May 23, 1844, The Declaration of the Báb

At two hours and 11 minutes after sunset this evening, Bahá’ís in the Tennessee Valley and around the world will celebrate the 165th anniversary of the birth of the Bahá’í Faith – the Declaration of the Báb on this day in 1844.

The holy day marks the moment when the Báb announced that He was a new divine Messenger sent to herald a new age for humanity and to prepare the way for Bahá’u’lláh, the universal Messenger of God expected by people of all religions.

The house in Shiraz, Iran, where the Báb first made His announcemenThe-Babt had been preserved as a Bahá’í holy site, but in 1979 – 30 years ago this year – it was destroyed by a mob aided by Revolutionary Guards.

The Bahá’í calendar dates from 1844, with the year 166 B.E. (Baha’i era) now under way.

The Declaration of the Báb is one of nine holy days during the year on which Bahá’ís suspend work.

 

Tribal leaders stand in solidarity with Yemeni Baha’is

SANA’A, Yemen — Hundreds of Yemenis—led by tribal leaders and human rights activists—gathered on Monday this week (May  15,  2017,) to denounce the recent call for the arrests of several Yemeni Baha’is and to demand their immediate release.

Currently, five Baha’is, including tribal leader Walid Ayyash, remain in prison or detention under the direction of authorities in Sana’a. The detainees have not been allowed to receive visitors. Many more Baha’is are under the threat of being arrested.

“There are clear indications from reports within the country that certain authorities there have been instructed from Iran to carry out these unjust actions and have no other motive but to persecute the Baha’i community,” said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Not surprisingly, such interference from another country is arousing solidarity among the Yemeni people on an unprecedented scale in defense of the Baha’is, who are their friends, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and fellow tribespeople. It has also led to far greater awareness of the Baha’i Faith among the people of Yemen. And of course history shows that if you persecute the innocent, their cause will only spread.”

Leading the campaign against Baha’is in Yemen has been a member of the Prosecution Office in Sana’a, Rajeh Zayed. Reports indicate that, during the peaceful demonstrations on Monday morning, Mr. Zayed threatened the crowd with a weapon and attempted to incite violence against those present.

Despite shots being fired by security forces, the crowd remained peaceful, and fortunately no one was hurt.

“These Yemeni tribespeople and activists have courageously shown their support for the Baha’is, despite themselves becoming targets of attack,” said Ms. Dugal. “Their expression of solidarity, especially during such a difficult time for their country, is sincerely appreciated by the Baha’i International Community.”

“Indeed,” Ms. Dugal added, “their actions testify to the principle of the oneness of humankind and show that we are closely tied together so that the pain and joy of one becomes the pain and joy of another. We ardently hope and pray that the senseless persecution of the Baha’is in Yemen comes to an end and energies can be directed instead towards loftier aims such as an end to the violence ravaging the country and the eradication of disease and malnutrition now afflicting major segments of the population across that land.”

Global campaign launches for imprisoned Baha’i leaders

NEW YORK — The Baha’i International Community has launched a new global campaign Another-Yearcalling for the immediate release of the seven Iranian Baha’i leaders, unjustly imprisoned for nine years.

The campaign, “Not Another Year,” raises awareness about the seven women and men unjustly arrested in 2008 and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for their religious beliefs. This sentence was reduced to 10 years in 2015 after the overdue application of a new Iranian Penal Code.

“Our expectation is that these seven brave individuals will be released in the coming year as they complete their sentences,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“But the reality is that they never should have even been arrested or imprisoned in the first place and that, under the terms of Iranian law, they should long ago have been released on conditional discharge.

“In fact these seven, their families, and, indeed, the entire Iranian Baha’i community are all subject to injustice and cruelty, to oppression and tyranny. They all face unjust policies of economic strangulation, the unabated denial of access to higher education, and unprosecuted and malicious attacks on Baha’is and their properties, not to mention extensive negative propaganda in the official media,” she said.

In a message addressed to the Baha’is of Iran on the occasion of the anniversary of the imprisonment of the seven, the Universal House of Justice states:

“Some of the events of the past year have left no doubt in the minds of the people of Iran and beyond, that the rigid fanaticism and worldly considerations of some among the religious leaders are the real motive for all the opposition and oppression against the Baha’is.”

It further states: “the representatives of the country on the international stage are no longer able to deny that these acts of discrimination are in response to matters of belief and conscience. Officials, lacking any convincing explanation for their irrational conduct and unconcerned at the damage done by their narrow policies to the name and credibility of the country, find themselves unable even to give a plausible answer to why they are so apprehensive about the existence of a dynamic Baha’i community in that land.”

The campaign for the seven imprisoned Baha’is aims to secure the immediate release of the seven, who are Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm, the eldest of whom is over eighty years in age.

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The seven Iranian Baha’i leaders were imprisoned nine years ago. The campaign “Not Another Year” calls for their release and highlights the gross injustice that has led to their imprisonment and mistreatment.

Similar to campaigns from previous years, it commemorates the anniversary of the arrest of six of the seven on 14 May 2008. It will be supported by videos, songs, and activities designed to call attention to their plight.

The campaign also focuses on all the events they have missed during their nine years in prison, the joys—and sorrows—of day-to-day life with their families and loved ones.

“All seven were married with children and, prior to their arrests, had rich family lives,” said Ms. Dugal. “All seven were also extremely active in working for the betterment of their community—not to mention Iranian society as a whole.

“Further, their long-running imprisonment has meant, among other things, that they have missed out on the birth of numerous grandchildren, the joyous weddings of children and close relatives, and the funerals of family members and dear friends.

“They have been forced to celebrate their national and religious holidays in prison, instead of in the company of their loved ones. And, while in prison, they have been unable to tend to their farms and businesses, which have languished or, in at least one case, been destroyed by the government,” she said.

The Baha’i International Community calls on the Iranian government to immediately release them, as well as the other 86 Baha’is currently behind bars in Iran—all held solely for their religious beliefs.

More background about the campaign can be found at a special section of the website of the Baha’i International Community.

Baha’i Faith on Climate Change

Please join us tomorrow, April 23, 2017, 11 a.m. for a special devotional on
Climate Change.

The devotional is part of the local response to the National Spiritual Assembly’s encouragement of the 2017 “Faith in Action on Climate Change”, the national Interfaith Power and Light effort to educate religious groups on this subject.

Ominous wave of Yemen arrests raises alarm

Yemen-Baha'is

A group of Baha’is in Yemen including Mr. Walid Ayyash (far-left) and Mr. Kaiwan Qaderi (far-right), who are presently detained by the authorities in Yemen.

NEW YORK — Orders for the arrest of at least 25 Baha’is have been issued by certain authorities in Sana’a who are harassing the Yemeni Baha’is and pressuring them to recant their faith.

The baseless and nonsensical accusations levelled against the Baha’is include showing kindness and displaying rectitude of conduct in order to attract people to their Faith. These accusations bear a striking resemblance to those encountered by the Baha’is in Iran, and in fact, reports indicate the influence of Iranian authorities behind incidents transpiring in Yemen.

Recent events constitute disturbing developments in a series of assaults heaped upon the Yemeni Baha’i community. These include the 2013 arrest and ongoing court case of Mr. Hamed bin Haydara, as well as the mass arrest of over 60 participants, half of whom were Baha’is, at an educational gathering in 2016. Mr. Kaiwan Qaderi, who was among those arrested, was detained for over eight months. Just weeks ago, an employee of the Red Cross who is a Baha’i was arrested on 5 April in Sana’a simply because of his faith.

“We call upon the international community to unitedly denounce these alarming and ominous actions undertaken by specific authorities in Yemen, including the National Security and the Prosecutor’s Office and demand that they stop this recent wave of arrests and release the Baha’is in prison, who are in grave danger,” said Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Let us not,” was her strong plea, “stand by and allow a case of tyranny and injustice against a religious community to unfold.”

Mr. Badi’u’llah Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer in Sana’a Yemen, recently arrested for being a Baha’i.

Immediately preceding the call for their arrest, on Monday 17 April, dozens of Baha’is received telephone calls between 10:30 p.m. and midnight and were told that they should appear in court the following morning. Aware of recent efforts to persecute the Baha’is and given that no official court order had been presented to them, the Baha’is agreed to send several lawyers in their stead.

However, one Baha’i, Mr. Badi’u’llah Sana’i, a prominent civil engineer in Yemen followed the advice given to him at his workplace and appeared at court on 18 April. He was immediately arrested, confirming the suspicion that the request for Baha’is to appear at court was a ploy for their arrest.

On 19 April, two additional Baha’is, including Mr. Walid Ayyash, a member of a prominent Yemeni tribe, were arrested by authorities as they were driving from the city of Ibb on route to Hudaydah. Their whereabouts are presently unknown and concerns are mounting as to their safety.

Many Baha’i families in Sana’a had to leave their homes in order to avoid being unjustly detained, including Mr. Haydara’s wife, who has been fighting for his release for over three years while caring for their three daughters and is now herself on the list of those to be arrested.

During a turbulent period of civil conflict in Yemen in recent years, the members of the Baha’i community there have refused to side with one group or another and have instead endeavored to serve all people, placing particular emphasis on a youthful generation eager to dedicate its energies to the regeneration of their society.

Many Yemeni leaders from various factions have already expressed sympathy with the Baha’i community. Even amongst the Houthi authorities in Sana’a within whose jurisdiction these persecutions are taking place, some key figures, including a minister, have expressed dissatisfaction with the continuous persecution of the Baha’is, and some have even condemned these recent attacks through social media.

“We are confident in the support of many more fair-minded people of Yemen of whatever group or strata, who surely agree that the Baha’i community should be permitted to live alongside others and contribute to the betterment of their society, especially during such a difficult time for their country,” said Ms. Dugal.