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Iran tries seven Bahais for 'proselytising'
Members of Haifa-based sect will face trial for allegedly conspiring against Iranian national security
AFP , Tuesday 27 Sep 2011
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Six Bahai men and one woman accused of proselytising began to appear, individually and in groups, before the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, which deals with crimes against the regime, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the National Assembly of Bahais.

The seven individuals are leaders and teachers of BIHE (Bahai Institute for Higher Education), an online university, the statement noted, adding that Iranian authorities had announced their arrest in May on charges of "proselytising."

Iranian media did not report the opening of the trial.

The statement added that defence lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani had also been arrested on 10 September.

The arrest was first reported by Amnesty International and has since been denounced by the European Union. Soltani is a co-founder of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran, along with Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

The Bahais are barred from holding posts in higher education or government in staunchly Shiite-Muslim Iran, where they are widely regarded as infidels. They have been persecuted both before and after the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.

The statement said the seven Bahais were among a group of 19 people arrested on 21 May, noting that the others had since been released.

In July, the assembly said they had been accused of "conspiracy against national security and against the Islamic Republic" for their activities on behalf of the BIHE.

Iranian Bahais are routinely persecuted. In late 2010, seven Bahai community leaders were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

There are more than seven million Bahais worldwide, including 300,000 in Iran, where the religion was founded, community leaders say.

The European Union and the United States have repeatedly expressed their concern about the plight of Bahais in Iran.

Followers of the Bahai faith consider Bahaullah, born in 1817, to be the last prophet sent to earth by God and believe in the spiritual unity of all religions and all mankind.

The faith is officially banned in Iran, where Bahais are regarded as heretics and "spies" linked to Israel, since the sect’s global headquarters are located in Haifa, Israel.



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Jamshed
03-10-2011 12:22pm
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Sects of Baha'is
Baha'i faith is not a sect of Islam but there are many sects in the "Baha'i World religion". It is also called as the "Baha'i Faith International". The major sect is the Haifan Sect and this is the term used for them. They follow the UHJ of Haifa. There are other sects also. See this website : http://www.sectsofbahais.com
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Jameel
30-09-2011 06:33pm
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Haifa Based Sect
Just a Clarification for the term "Haifa Based Sect". It is very clear that Baha'i faith is not a sect of Islam. It is an independent religion. The Haifa Based Sect does mean that there are many sects in the Baha'i Faith and those being persecuted in Iran are the followers of Haifa Based UHJ. There is one more UHJ in Montana and they do also have followers but as compared to the Haifa Based Sect, they have very less followers. But they are there. There is one more Baha'i group that is based in Australia that does not believe in this Haifa Based Baha'i Sect. more information on this issue is available on Wikipedia and other websites.
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Bill
28-09-2011 04:39pm
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Clarifications
The Baha'i faith is not a sect of Islam or any other religion. It is an independent world religion. Its world spiritual and administrative center is in the Haifa-Akka area of what is now israel, because Baha'u'llah was exiled and imprisoned in what was then Ottoman Palestine in 1868. Baha'ullah is not the "last prophet" in the sense of being the "final" Manifestation of God. Rather, he is the latest of a series of such Manifestations, among whom are Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Muhammad, the Bab, and Baha'u'llah. The historical problem Muslims have with Baha'is is the Muslim belief that Muhammad was the final Messenger of God, never to be followed by any other.Baha'u'llah's claim to be the Mouthpiece of the Akmighty, the "Living Book," is heresy to Islamic orthodoxy. This is one of the main excuses for the virulent persecution of Baha'is by Islamic clerics in Iran that has been a constant backdrop to the lives of Baha'is in that country.
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Ata
28-09-2011 03:31pm
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Your information?
The Baha'i Faith IS based in Haifa, Israel. See the Faith's website: www.bahai.org. However, it is not a sect of Islam. It's prophet-founder is not Muhammad, nor are its holy books and teachings those of the Islamic Faith. Therefore, by no definition could it be called a "sect of Islam." Pretty simple logic that seems to have escaped the author of this article!
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Faith Cross
27-09-2011 07:29pm
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The Baha'i Faith is not a "Haifa-based sect"
The Baha'i Faith is an independent world religion. The faith is not based in Haifa, nor is it a sect of the Islamic Faith.
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