Baha'is lobby U.S. commission to help them survive in Iran
Sina Sabet Sarvestani, Iraj Kamalabadi, Azadeh Rohanian Perry and Kamal Khanjani (from L-R), realatives of Baha i prisoners in Iran, tell their stories before The US Commission on International Religious Freedom
February 11th, 2011
07:29 AM ET

Baha'is lobby U.S. commission to help them survive in Iran

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Washington (CNN) - It is a bad time to be a Baha'i in Iran, American adherents of the faith say.

The religion, founded in Iran in 1844, is now considered heretical by Iranian authorities. Its 300,000 adherents in the country "may face repression on the grounds of apostasy," according to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

On Wednesday, Iraj Kamalabadi and other Baha'is came to Washington to tell the commission just how bad things are for his sister, Fariba Kamalabadi, and six others who have been imprisoned because of their faith since 2008.

Iraj Kamalabadi was born in Iran and came to the United States for college. He stayed in the U.S. after the Iranian revolution for fear of religious persecution in his homeland. Now he is petitioning his adopted home government to step up the pressure on Iranian authorities.

"Our hope is for the commission to continue to support this within their power and do whatever they could do to shed light on what's going on in Iran with the Baha'i community," he said.

Kamalabadi and others met with the commissioners and reporters to tell their story of how their family members who were Baha'i leaders were arrested, tried and imprisoned on what they called "trumped-up" charges of spying for the United States and Israel.

The Commission on International Religious Freedom is an arm of the federal government. Its commissioners are appointed by the White House and Congress and charged with reviewing violations of religious freedom abroad. They then make recommendations to the president and Congress.

"When the Iranian government brought these trumped-up charges of espionage and other so-called crimes against your brethren, we were outraged but we also were not surprised," said Leonard Leo, the commission chair. "The Iranian government has a horrific record of abusing human rights and in particular the religious freedoms of minorities in Iran and in particular the Baha'is."

In spring 2008 Fariba Kamalabadi was arrested, her brother said. A developmental psychologist by trade, she was a volunteer leader in the Baha'i community. She was convicted in a short trial, "without a shred of evidence," and sent to an extremely primitive prison, Iraj Kamalabadi said.

In his conversations with his sister since, she has described brutal prison conditions. In one wing of the prison there are 177 women and only 37 cells. Two women sleep in bunk beds and the others on the floor, the quarters so tight they cannot even stretch out their legs, Kamalabadi said.

According to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, Baha'is believe the world's religions are linked in a single progressive process and through them all God reveals his will to all people. The founder of their faith, Baha'u'llah, is believed by Baha'is to be the most recent messenger of God in a string of messengers that includes Abraham, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and others.

And that is where the conflict exists between the Baha'i faith and the religiously devout Islamic Republic of Iran.

"The Baha'i s were Muslim. They created a new form of religion as Muslims. From an Islamic point of view they have renounced their faith," said Gary Sick, an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

"It's an Islamic state. If you renounce your religion in the U.S., then that has nothing to with the government. If you have a state like Iran that is governed by clerics and a constitution that defines itself as an Islamic state, then it matters to the state," he said.

In the Iranian Constitution, Sick said, "Iran provides respect for religion for Christians, Jews and on and on but they don't mention Baha'is."

The Baha'i faith has long faced persecution in Iran, according to Anthony Vance, the director of external affairs for the Baha'is in the United States. He joined the group at their meeting with the Commission on International Religious Freedom. There are no professional clergy in the Baha'i faith but in areas where there are a large number of the faithful, members elect a national spiritual assembly who provide guidance and perform religious ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. Vance said such an assembly was formed in Iran in 1979. They
disappeared without a trace, he said.

"Eight of the nine assembly members who replaced them were arrested and executed," Vance told the commission. In 1983, he said, Iranian authorities banned any type of Baha'i administration and no formal leadership has existed in the country since.

Informal groups emerged that the government eventually communicated with. Fariba Kamalabadi was in that informal leadership group.

Iran, denies mistreatment of Baha'is. It also has said repeatedly that followers of the faith are free to live in Iran, but that the seven imprisoned leaders participated in illegal activities against the government.

"It is important for us to cast a light on what is happening." Leo said. "It is outrageous and it is the kind of violation of international human rights standards the international community needs to come down on very hard."

Iraj Kamalabadi hopes his visit with the commission will keep pressure on Iran and keep a spotlight on the plight of his sister and the others. "I don't have the solution in my power," he said. "The ultimate solution would be for the government (of Iran) to stop persecuting the humanitarian-minded Baha'i who have committed no wrongdoing."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baha'i • Belief • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Muslim • Persecution • Religious liberty

soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Text Message Marketing,SMS Marketing

    I enjoyed this web site. I found the comments interesting. I will visit this site again. Good read. Thanks.

    November 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  2. Rob Anderson

    I came accross http://bahaiworldnews.com while seeking out companies in the area. If you are looking to liquidate office furniture, inventory, supplies, or anything for that matter, we are definitely interested! I represent a nationwide liquidation company, and can help you turn your old stuff into cash. Don't throw or give away anything until you speak to us. If you have no need to liquidate right now, keep my contact info, if the time comes, or if you know of somone, please give me a call. We can buy just about anything, and give you cold hard cash! Thank you,
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    March 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  3. Sulayman F

    I don't support the oppression of religious minorities. (Heck, I'm a minority in my own country).

    However, it should be pointed out that the reason many Iranians distrust Bahais is that the group generally supported of their previous dictator, the Shah. Some of them enthusiastically support Israel, who threatens to bomb Iran as well. It's a vicious circle that grows over time, discrimination leads to disaffected people which triggers terrorism which leads to more discrimination.

    February 24, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • mr_stinky

      Seems like a fair conclusion, but keep in mind that most of your examples are just excuses used by the Iranians to punish people who think differently than they do. Unlike religious discrimination which exists in every country, the persecution of Ba'hais is tolerated and even promoted by the government.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  4. Is this really "reality"?
    February 22, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  5. BuddyKowalsk

    My question is why do we spend money on a commission on international freedom. Let their "god" protect them. Here is a budget cut on a plate.

    February 17, 2011 at 6:13 am |
    • Kaath

      We have such a commission because without such oversight, governments can run roughshod over the rights of their citizens. This includes, of course, American citizens. I see you have a Polish surname. I'm also Polish-American, I think the several million Poles slaughtered by Stalin would have appreciated it if such a commission of caring peoples had been there to stay the dictator's hand.

      Our God (which is the same God other religions pray to) tasks us to love for and care for one another, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion and to stand up for oppressed people everywhere regardless of the cost.

      October 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  6. Dr. rocco

    Bahai = Evil look at the symbolism on their Art, they are a cult of psychological orphans, trying to steal your souls people. The one true religion they say, then give me all your money. I know these people, real jerks

    February 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Patrick

      The Bahais don't profess themselves as the one true religion. In fact that is probably the core belief that separates them from most other religions. They also refuse donation from outside sources, and openly promote for their children to seek out information from other religions if they find them more appealing. Your baseless trolling is a perfect example of the roots of religious intolerance. I know you're just doing it because you think it is fun to make people angry, but there are plenty of ways to make people angry other than making statements exposing your own ignorance.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Aimee

      You know that the words are read backwards right? So actually if you think about it, it says LIVE.

      May 12, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Kaath

      Erm, the "word" you read as "evil" is a calligraphy of the phrase "God is All-glorious" rendered in the shape of a ship. It is read, in Arabic from right to left. Which as another respondant points out would make it "live" in English.

      Also, only Baha'is can give to the Baha'i funds, and we do not pass the plate or insist that people give a certain amount. What is important is universal participation, not the amount one gives (which is, by they way, known only to the giver and the treasurer of his or her community. The amount of contribution is left entirely up to the believer.

      Apparently, you do not know "these people" as well as you think?

      October 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  7. Muneef

    Do not know much about those and surely will read more about them but here their link I found if you want to read;


    February 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Glory Faith

      Also read and studies on this website, too! http://www.jesuscult.com/Exiles.htm

      September 5, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  8. Evolved DNA

    Catholic mom.. the very existence of this commission shows that religion has failed. They all peach love and understanding and tolerance but still need a policeman to keep them from trying to annihilate one another. usually the greater threat comes from within the religions doctrine..Islam will kill, or advocates it at least, any one of its adherents who wants to switch to say Christianity or to be come atheist say Your church will allow abuse with in its ranks and hides the evidence, it would never allow a gay or a woman to aspire to its top positions. Again, i ask why if these non tax paying ent-ities want society to help them keep their peace.

    February 12, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Evolved DNA,

      As long as there are people, there will be differenes of thought.

      It appears that some people wish to force their thoughts onto others and so a Commission is just a ‘safety measure’ put in place to prevent bloodshed.

      I would not like a government or a religious group or non-religious group whose thought would be to abolish freedom of thought and conscience from the face of the earth.

      The greatest threat to freedom of thought and conscience comes from a government [or group of people] that becomes ‘all powerful’ and at the same time, one that is NOT ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.'

      My Church does not have to ‘blend in’ with all the ones who do not believe the way we do just so ‘all are the same’ in thought. People can go and make their own community to do as they please and no one will stop them here in our country. These people who think they need their way with each and every religious group can just go and form their own religious group and have their way with it. ….and if a commission is needed to preserve this freedom of thought and consciences, so be it.

      February 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      catholic mom..I still see no need for this. When I hear the words religious freedom it usually means that the particular religion has badmouthed a particular group, and has had some bad press. Look at Islam that is trying to enact blasphemy laws to prevent people from criticizing it. I am sure your church would also like to have some rules in place that prevent discussion and criticism of the pope and the recent horrendous abuse cases. Religions should not be able to discriminate and hide behind so called privilege.. case in point Gay people who can be chastised with impunity by religious folks under the name of religious freedom. If you want a commission. then religions should be taxed and pay for it.. your church alone is worth billions and still pleads for charity.

      February 13, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Evolved DNA,

      The Church is not trying to enact laws to prevent people from criticizing the Church. She knows that persecutions will come because the world does not know Her and hates what it does not know. The Church is not hiding behind some kind of privilege as you call it….The Church does not chastised gays or straights….just calls out actions that are sinful.
      People love to speculate what the Church is worth and then hate Her for it. I have always wondered when people say that someone is green with envy…do they mean green…like in ‘money’?

      February 13, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • Kaath

      @Evolved DNA: if religion had failed as utterly as you say, we would have already destroyed ourselves. That it has had an effect on our little animal brains is apparent in the fact that there are many believers who have heeded the commandment to love one another whether it came from Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad, Baha'u'llah, or any other Messenger.

      If Christ, for example, teaches love and we find "rational" reasons for hate, is that Christ's fault or ours? If Christ says, "This is the way a Christian behaves" and I fail to embody that behavior, can I truly call myself a Christian? To put this in less emotionally fraught terms—is a vegetarian someone who doesn't eat meat or someone who says he doesn't eat meat, but does anyway?

      Rationally, isn't blaming religion for what we've done with merely another way of passing the buck?

      October 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  9. Ace

    Bahai is not a religion.
    It's a marketing scam!

    All other religions are respected in Iran and have no problems. Iran has the highest number of jews in the ME after Israel. Chrisitians, Armenians & Assyrians, have been part of Iranian culture since 500 years ago. Zoroastrians are the oldest Iranian culture dating back to 7000 years ago. They all have representatives in the parlimant.

    Stop spreading lies!

    February 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Sofya

      You're not really that religiously tolerant yourself eh?
      The Baha'is stress the unity among all religions and tolerance towards all.
      What makes a religion a religion according to you? Founded over four centuries ago? Sorry a religion can't control when it decides to form.
      Not make money off of believers to use to build new places of worship or use to found a charity? Sorry then according to your belief neither Christianity nor Judaism nor Islam nor any other religion is truly a religion.
      It is people like you who spread hatred that necessitated this meeting.

      February 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Patrick

      It is a wonder that such a supposedly greedy group would refuse donations and funding from outside sources and hold community service for the benefit of all people as a form of worship. Your inflammatory comments have no basis in reality.

      February 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  10. Rima Hays

    Since the birth of the Baha'i faith, it is noteworthy to observe that the followers of this religion have been strictly apolitical and honorable in their dispositions. Not only in Iran but in nearly each and every corner of the world. Now we and the sane world are observing with horror that a theocracy (whelped by foreign powers) in Iran is brutalizing, tormenting, torturing and murdering them openly without any global organization related to Human Rights blinking their eyes. The cruel and murderous mullah regime has gone so far as to even encourage in the desecration of their graves. Whether the puppet and much despised regime likes it or not the great Iranian People will rise up and violently crush them. That time is not far away. Within months that will come. These are the same mullahs who ordered their pathetic mouthpiece; Ahmadinejad (Ahmaghinejad) to even deny the holocaust which was a direct assault against mankind; where more than six million innocent Jews were murdered by uncivilized and barbaric Germans. Most pathetically the Germans (Goths, Visigoths, Bastarnaes, Ostrogoths et.al) were "baptized" as Aryans!!! by Adolf Schickelgruber (Hitler), who was recently reported in Haaretz newspaper to have had Jewish DNA! The cowardly Deutch speaking people were NOT are NOT Aryans.

    Iran means "The Land of the Aryans" and NOT the Deutch speaking people.
    Very soon the cowardly and criminal mullahs will be denying the fact that they murdered well over 200000 (TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND) Iranians under the pretext of their brand of Islam which had ordained it so. Their leader; the arch satan Khomeini appeared to be everything except divinely inspired....everything except an Iranian. He and his followers are "seyeds" (left over arabs).

    February 11, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  11. Searching for another planet with oxygen...

    Iran, please respect the human rights of the people.

    February 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Daniel De Mol

      Thanks Searcher,
      Your noble sentiments are greatly appreciated.

      February 12, 2011 at 4:28 am |
  12. mack

    every one should be allowed to practice their religious traditions. i really feel sorry for the bahais and other minority sects in Iran and else where in the world facing discrimination.

    February 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Daniel De Mol

      Thanks Mack,
      You are a true gentleman 🙂

      February 12, 2011 at 4:24 am |
  13. CatholicMom

    The US Commission on International Religious Freedom needs to be headed by an Ambassador NOW. This is an extremely important commission concerning human rights. They have to stop dragging their feet in Washington!

    February 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      CM.. religious freedom from what.. religion?.. it is noose that each religion puts around it own neck. The last thing any country can afford at this time is money to waste on a commision to sort out the mess that religion has made of the world so far. And also remember that religions pay little or no tax into the system ..so what makes you think you have any right or vailidity to ask for this. Your own church would have more than enough money to fund this if you really want it.

      February 12, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • CatholicMom

      The US Commission on International Religious Freedom is for all beliefs….that is…….it is for freedom of thought and conscience for all people…those of faith and non-faith, or of God or godless people…
      The Commission would stand up for all people…so that one person does not kill another person because they think some other way than you think or I think. An atheist would want the same freedom of thought and conscience, wouldn’t she?

      February 12, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      Catholic mom Who is to say what is sinful.. this is merely a group thought that is being imposed on a sector of society based on some ideology, and yes the church does hide behind its wall of privilege. The recent scandals relating to the pedophile priests is a case in point.. there was a concerted effort muzzle the press...Were those priestly actions not sinful as well or is the church immune to its own d-ictates. if the church breaks the law it should be prosecuted as any other business..it has nothing to do with misunderstanding, that is just the persecution complex that the church nurtures..it is more that the church again feels it is above earthly laws. I do not "hate" the church for the money only that it pleads poverty and gets tax breaks and then expects to influence society.. it has its own bank,, i bet you cannot get much info from those bankers..

      February 13, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  14. USMC79

    The people of Iran should learn a thing or two from the resolve and strength of the Egyptians. If they kept fighting two years ago in their protests against the government they wouldn't be dealing with this crap! Instead they protested for a few days, got their a$$es handed to them by the police and went home to lick their wounds. Weak!

    February 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Rev Mike Talbot

      The tanks in Egypt were not going to fire into the crowd! The Republican Guard would see no problem in firing into the crowd of USA spies and heretics! Since Iran feels they were put into power by Gods hand and rule with Gods blessing so anyone who is against them is against God. Therefor those who stand in there way should be killed to show them the error of their ways!

      February 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  15. rachel

    Why would anyone who isn't Muslim go to Iran and put their self in that situation in the first place? Any thinking person would know they are walking directly into hell. I feel horrible for the bahai's but didn't they learn their lesson when the first group got disposed of in the 70's? "Vance said such an assembly was formed in Iran in 1979. They
    disappeared without a trace, he said."

    Muslims don't agree with the Baha'i teaching that they are an offspring of Islam. I understand the offense and obviously beheading is no way to handle things, but history be pondered on, thats how these guys handle conflict. Be warned. if you go to Iran you might die.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Randall D

      The Baha'is, dear Rachel, didn't go to Iran, the Faith was founded there in 1844. There were over a half million Baha'is in Iran before the revolution in 1979, and the National Spiritual Assembly had existed for decades. Today there are about 300,000 Baha'is in Iran, the rest fled the country as best they could. Interestingly, the IRI doesn't want the Baha'is there, but they do everything in their power to prevent them from leaving.
      Also, the Baha'i Faith is an independent world religion, not a sect of Islam. Think of Christianity springing from Jewish roots, but it certainly cannot be called a "Jewish sect."

      February 11, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Ben

      I like freedom, but not rational Islam.
      Try to send SMS text to US free: http://text.iiibc.com

      February 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Kaath

      The Baha'i in Iran are Iranian. They didn't put themselves in that position in 1970. They're ancestors have been living there for centuries. The Baha'i Faith was founded in the mid 19th century (that's the 1800s) IN IRAN. The original members were Muslim, Christian and Jewish converts. The Faith has been persecuted in Iran with varying degrees of violence ever since. In 1979 when the current government came into power, there was a particularly violent wave of persecution that resulted in the killing of a number of Baha'is and the "disappearance" of two national spiritual assemblies.

      I am an American Baha'i. That is, I am an American citizen (of Polish-Russian lineage, if it matters) who became a Baha'i as an adult of my own free will and out of love for the Faith. Non-Baha'i Iranians often suppose the Faith is a minor cult with a handful of believers only in Iran. So you see, there are other misconceptions than your own.

      To be concise: the Baha'i Faith is not an import to Iran. It was born there among Iranian people.

      October 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  16. Reality

    Bahaism is simply another religion founded by a hallucinating human just like Mohammed. When the followers of said founders finally join the 21st century, all this ill-founded, birth-driven hate will end!!!

    February 11, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Thinker23

      @Reality: Bahaism is simply another religion founded by a hallucinating human just like Mohammed.

      It seems that you're convinced that only YOUR beliefs are the "truth" and everyone having different beliefs is a "hallucinating human". How are you different from other religious fanatics, "Reality"???

      February 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, what speaks are the conclusions of the scholars of religion during the last 200 years. Some added conclusions:

      The Five Steps for Deprogramming/Curing 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave attended to by his wives before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Absorb these five steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      February 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Is this really "reality"?

      Reality (and all the Qur'an-bashers here and elsewhere),

      I would like to debate with you regarding the following portion of your comment:

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      For convenience, let's assume that the Qur'an really was written by a person. Now explain how, in one instance, the "hallucinating" Muhammad knew that a fetus is formed from substances such as semen, blood, etc. in the womb of the mother? And not only that, how was he able to describe the formation of the fetus in graphic detail? You can read this verse, just as an example:

      We created man from the purest kind of clay; then made him a drop in a secure receptacle; then formed the drop into a clot and formed the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Surat al-Muminun, 12-14)

      Where were the scientific advances of our day at the time these words were written? Where were the medical textbooks, the MRI, or the X-Ray? Did Mohammad just guess this? Or did the fasting cause him to dream of some winged creatures, which in turn would lead him to a medical discovery never before known? If that is what you honestly think, then someone needs to read up a little bit on where our medical knowledge comes from.

      Keep in mind that these verses originate from circa 700-800 AD, and just as there was no medicine then, there were no medical textbooks in existence at this time period either. None, I reiterate. Even if there were somehow any textbooks on this subject, remember that Muhammad was illiterate. In other words, he could not read or write.

      February 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  17. Doc Vestibule

    "It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics."
    – Robert A. Heinlein

    February 11, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Rev Mike Talbot

      If we don't keep a close eye on it that would be America in a heart beat! The bible belt would love to make this a Christian only nation! Then the fight would be on as to which kind of Christian!

      February 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  18. Manooch

    I'm a member of the Baha'i Faith and have witnessed the atrocities that the Iranian Baha'is have suffered by this regime during the last thirty years. I'm very happy to see that through efforts such as this the world is becoming more aware of the persecution of the Baha'is in Iran, and I'm grateful to the U.S. commission for listening to the Baha'i delegation. Also, let me say thank you CNN for posting this news worthy event on your website.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  19. Moros

    "Iran provides respect for religion for Christians, Jews and on and on..."

    No, they really don't.

    Its a bad thing to be anything but muslim in Iran.

    February 11, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • fu9l

      the jewish population is mostly used a forced labor and the christians as slaves most of them are dieing to leave but they are being forced to stay family members being held in jails ect. keeping them form fleeing

      February 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • ami

      That is nonesence, all religions with book are free to practice in Iran except Bahi which is precived as man made branch of Islam

      February 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  20. Nathan

    I am of muslim faith and I do not understand why these leaders in Iran, Saudia Arabia and other countries can not tolerate the freedom of religion. In addition, individual needs to be free to choose their faith, and everybody need to be sensitive and respectful to other religions. I would like to see these countries allowing the building of churches, synagogues, and temples. I grew up in country where these religious buildings existed and people were free to practice their religions.In addition, I loved to see on Saturday the Jewish people all dressed up and walking in the street, and every morning I crossed the priest riding on his bike to head to his church. On the other hand, alcool was tolerated to be served only inside the bars, but I am not a big fan of alcool because I saw several families going bankrupt. Furthermore, Catholic priests were helping the kids in the poor communities with their homeworks. On the other hand, I can see several countries including the USA and the Europe, which are becoming islamophobic. Several religious groups are supporting the islamophic mouvements, and someone is financing these groups.

    February 11, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • fu9l

      i have to totally agree now its irans turn to get rid of there goverment it is a must they deserve there freedom more than most they have been enslaved and torchered for years they need it worse than some of the other countries protesting now let them all go to iran and throw these mullahs and the dictator out of iran FREE IRAN NEXT ........

      February 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Ben

      I like freedom, but not rational Islam.
      Try to send SMS text to US free

      February 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Daniel De Mol

      Hi Nathan,
      Whilst it is true that Islamaphobia needs to be tackled, this would clearly not suppress the need to condemn human rights abuses in Iran, or to speak up about them in the media.
      After all, what Islamophobia you may face as a free citizen in the western world, although wrong and to be addressed, is substantially less than the mistreatment of minority's in Iran due to Baha'i-phobia (or non-Muslimophobia).
      Additionally, Baha'is who regard Islam as a revealed religion have a keen interest in reducing Islamophobia in the west as our own beliefs are not valid if Islam is not from God, and do not accept donations from non-Baha'is, thus are clearly not 'funded' for anti-Islamic purposes.
      Kind regards.

      February 12, 2011 at 4:45 am |
    • Sofya

      I am not a Muslim but I absolutely agree with you on the Islamophobia comment.
      S-L-M. Three letters can portray a familiar belief in a new light. Too many misconceptions about Muslims today exist. One is that being a Muslim means supporting the suppression of women. That is simply not true. The wearing of the hijab is not to make women submissive, but so that they can feel comfortable and modest. And let me tell you, some days after seeing some young women’s skirts that end just below their butts, a hijab is a welcome sight. It is a sign that women who choose to wear it don’t feel that people only pay attention to them because of how they look. Another misconception is that Muslims hate the Jewish people. That is also false. The vast majority of Muslims do not hate Jewish people. While at times Muslims and Jews have come into conflict, so have any of a large number of groups. Christians used to persecute the medieval Jews as the “killers of Christ”. I think the biggest misconception about Muslims is that they are all radical anti-American terrorists. I laugh whenever I hear that. A few bad apples do not make a sour fruit. Let’s not forget that any religion or ethnicity has its own radicals. Fred Phelps, a so-called “Christian”, spends most of his time yelling “God hates you!” or “Thank God for dead soldiers!” at funerals for our fallen men and women of the armed forces. I am not Muslim so my interpretation of Islamic tenets may be incorrect, but I've taken a few Comparing Religions classes in university so I think that I am not massively incorrect. Please don't offended if they are. I respect all religions equally and I find it interesting to look at the parallels between them. America truly is Islamophobic and I challenge you all to try not to generalize or stereotype. If you still doubt that almost all Muslims are not radical jihadists, consider this:
      SaLaaM. “Peace”.

      February 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Sofya.. the problem is that Muslims do not speak out against the attrociti-es committed in the name of the religion. Where are the Muslims marching in the streets screaming for an end to suicide=ide bombing, the beheadings a few years back, the disgusting things seen on placards in London at Muslim gatherings, the hate messages discussed at Mosques? While it may well be true that many may not agree, too few are speaking out. That is what concerns me anyway..the future of the human race is at stake with some of these actions, and if we are called Islamaphobic to get our point across then so be it. I could say that Islam is humaniphobic. you notice that Maneef will cut and paste meaningless passages from the Koran, but has no answers to questions posed to him.

      February 13, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Kaath

      @Evolved DNA: There ARE Muslims calling for the suicide bombings and other atrocities to stop. Do you want to know why you haven't heard of it? Because the media hasn't covered it. It doesn't sell newspapers or draw eyeballs—conflict does. In the wake of 9/11 5,000 Muslim clerics held a Peace gathering in New York to cry out against that atrocity. Only the BBC covered the event.

      I work with a local interfaith group and track the efforts of the interfaith community worldwide—including Muslim organizations. There has been a great outcry in the form of peace marches, open letters, advertisements etc. But very few of these efforts are reported or remarked on.

      And lets face it, we're human. We're programmed to notice the bad things that happen. The good things just slip past us like the currents in a river. It's only when a piece of floating jetsam beans us on the head that we notice and say "ouch."

      October 25, 2011 at 9:49 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.