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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Incredible Media Vacuum

Hello all,

Just wanted to point out what I feel is an absolutely stunning silence on the part of the media and academics regarding the plight of the Baha'is in Iran (well, given the Rwanda coverage during the genocide, it shouldn't be so stunning, but still...). You'd think that the focus on Iran might draw to light some of the reprehensible yet oh-so-skillfully-duplicitous dealings of the government of Iran with the law-abiding Baha'is there.

I noticed that in the recent Columbia address, the president of the university did raise the issue of the treatment of Baha'is (just one time, but toward the beginning as he referred to him as exhibiting "all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator"), yet this systematic campaign of repression (I'm not exaggerating here--there was an actual blueprint of plans (see also this background) for repression leaked to the U.N., not to mention the constant and tragic evidence), doesn't even get a blip of coverage. While it may not be constant killings (the killings of Baha'is in the early 1980's weren't very good for international relations), you'd think that secret orders by the military to monitor all Baha'is, the largest religious minority in the country, might get a little more press or a leaked memo to expel any Baha'is from universities. This is not to speak of the other abuses such as denial of pensions, the confiscation of properties, the destruction of holy sites and Baha'i cemeteries, arbitrary detentions, propagandized media hatred, intimidation of children, denial of jobs, and other calculated measures to weaken the community there. When the issue is raised, Iran will post some lies or do some double-talk, and it seems to quell interest in the subject.

Some might assume this is some political rivalry between obscure factions and dismiss it as such, but look at the recent letter of the international governing body of the Baha'i Faith to Iranian students there. They write "With an illumined conscience, with a world-embracing vision, with no partisan political agenda, and with due regard for law and order, strive for the regeneration of your country. By your deeds and services, attract the hearts of those around you, even win the esteem of your avowed enemies". Baha'is also live in countries around the world and is, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, the most widespread religion in the world after Christianity in terms of geographic distribution. Hardly an obscure and narrow sect either--though even if it were, the outrages against the community deserve, I would say, quite a bit more attention than they are presently getting.

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