down on her head. And the world going black as she was blindfolded and shoved in a courtroom to hear her fate.

She was arrested in Tehran more than 25 years ago - beaten, interrogated and thrown into solitary confinement. Once a week, she was taken out for a shower. She could tell if it was bright or overcast only by the small window high up in her cell. She cherished the chirping of birds outside.

All she had was a blanket, a spoon and a broken fork.

The Iranian regime accused Vosough of espionage, though she was never charged or afforded legal representation. Her crime in the Islamic republic, she says, was - and still is - her faith.

She is a Baha'i.

She has not spoken publicly about her terrifying experience in an Iranian jail. Until now.

This month, the spotlight again fell on Iran's 300,000-strong Baha'i community as seven national leaders were sentenced to 20 years each in prison for espionage, propaganda against the Islamic republic and the establishment of an illegal administration.

Seven Baha'i  leaders are  imprisoned in Iran's Gohardasht prison.

The Baha'i International Community says the charges are trumped up in an effort to stifle the religion, the largest minority faith in Iran. The sentences were condemned by human rights groups and by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sternly reminded Iran that "freedom of religion is the birthright of people of all faiths and beliefs in all places."

Iran denies mistreatment of Baha'is and says followers of  the faith are free to live in Iran. But it says  it considers activities against the Islamic state illegal and thus views the seven Baha'is accused of spying for  Israel as criminals.

Vosough, a petite, soft-spoken realtor in Atlanta, Georgia, has been following the story of the Yaran, as the seven Baha'i leaders are known. One, Saeid Rezaie, is a classmate from her days at Pahlavi University, now called Shiraz University.

Vosough has tried to keep her own heartbreaking memories locked in the crevices of her mind. But seeing Rezaie's gentle face, reading about the plight of the Yaran, everything came rushing back.

"I want the whole world to know what is happening in Iran," she said.

"What was my crime? What is their crime? We simply believe in our faith. Why don't we have that right?"

Stamped an infidel

Vosough was born in 1956 into an Iran ruled by the shah. Her religion was then just over a century old, founded by two prophets: the Bab (the gate) and Baha'ullah (the glory of God).

Baha'is consider Baha'ullah the most recent in a line of God's messengers that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Mohammed.

She learned from her parents and from her days at a Baha'i school about the key principle of her religion: oneness of humankind.

Baha'is had never been accepted in Iran but their station in life plunged with the arrival of the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Vosough, right, had to rent a cap and gown after Iranian authorities denied her a college diploma and a place in commencement ceremonies.

A young college student then, Vosough was forced to rent a graduation cap and gown to celebrate with her Baha'i friends after she was denied an official diploma and consequently, she was unable to land a job. These days, Baha'is are barred from enrolling in universities. Or even having a gravestone.

Vosough's father-in-law was buried with just a paper marker bearing his name and the number of the cemetery plot, she says, staring at an old color photograph of the grave.
Four gladioli lie before the crude marker. Otherwise it's hard to tell that a father lies there.

The Tehran government seemed to be looking away for a while, but repression for all religious minorities in Iran has worsened since the presidential elections of 2005 and in particular after the disputed polling last year, according to a 2010 report compiled by the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

"A consistent stream of virulent and inflammatory statements by political and religious leaders and an increase in harassment and imprisonment of, and physical attacks against, these groups has led to a renewal of the kind of oppression seen in the years immediately following the Iranian revolution," the report says.

Baha'i blood is "mobah," which means members of the Baha'i faith can be killed with impunity, the report says. Iranian authorities view Baha'is as "heretics" who may face repression on the grounds of apostasy.

Since 1979, the Iranian government has executed more than 200 Baha'is and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs, the commission's report says. Baha'is may not establish places of worship, schools, or any independent religious associations in Iran. In addition, Baha'is are barred from the military and denied government jobs.

"This is a community that has really felt the jackboot of the Iranian government," says Leonard Leo, chairman of the commission.

Vosough says the Iranian government is determined to sow prejudice against the Baha'is. Even Muslims who associate with Baha'is are often harassed by authorities, she says.

On public forms, people are asked to mark their religion: Muslim. Christian. Zoroastrian. Jewish.

There is no box for the Baha'is.

"So you are stamped an infidel," says Vosough. "You have no rights."

Making a 13-day escape

She had been married two months in 1984 when she was arrested after a family gathering. The government suspected her of "illegal activity."

Officials stopped her car and demanded documents she didn't have. There were no Miranda Rights. No lawyer. She was wrestled away to Tehran's notorious Evin prison, her family left to scour the route she took.

She was only 27 - and frightened.

Vosough at her engagement party in Tehran.

"I didn't know what was happening," she says. "In my heart, I knew I was there because I was a Baha'i."

In jail, she reflected on her faith. That gave her strength. She recited prayers and tried to count days. That kept her lucid.

She was taken to Gohardasht prison on the outskirts of Tehran and kept in a cell by herself. Later, when she was returned to Evin for her trial, she was placed in a room with 60 other women. A Baha'i woman was nursing her six-month-old baby. Vosough gave the woman her share of prison milk. The mother needed strength.

"Why should a baby be in prison?" she asks. "For what crime? Was that baby also a spy for Israel?"

After three months, Vosough was released. But she could not escape prison. She could no longer walk the streets without fear. And when she became pregnant, a panic set in.

"I wasn't going to let my child ever be in a prison like that," she says.

Or t be unable to go to school, get a job. Or do anything freely.

On a summer day in 1985, Vosough said goodbye to Iran. She took with her only a small bag with two changes of clothing for an escape that took 13 days. She and her husband traveled by the darkness of night, on horseback, on foot, over the mountains into neighboring Turkey.

The next year, with the help of the United Nations refugee agency, Vosough began a new life in the United States. She has no Iranian passport, required of all returning Iranians. Nor does she own any documentation of the life she left behind.

In her native Iran, she is more of a nobody than before.

At 53, Vosough does not know if she will ever again touch Iranian soil. Perhaps, she fears, she has already embraced her 86-year-old mother for the last time.

But in America, she says, she can practice her faith freely.

"You don't know freedom until it has been taken away from you," she says, sitting under a framed drawing of Baha'ullah¹s son Abdu¹l-Baha in her suburban home.

"It was taken away from me."

Ensuring survival

If Vosough could talk to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she would tell him one thing: "This is not what Islam promotes."

The seven Baha'i leaders imprisoned now were the pillars of their communities, Vosough says. They are even more important because the Baha'is do not follow clergy. Instead communities plan their own meetings and services.

In Iran, the seven were working to ensure the survival of their way of life in a country that does not recognize them.

"I think I survived everything pretty good," she says, a moment of acute sadness interrupting the smile that is often splashed across her face.

But she worries that her 300,000 Baha'i brothers and sisters in Iran may not.

She has felt emboldened to write to her congressmen, to push them to apply pressure on Iran.

If the world forgets, she fears, what will become of her people?

- Moni Basu

Filed under: Baha'i • Iran • Journeys

soundoff (456 Responses)
  1. Sir Craig

    Okay, earlier asinine comments notwithstanding, it became clear early into the "revolution" in Iran that they were simply replacing one despot with another when they chased the shah out and replaced him with Khomeini. The persecutions that followed were indistiguishable from what the shah had accomplished with his secret police. I believe Doonesbury even referred to it as "an experiment in religious fascism".

    What Vosough and her fellow Baha'i are experiencing is disgusting from a human rights angle, but that has never stopped a religious majority before (in this case the Islamic government of Tehran). I just wonder how many people are going to see a similar trend here in the United States with the continuing harrassment of American Muslims.

    This is why church and state should forever remain separate and the only laws allowed are those based on the US constitution, not a collection of Iron Age myths. My sympathies go out to Ms. Vosough and her family.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  2. Peace Loving Citizen

    No Holy Book teaches this.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • vanessa

      the Q'uran does.

      August 31, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • dan

      your wrong...the koran does....death to all non believers

      September 1, 2010 at 12:12 am |
    • Hmm

      13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
      13:7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
      13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
      13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
      13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
      13:11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.

      September 2, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
  3. scott

    Your Mom should be proud of you. What a good little hateful boy I raised. PS dont bother responding with religions act hateful too, I know, but so do you.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  4. John

    Hello!! Catholics were the first christians....my mother always said " is best to be thought a full than to speak and remove all doubt"

    August 31, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
  5. B Nakka

    Are you guys serious when you compare islam to christianity? There is clear evidence that islam promotes violence against any non-muslim.... show me where in the bible does it promote violence against non-christians.

    The tolerance and intolerance should be measured by their degrees. It is not a flat line question like is there tolerance or intolerance. Rather the question is and always will be how much and what forms of intolerance.

    Yes, both religions or all religions are used to people of the respective faith interpretting their religious teachings but I have not known a single christian based bombing.... or any other religion based bombing except Islam.

    Proving arguments and debating is not necessary we all know religion to some is the law and to some it does not even exist but when you bring in mass murder I would have to say Islam has been the only religion in recent years to be culpable of such crime.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • ReasonRules

      Most problems around the world are based on the fact that women have no part in your major religious doctrines. You have a bunch of testosterone driven boys riding shotgun on morality...this applies to Christianity, Islam, Catholicism...and most governments, also.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • Sir Craig

      Christian "moderates" in recent years:

      1992-1995: Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs massacre 8000-9000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica alone, and rape 200,000 women and girls throughout Bosnia and Herzogovena.

      Late 1960s-1998: The "Irish Troubles" pits Christians against Christians (Catholic vs Protestant) in Northern Ireland, resulting in over 1800 civilians killed.

      1994: Rwandan Genocide. An estimated 800,000 Tutsi are slaughtered by Hutu rebels. Primary religion: Christian. While this may not be a case of religious-based killing like the previous two, priests and bishops betrayed to the Hutus the locations of terrified Tutsi seeking refuge in churches.

      Stuff your christianity.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • LossOfReason

      "but I have not known a single christian based bombing...." Uhm....ever hear of Ireland? There the Christians are bombing each other!

      August 31, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • Alex

      The key term in your comment, sir, is "in recent years". Not to mention that many prominent Islamic authorities (countless imams, for one), condemn the actions of folks like Al-Qaeda and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Pluralism and Islam needn't be exclusive, any more than does Christianity, which you will recall does draw on the Old Testament as well as the New, and as such has some scarily intolerant things to say. For that matter, not all of the messages attributed to Jesus are terribly tolerant.

      Point is, religion isn't responsible for all of the worst things that people do in its name, either in the guise of specific religions or as general religious belief. Religious belief does facilitate certain behaviors, to be sure, in that it can promote a certain amount of dogmatism (again, this is on a case-by-case basis, guys) and intolerance, but it is only one of several things that do that.

      Finally – and this isn't directed to the comment preceding this one, but more generally – no one is burning in Hell. Hell has one main thing in common with Shiva, Ahura Mazda, Eleguá, Quetzalcoatl, and, of course, the Abrahamic god: none of these things actually exist. There probably is no god. Get over it, and go enjoy your life.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • goober

      Reasonrules, It is people/men who blocked women..."Christ Tore the vail during His crucifiction" in the temple women had to sit in the very rear behind curtains, not allowed to sit up front. When the vail was torn it meant everyone – women, free born, slave, emperor, jew, non-jew has access to God directly through Jesus Christ. People mess up religions with bad interpretations and God just shakes His head at us. God doesn't need anyone starting a crusade or inquisition to get His word out. Jesus Christ gave us a single commandment "GO" and spread the good news that salvation is come. We go with clubs, sticks, guns, cannons, knives and venom and try to force the good news down peoples throats...God is not pleased with us as He changes the hearts and minds of women and men.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam

      really? never a bombing based on christianity? how about all of the planned parenthood and other womens health facilities that have been bombed (to promote the importance of life ironically enough), not to mention the assassination of doctors... you're a moron

      August 31, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • John M.

      Actually, Christianity has had a pretty horrid history of brutal oppression of persons of the "wrong" religion. Just not recently, fortunately. But the European Wars of Religion, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the Massacre of Wassy, the Spanish Inquisition, etc. etc. Catholics versus Protestants, Christians versus Jews - killing and torture in the name of God and Christ, on and on for centuries. But it does look like we finally out-grew all that. Islam is 1400 years old. Christianity wasn't so tolerant at that age. Let's be careful about trying to argue that "my religion is more tolerant than yours," with that kind of track record. Many people have pointed out that the Bible can be read as condoning slavery, since it regulates the ownership of slaves and conduct toward them.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • Marc

      David had to present the foreskins of 1000 Philistines for one of his wives. The Judeo_Christian tradition is full of blood.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said, "David had to present the foreskins of 1000 Philistines for one of his wives. The Judeo_Christian tradition is full of blood."

      Yes, but everyone knows Philistine foreskins were quite small. So they might be worth...maybe , 200 Amerian.

      September 1, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
    • TammyB

      Well I dispute that there has not been a christian based bombing, but besides that, how about intolerance to people even of your own faith? The bible is full of passages just as bloody regarding stonings, killings, of wives, children if they do not comply with husbands/fathers; it has been used to persecute homosexuals and condemn them; organized Christianity (i.e. churches) are home to some of the most hypocritical, judgemental, and mean-spirited people ever (not ALL churches before anyone gets mad). All religions are tools people use to gain power, set down laws, and keep other people down of other beliefs. Not realizing this is being naive. Organized religion blows.

      September 1, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
  6. chris

    interesting given the few comments on here so many have managed to use it as aforum to take a shot at Christianity... I think the problem with that is Islam is not just a religion but a way of life... a law... a political structure... yeah we have some backwards christians in this country but nobody is getting stoned.. ya dig... and christianity didnt teach people to burn crosses .... racist hillbilies did that on their own accord.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Bill

      Which proves that the lady that suffered this abuse has no place in the non-religous heart. It is all about them and their opinions.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • Hrmm

      Makes those Christian Abortion Clinic bombers upset. They wanted the upper hand on religious intolerance and hate.

      The poor Christians that protest at soldier funerals. The poor Christians that tell others they will burn in hell.

      Why do these Muslims have to keep showing us up. The answer = MORE HATE!!!! Get with it Christians.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • John Toradze

      Koran says to kill heretics. Period. Oppressing them as happened to her is being nice.

      August 31, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
    • Frogist

      @chris: So Christianity is NOT a way of life? Not according to EVERY christian I've ever met. And quite frankly nothing makes the barbaric acts and the justification of those acts as "christian" any better than your average stoning. This idea that you can distance yourself from fundamentalist extremists within your religion but someone of a different religion cannot, is hypocrisy at its worst.

      August 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You preach it sister. I loved your comment!

      September 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
    • TammyB

      Racist hillbillies that used Bible text and God as the reason they were burning crosses and killing blacks. Look it up. Most KKK members profess to be true Christians and use God as the reason to keep their little race pure. Still done in the name of God, by religious extremists.

      September 1, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  7. Christian Music Fan

    We should not generalize that all religion are evil due to the misdeeds of one particular nasty religion of suicide bombers,oppression and human rights abusers. It may sound politically-correct but it is wrong

    August 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Perhaps not equally evil, just equally useless.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
    • Kraznodar

      CMF – You fail. You say we should not generalize and then you generalize. FAIL!!!!

      August 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • Tiresias

      Wait, are you talking about catholics now or muslims? I know it's easy to get them confused. Both have used bombs to make their points (IRA, Al Qaeda), oppressed their fellow man (The Inquisition, Taliban) or abused other humans (Saddam, your local priest). By all means throw those stones if your religion hasn't been used by extremists to kill people. We're waiting.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • TammyB

      It is not only politically correct, but CORRECT in general. All religions have had, and continue to have their extremists who in the name of whatever or whomever they worship will kill, maim, discriminate against, imprison, etc. those who do not believe as they do. Islam does not have the corner on that market. Remember Ireland had their own terrorists, in the name of God, just a few years back, that bombed places and people fairly often, shot people fairly often, and discriminated and imprisioned people quite often.

      September 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  8. Luis

    All Religions have their good aspects and their bad aspects.....but most of it is poisoned by the fundamentalist in each group, that is why there is war, terrrorism and oppression of others. Fundamentalism shoud be removed.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Tim

      Actually over the course of history more people have died at the hands of their governments. Tens of millions died in the last century by under atheistic dictators.

      August 31, 2010 at 11:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Ah, what the heck? Let's just remove all religions just to be on the safe side.

      September 1, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  9. Hmm...

    Doesn't a comment like this just prove that it isn't only religion that poisons everything? I think that the issue is much deeper than religion/no religion.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • et

      This is good coming out of the Bible: Exodus 31:15, Kill everyone that works on the sabbath day. Everyone at Walmart, Targer, Home Depot, Lowes, & even employees at Christain book stores open on sunday.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  10. James

    Religion is just one aspect of someone's life that can be descriminated against. It is also, only one area that can drive people crazy. I suppose all of you who are against religion because of bloodshed would want to get rid of Love because of crimes of passion?

    August 31, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
  11. scott

    The United States & Canada has peresecuted Christian religions with prison terms and concentration camps less then 100 years ago. If it wasnt for one group with over 40 supreme court victories the USA & Canada would still be doing it.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Toah

      Scott: can you please provide some facts to back up your allegations?

      August 31, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • scott

      In the United States, numerous cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses are now landmark decisions of First Amendment law. In all, Jehovah's Witnesses brought 23 separate First Amendment actions before the U.S. Supreme Court between 1938 and 1946. U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, "The Jehovah's Witnesses ought to have an endowment in view of the aid which they give in solving the legal problems of civil liberties." Wikipedia

      August 31, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Willie Guthrie

      don't remeber that in my history books, can you be specfic?

      August 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • Ryan

      Somehow I doubt what you refer to as "persecution" (which, in regards to Jehovah's Witnesses, probably amounts to ordinances designed to prevent knocking on strangers doors to promote a religion) equates to the treatment of followers of the Baha'a faith in Iran. At the least, your comparison is unfounded–at the most, its insulting to those truly persecuted.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • jess

      Please do not take anything from wikepidia as fact...I cannot tell you how many times I have gone in and changed what was stated just to see if people used it as fact in their papers....also Jehovah Witnesses were not persecuted to any extend as these people, they have practicied their religion freely in the US.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • Kristin

      Scott, Wikipedia is not a history book nor is it always accurate.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Kraznodar

      Item 1 – Wikipedia has been found to be far more accurate than most text books and encyclopedias in reviews by independent experts.
      Item 2 – Jehovah's Witnesses were, indeed persecuted for being Pacifists during WW2. These court victories are real.
      Item 3 – Numerous states issued Extermination orders to authorize hunting down and killing Mormons and certain other minority religions. Illinois removed their Extermination order within the last 5 years.

      Just because you don't like the facts does not mean they are not facts.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ty

      While it is true that many religions have suffered persecution I think the Jews have had the worst of it throughout history.

      August 31, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
    • NothnNew

      There are still Amercans who are persecuted and prosecuted for their faith and the courts sanction it; providing immunity for certain agents, including the U.S. military. In fact, once you enter the U.S. military, you have no rights.

      August 31, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
    • Deedz

      Wow Scott, that is like comparing apples to oranges....

      September 1, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • Matt

      It is still legal to kill Mormons in Kansas.

      September 3, 2010 at 4:12 am |
  12. Pam

    Minoo Vosough is a remarkable woman to have survived what she had to endure.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
    • Amanda

      After reading all the comments on this story, thank you Pam for being intelligent enough to see the point of the story.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Lee

      I agree. Remarkable.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • Lenic

      ah, the voice of reason at last...

      August 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • Ron Arnette

      I also agree.

      August 31, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said, "After reading all the comments on this story, thank you Pam for being intelligent enough to see the point of the story."

      Oh wow! That's not fair that Pam gets an attagirl! I saw that point a long time ago. I just thought it was to obvious to post.

      September 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • Deedz

      Yes, I agree. Some people like to ramble on and on.

      September 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  13. Century21

    And they wonder why so many people are suspicious of Islam. The lack of religious freedom in Muslim countries is widespread and appalling. If only more non-westernized Muslims would speak out against the human rights abuses of their co-religionists.

    August 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  14. Big Bob

    And don't forget, it's only a handful of extremists that give the religion of peace a bad name. ; D

    August 31, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • The Number

      Too true, Big Bob. It is the same type of extremists that makes the US look bad to the rest of the world. There really isn't a difference between the American haters and the Muslim haters.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
    • vanessa

      The Q'uran does a pretty good job of it too. I read it– Islam is a HORRIBLE religion. It is NOT about peace– not even a little bit.

      The whole purpose of Islam is to kill and degrade non-Islamic people.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • wally

      It's not really a religion of peace. There are a few 'cult-like' offshoots that practice peace but Islam, in general, is not a religion of peace. Those who say it is, do not understand Islam.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • John Toradze

      No. That is the big lie. The "extremists" ARE the only true muslims, and they are the mainstream, not some small bunch of nutballs. The big lie is that islam is a religion of peace, love and brotherhood. Nothing could be farther from the truth. History, doctrine, (koran) the life of mohammed (sira) and the stories of islam (Hadith) all agree. Kill the infidel, enslave the infidel, rape the infidel, kill the heretic. Koran says that all heretics must be killed. It's right there, and there is nothing that goes against that.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • John Toradze

      For the moderators – I can cite you chapter and verse, and many expert opinions for what I wrote. You can do a google search on ReligionOfPeace and others as well. The ideology is absolutely clear. The question is only whether or not muslims do it.

      August 31, 2010 at 6:23 pm |
    • 9mil

      Wrong big Bob. The religion of peace, Islam, is what gives the religion of peace, Islam a bad name.

      August 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • Joe

      The problem Bob is that one of that minority was the prophet Mohammad, who regularly treated non-Muslims much worse than Iran treats non-Muslims. Fortunately the majority of Muslims do not behave like their prophet. The 'few troublemakers' theory is one we use in the west to feel better about the situation. The reality is that few troublemakers are the real followers, while the ones you and I can live peacefully with are the compromised western pseudo-Muslims.

      September 1, 2010 at 1:22 am |
    • David Johnson

      @The Number

      You said, "It is the same type of extremists that makes the US look bad to the rest of the world. There really isn't a difference between the American haters and the Muslim haters."

      You have discovered a great truth, my brother. I have preached on this for many weeks

      There is no difference between the Taliban and the Christian Right. They both would rule with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other. Cheers!

      September 1, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  15. Che

    Not very different then what happens to muslims in America...their only crime being they are Muslims....

    August 31, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
    • jay

      if you are not happy in this wonderful country go back to where you came and be in peace there.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • Bob

      What you don't know about America is a lot. Maybe you didn't read the entire article. Muslims walking the streets of America are not picked up and thrown into prison because they don't have their papers, for example. It is true though, that because of the intolerance shown by many Muslims towards other faiths (this article, for example) , many of those of other faiths do not like them specifically BECAUSE they show so much intolerance.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Ruth

      When exactly were Muslims thrown into jail just for being Muslim? Bunch of terrorists!!!

      August 31, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Ryan

      Actually, its totally different.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • DeeInFL

      Have to agree with you. We criticize other countries for their religious intolerance and here we in this nation, that is suppose to embrace all religions, doing the exact same things that other countries get criticized for! Just a bunch of hypocrites!

      August 31, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Justice

      Yes,...when were moslems picked up & thrown to jail in the USA? If you hate this country, just go back where you belong!!!

      August 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kraznodar

      I notice that the Nazis and KKK didn't like your post. I do think you exaggerate. People like me will take up arms and hunt the religious right before we allow the constitution to be destroyed so no it isn't much like Iran and the Baha'i really.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • cc

      Just read these comments Che and you will see just how right you are.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • physnchips

      No, you're wrong, but only in your profiling. You must be confused with what they are trying to do in Arizona, pick up any hispanic looking person and toss them in jail. Before anyone says some stupid comment to me, such as, "Go back to where you came from!" I come from the US. I don't like it, but doesn't mean leave my country, that means make my country better because there are a lot of things I'm proud about that I'd like to keep; however, racial profiling is not one of them.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
      • Frogist

        @physnchips: You are so right. I virtually shake your hand across the internet.

        August 31, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
    • tjkenny

      You lazy, liberal slug. You don't like life in America, .....there's the door.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
    • Chris

      To those of you who keep on saying "when were moslems ever picked up in this country and simply thrown in prison for their religion" it did happen under the Bush Administration. It was the NSEERs program. Any individual from the set of muslim countries who did not come forward and register under this program (because their original country of origin was a high threat) was subject to criminal prosecution and even deportation (even though these people had played by all the rules and came here legally). There are hundreds of cases in the federal court of appeals were individuals were recklessly prosecuted because of their national origin and religion. It makes the U.S. nothing more than a hypocrite. Iran may persecute its Bahai but at least it is not a hidden fact. Whereas, in the U.S. on the other hand, we persecute our muslims and tell the rest of the world to "respect" freedom of religion. In essence, the rest of the world doesnt need to respect freedom of religion they just need to get a better PR coordinator.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
    • Xugos

      Why do we have to bring muslims into everything? I'm a muslim, and I wouldn't rather live anywhere else than America. People who cry about discrimination are usually just looking for hand outs, get off your behind and work hard, and you'll find that America will accept you just fine.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
      • 9mil

        You would probably be better off in an Islamic Republic away from all the worthless Americans. Please move so you do not get corrupted.

        August 31, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
    • John Toradze

      On long and careful reflection and study, being a muslim should be a crime in America. It is not a religion. It is a war cult that is absolutely opposed to everything America is about.
      PS – I am for gay rights and marriage, single payer health care, and voted for Obama. I was raised a Unitarian. But I learned about cults first hand, and I know one when I see one now. Islam is a cult.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
      • The JillyBean

        Jews and Romans thought followers of Christ were cultists too. to put it into historical perspective. 🙂

        August 31, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
    • Momo

      It happened after 9-11. IT wasnt every muslim targeted but a select few... ever hear of extraordinary rendition?

      August 31, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
    • Wendy

      1. The comments about how Che needs to return to his/her original country are just ridiculous; who says this ISN'T the original country?
      2. If you don't have any criticism about the country you live in, then you're just a blind sheep who might as well live in one of those countries that strip you of your right to complain. Just as you have the right of speech to tell Che to get out of here, Che has that same right to say whatever he/she wants! Also, nothing's perfect, not even the "great" United States of America.
      3. You don't know that Muslims aren't just being picked off the streets and thrown into jail. Do you work for the government? Do you know what goes on in EVERY single prison? Furthermore, that isn't the only way we've shown intolerance to Muslims. If you read the news, you would know that during the immediate months following 9/11 people who remotely LOOKED Muslim were being targeted for hate crimes.

      Get your facts straight before you leave idiotic comments on here.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • Mike

      Che is a moron. If you are a citizen, please renouce your citizenship and move to wherever you consider paradise. If you are not a citizen, please leave now. Every minute you stay is an admission you are lying.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • lola

      right, that's why they keep coming here. you ignorant idiot

      August 31, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
    • wasabiwahabi

      Yer fulla s..t!

      August 31, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
    • JustSaying

      Clearly Che you have never lived in a Muslim controlled country – go live there on the economy for at least a year and then come back here and say that – you won't be able to.

      August 31, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
    • Marvin W.

      "On long and careful reflection and study, being a muslim should be a crime in America. It is not a religion. It is a war cult that is absolutely opposed to everything America is about."

      John Toradze is EXACTLY right !!!

      August 31, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
    • Saman Ahmadi

      a Muslim in America has every right a Christian does. In Iran, a Baha'i does not have the same rights a Muslim does.

      August 31, 2010 at 7:03 pm |
    • JesusLovesYou

      Yep, "if you don't like this country – then there's the door" . Who're you talkin' to – the Native Americans of yesteryear? Maybe the Blacks when they were slaves? Or maybe women – before they could vote? Let me guess – white male, are you???

      August 31, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  16. Buster Bloodvessel

    They are only doing what the Holy Book tells them, same as Christians when we burn a cross on your lawn. Right, guys?

    August 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
    • tnusagirl

      The burning cross has nothing to do with Christian faith. The burning cross was not even used by the origianl Klan – it was adopted by the Klan when the 1915 screen feature of The Birth of a Nation, when Griffin used a Latin cross instead of a St. Andrews cross (a Scottish tradition). Maybe get your facts before you start spewing your hatred.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm |
  17. John

    If Vosough could talk to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she would tell him one thing: "This is not what Islam promotes."

    August 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • JennyTX

      And he wouldn't listen.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
    • John Toradze

      The real problem is that she is completely wrong. Islam absolutely does say to kill heretics. It says to conquer, kill, enslave and utterly subjugate all infidels. And that is exactly what mohammed said. I like Bahai' because it is a real religion, not a cult. Islam is a cult, a cult of war.

      Study it. You will know then.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • Chut Pata

      She is wrong, her problem was not her faith. Her likes were part of the Iran's secret police Sawak that tortured and killed millions of Iranians for rising against Shah the Butcher. Despite all American support, the butcher had to flee the country for his life. All criminals had to pay for their crimes. Those who took lives, paid for with their lives.

      August 31, 2010 at 6:10 pm |
    • Ladislav Nemec, Big Bear, CA

      Muslims just love to be told by non-Muslims what Islam is. They listen and immediately correct their mistake. Where? In some parallel universe.

      Very misleading title of the article. Their 'crime' is not their faith but the fact that the Religion of Peace, according to two our our Presidents, consider THEIR faith the only acceptable one. So, the place for infidels is either in hell (after the heroic act of killing them and getting in better grace with Allah) or, at least, to put them in prison.

      Some Religion of Peace!

      August 31, 2010 at 6:32 pm |
    • 9mil

      Islam DOES promote this. Where else do they get the ideas??

      August 31, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
    • MrsFizzy

      Interesting, Chut. Maybe that explains it although doesn't justify it – even Jews get official recognition and Baha'i's do not. Of course that's a side of it we're unlikely to hear. It sounds totally at odds with their religion – but then, maybe so are the acts of some "Muslims"!

      August 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • Asha

      John Toradze, you refute Islam and revere the Baha'i Faith in the same post, and this is not acceptable to Baha'is because we accept the truth spoken by all of God's Prophets, including Muhammed (pbuh). One could judge Christianity the same way, based how the church and its armies behaved during the Crusades and at other times, but we look to the teachings of Jesus Christ and not the actions of His followers. For us, the fundamental commandment in this Revelation is to strive to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization in unity and peace; in all the teachings of past Prophets this is a desire but now we clearly know it to be an unquestionable objective.

      September 1, 2010 at 1:19 am |
    • Joe

      What Islam promotes is written clearly in the Koran and Hadiths. Non-Muslims are to be subject to muslims. They are to pay Muslims a special tax to live among them, or be killed.

      September 1, 2010 at 1:25 am |
    • herewego

      Asha – I don't think you get it.. if you follow something unquestionably then you are not being true to Krishna (also listed as one of you "Prophets"). Because Arjun did question him – in fact he asks Krishna in Chap 4 of Gita "How do I know what you are saying is true?" Questioning is sine qua non of spiritual exploration.

      Instead of making coffins for the dead.. you are in the business of cutting the dead according to the coffins you have already made!

      September 1, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • reddycs

      Sad story indeed reminds of the days when Hindu's in India were persecuted in a similar way by the Islamic Invaders...I actually had the priviledge of visiting a 'Bahai Temple' I really felt at peace...these are good people who want one human kind...what a powerful message...I wish we all could get along. Historically a majority of religions have had a violent streak..this includes Christianity...however there was a revolt from within Moderate Christianity to stop it....Where are all the Moderates in Islam? Why aren't they speaking out at this outrage in Iran? Islam can only change from within...where are all those Moderate peace loving Muslims? Unless they speak up we will never see a change during our life time....

      September 2, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • bruce

      Asha, you wrote this "because we accept the truth spoken by all of God's Prophets, including Muhammed (pbuh)." and then you wrote this "but we look to the teachings of Jesus Christ ". Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"... Muhammed doesn' t teach this, so you can't have it both ways.

      September 2, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  18. Waldorf and Statler

    Love how she's still going to hell after all of that because she's still believing in the wrong one. Haha tough luck!

    Isn't that right, christians?

    August 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Actually no that is not correct by Catholic standards. Her giving her milk to the nursing woman in prison is just one (of many) sure sign that her reward will be in heaven.

      You might want to consider reading the Catholic Catechism.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • Waldorf and Statler

      Gave it a read just now, remembered that I gave some fruit to my friend who wanted some this morning for breakfast at work, guess I'll have a place in heaven now too! Changing my mentality is great! Now I'll be in heaven! 🙂 Religion is sure awesome.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • Joe Black

      In what part of the Bible's New Testament have ever read the ward "Hell" The only hell we all suffer is the hell we bring to our self's! Is she going to hell? I think she has already been there because Islam put her there, not Christians.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Ryan

      Waldorf, you're clearly smarter than the rest of us. You have cracked the mystery of religion. Whereas billions and billions of people over the course of the history of the world have been so wrong, you, in your infinite wisdom, are hear to show us the error of religion, in all of its forms, via posting on a cnn article.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
      • Sahar

        LOL. I love it

        August 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jake

      Doing good things doesn't mean you'll get to heaven. The Bible doesn't say that anywhere. The Catholic Catechism is not divinely inspired by God and infallible as the Bible is.

      Isaiah 64:6 says: "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
      We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."

      So you and me are not good people, we're evil by nature and by action. The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8,9 says clearly: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

      I suggest you take a look at http://www.persecution.com/

      I don't think CNN has the guts to report on these stories. They cover non-Christian religious persecution for the most part.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
      • JT

        I'm kind of partial to this little gem.

        Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

        August 31, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
        • MrHAnson

          The Psalmist is in exile and had probably witnessed the atrocities committed against his people, babies included. In the revenge-style that was so common at the time, he wishes the same upon his enemy as a description of their utter destruction. Nowhere does it say that God approves of the Psalmist’s request or that he fulfilled it. Just because it is recorded that the Psalmist wrote the imprecation, doesn’t mean it was approved by God.

          Therefore, the Psalmist is expressing his curse against Babylon, a natural response to what his people have already suffered.

          August 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
      • vickie tedrick

        We need to remember Jesus Christ is love not hate. One day every knee shall bow and every tounge confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD ! And everyone will be held accountable for thier selves includeing me. It's a daily walk with The LORD we must walk .A narrow walk . But I will tell you this from experience, There is nothing sweeter than Jesus. He gives me peace ,joy , strength , and power while I'm on this earth. Oh taste and see ,the Lord is good. Try Jesus !

        August 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
        • Jessica

          I cant tell if this was SARCASM or SCARYCASM. either way...just so you know, i've tried Jesus...and it just wasn't what I thought and hoped for. Sure it all sounds great, until you realize the company you keep HERE ON EARTH, the whack jobs you must rub elbows with just arent worth the narrow walk. as Ghandi once said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, they are so unlike your christ"...AMEN Ghandi, Amen!

          August 31, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
        • Cattleclass

          Good comment...

          August 31, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
        • Jimi

          Jesus Saves (When He Shops At Wal-Mart!)

          August 31, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
      • AK

        Yessir, 'em Cat'lks ere all gonna burn in Hail. Mah Parster tole' me so...said nosir, Ah din't hev ta finish ayth grade, jes' be b'leeving whut'n he tole' me n'my sister when he hitched us up...

        Yessir, mah Vangerlilical Penicostal Jaysus is bettern' yore Jaysus....way better....

        August 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • Mark from Las Vegas

      You don't know that she isn't going to heaven. God makes that decision. Don't judge other people.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
      • JT

        If you're a Christian then you believe all non-Christians are destined for hell because they were duped by the wrong religion. All those billions of idiots have got it wrong. Poor suckers! Just for being born in the wrong country, culture and family...too bad.

        August 31, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
        • jamshid

          jt you sound like the extremest in any religion. follow mine or you will perish. your words have just been made useless.

          August 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
        • Mike Malley

          Hello to jamshid, When the west finally gets its bases to surround whats left of persia, the act will come. It will be at our time & place. persians in this country will be put in camps and hopefully you will be shot first, Hey boy, try to nuke the home of God, oh my, goodby women killers by court, so long bearded ones, OUR day will come...

          August 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
        • Salvatore

          I think Jamshid was saying that jt, as an anti-religious person, sounded just as bad as the fanatic religious people. And then you didn't understand so you spewed hate at him. I think recess is over now, you may have your cookie and milk in the corner. 🙁

          August 31, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
        • JT

          Huh? Sorry, but please expand.

          August 31, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
        • Kristin

          Christians calling non-believers idiots make non-believers want to stay that way. It also makes Christians like myself pretty angry. You make a bad name for the rest of us.

          August 31, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
        • Laura

          Amen! Jesus Christ is ashamed of His followers like these.

          August 31, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
        • Salvatore

          JT... Christainity states that if you are privy to the word of the Jesus and turn it away you are damned. If you have never heard the words of Jesus you are spared... Get your facts right or you look like a conformist follower with no real understanding of what you speaketh.

          August 31, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
      • Jake

        God has revealed to us in His Word who is going to heaven and who isn't:
        "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." -1 Corinthians 6:9-11

        Jesus Christ offers salvation to all who would ask forgiveness of their sins and turn to him for salvation. That's the only good news out there for jacked up people like me. Every other religion teaches you must get to God. Christianity teaches God came to us and offered himself up for the sins of the world.

        August 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  19. JohnQuest

    Sounds like Gitmo to me

    August 31, 2010 at 11:42 am |
    • FauxNews

      Better than Gitmo because she was able to get out.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
      • Frogist

        @Faux News: Oddly enough that's what I was thinking while I was reading it too. No Miranda rights, no lawyer and no way out... We as a country should feel ashamed to be using the same tactics as Iran.

        August 31, 2010 at 9:22 pm |
    • BigChainRing

      Sounds like Gitmo? Really? Are you telling me Gitmo guards rape women before their execution because its against Islam to execute a virgin? At Gitmo they put parents in one cell and then beat their children in the adjacent cell so the parents can hear the child's screams? I suppose the liberal "gotcha" media is hiding that too.

      August 31, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • steve

      For the most part, this is the most pathetic grouping of comments I have ever seen on CNN concerning a serious issue.

      Can't you get your jollies elsewhere?

      August 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Marc L from NY

      Yeah, sounds just like gitmo, except gitmo detainees are terrorists or suspected terrorists. Except gitmo exists to protect us from actual threats.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
    • BK

      You have no f...ing clue what you are talking about. Spend one day here and there and we will compare the notes.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • TomColt

      Sounds like Gitmo to you? Why would you want to compare these innocent Ba'hai people to people captured on the battlefield? Is it to pardon you from not helping them? Cowards always have excuses, just not very good ones.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Gitmo guard

      Unless you've been to gitmo you can't comment on it I've been there and what she went through is nothing like what's going on in gitmo. Get your facts straight before you comment. I didn't hear her say she played ps3 or xbox while she was there because that's what going in gitmo. Because people like you think the detainees over there are being abuse daily and there not. So please STFU about gitmo because all your facts are from the news.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • JonnJonzz

      I don't care. Why do all the world's rejects have to come to the U.S. All Iranians hate the U.S. We are not the world's dumping ground.

      August 31, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  20. David Johnson

    Golly, this religion thing is getting out of hand...

    A wise man once said, "Religion poison everything". – C. Hitchens

    I think there is evidence to support the theory that Islam is not the tolerant religion they claim to be.

    Baha'is consider Baha'ullah the most recent in a line of God's messengers that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ and Mohammed.

    WoW, Jesus was a messenger? But a fundie told me... LOL

    August 31, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • Ron

      Don't miss Charles Krauthammer'a excellent column. "nationalreview.com"

      August 31, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
    • shilpy

      quote from article: "If Vosough could talk to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, she would tell him one thing: "This is not what Islam promotes."

      Quite obviosly, ms. vosough learned little about islam despite her long ordeal. let me help: no, ms. vosough, it is islam.
      the day islam is buried – like nazism was – is the day the world breathes easy, much easy

      August 31, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
      • The JillyBean

        I'm sure the people of the Americas that were coerced into Christianity had the same sentiment toward the christians over the last 500 years. 🙂

        August 31, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • ProgressiveFail

      shouldn't that be "A dead man once said" and I doubt he really said exactly that, the grammar is too poor.

      August 31, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
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About this blog

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.