Yemen: Rebel-run court sentences Baha’i man to death

SANAA, Yemen — A rebel-controlled Yemeni court has sentenced a local Baha’i man to death on charges of disseminating the beliefs of his faith and spying for Israel.

Hamid bin Haydara, detained since December 2013, received his sentence Tuesday. It was condemned by local and international rights groups, including Amnesty International, which slammed it as “cruel” and “degrading.” It also called on Yemeni authorities to “immediately quash” the sentence.

The Iranian-backed Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, seized the capital Sanaa in 2014. They have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing an internationally recognized government since March 2015.

The Baha’i faith originated in Iran in 1844 but is currently banned there. Israel is home to some of its holy sites and administrative bodies.

U.S. Senate Passes S. Res. 139

The United States Senate on Tuesday, Dec. 26, b25994541_10155366727556025_4971907566410712929_ny unanimous consent, passed a Resolution condemning the Iranian government’s persecution of the Baha’is of Iran.

” … Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights;

(2) calls on the Government of Iran to immediately release the 5 imprisoned Baha’i leaders, the 7 imprisoned Baha’i educators, and all other prisoners held solely on account of their religion;

(3) calls on the President and the Secretary of State, in cooperation with responsible nations, to immediately condemn the Government of Iran’s continued violation of human rights and demand the immediate release of prisoners held solely on account of their religion; and

(4) urges the President and the Secretary of State to utilize available authorities to impose sanctions on officials of the Government of Iran and other individuals directly responsible for serious human rights abuses, including abuses against the Baha’i community of Iran.”

Full text here:…/115th…/senate-resolution/139/text

Light to the World

There is a story unfolding. It is a story of humanity’s progress through history, propelled by the teachings of Messengers of God Who have guided humanity through its stages of development, and now to the dawn of its maturity.

Two hundred years ago, such a prophetic Figure appeared: Bahá’u’lláh. He brought teachings for this age that represent an end to division and otherness, through which––at long last––the oneness of humankind can be realized.

Discover more through accounts of people from diverse nations whose lives have been transformed by the light that Bahá’u’lláh brought to the world.  You are invited to view a feature length video produced in commemoration of His Birth: Light To The World 




Earlier this year, Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Maziar Bahari and his company, Off‑Centre Productions, completed a new film, Changing the World, One Wall at a Time. The film documents Education Is Not A Crime’s remarkable worldwide mural campaign focusing attention on the Iranian regime’s denial of higher education to Bahá’ís.

The relentless persecution of Iran’s Bahá’ís―presented with great effect in Changing the World, One Wall at a Time―is increasingly being recognized by respected organizations concerned with human rights abuses.

Yet―notwithstanding the recent release from unjustified captivity of three members of the former Yárán (a national organizing committee of Baha’is in Iran)―the persecution shows no signs of abating.

Numerous arrests took place during the recent Bicentenary period observing the 200th Birthday of Baha’u’llah. The total number currently behind bars is about 90.

Please watch, download, and share this amazing documentary. We are confident widespread viewing of Changing the World, One Wall at a Time will not only focus renewed attention on the plight of the long-suffering Iranian sisters and brothers but will awaken an outcry from the fair-minded to grave injustices that have for far too long persisted.

Third member of Yaran completes 10 year sentence

1225_00BIC NEW YORK — Behrooz Tavakkoli, one of the seven members of the former leadership group of the Baha’is in Iran who were imprisoned due to religious beliefs, has completed his unjust 10-year prison sentence. Mr. Tavakkoli is the third member of the Yaran to leave prison.

Mr. Tavakkoli, 66, was part of the ad-hoc group known as “the Yaran,” or the Friends, which tended to the basic spiritual and material needs of the Iranian Baha’i community and was formed with the full knowledge and approval of authorities there after formal Baha’i institutions were declared illegal in Iran in the 1980s. He and five other members of the group were arrested in May 2008 after an early morning raid on their homes. Another member, Mahvash Sabet, was arrested two months earlier, in March 2008.

Aside from Mr. Tavakkoli, Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi have also been released from prison. The four remaining members of the Yaran who are expected to complete their sentences in the coming months include Jamaloddin Khanjani, 84; Afif Naeimi, 56; Saeid Rezai, 60; and Vahid Tizfahm, 44.

Mr. Tavakkoli experienced discrimination for being a Baha’i throughout his life, which mirrors the situation for the Baha’i community in Iran in the present day. After studying psychology and serving in the army as a lieutenant, he faithfully cared for the physically and mentally disabled as a government social worker, yet was expelled in the early 1980s because he was a Baha’i. Today, not only are Baha’is excluded from employment in the public sector as well as various professions in the private sector, Baha’i-owned shops and businesses are regularly sealed by the authorities after they are temporarily closed to observe Baha’i Holy Days. In the last few years alone, hundreds of such businesses have been sealed, depriving scores of families of an income.

Prior to his current imprisonment, he also experienced intermittent detainment and harassment and, in 2005, was jailed for four months without charge, spending most of the time in solitary confinement. In recent months, arrests of Baha’is have been intensifying in cities such as Kermanshah, Birjand, and Rasht, and today, approximately one-hundred Baha’is are held in prisons across Iran solely because of their religious beliefs.

Special session marks bicentenary in Brazil’s Congress

BrazilBRASILIA, Brazil — In an extraordinary display of solidarity, 10 members of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, representing eight political parties, gathered for a special session of Congress to speak, one after another, about the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah.

Held in honor of the bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, the event—referred to as a Solemn Session—brought together over 350 people from 20 of Brazil’s 27 states. Included among them were representatives of two major indigenous groups, who had come on behalf of their people to honor the historic anniversary.

“To immerse oneself in Baha’u’llah’s teachings is to be immersed in the purest of humanity’s contributions to the world,” stated Congresswoman Erika Kokay in her remarks at yesterday morning’s event.

“The Baha’i community is, in a very concrete sense, intimately aware of the sufferings of humanity and at the same time of the nobility and beauty of the human condition. It is this beauty that gives us hope for the construction of a just and equal world,” she continued.

The special session, which was originally planned for some 50 minutes, ran for nearly two hours, as a series of representatives of the Chamber of Deputies—the lower house of Brazil’s National Congress—explored Baha’u’llah’s teachings for the betterment of the world and shared aspects of His life. Many of them were deeply moved and emotional as they addressed the diverse audience.

Noting Baha’u’llah’s central teachings, Congressman Chico Alencar spoke about the importance of the constructive contributions of true religion to social progress. Mr. Alencar also highlighted the sufferings of Baha’u’llah, explaining that throughout His life, Baha’u’llah endured oppression in order to bring teachings that would free humanity from it.

Many of the speakers remarked on the extraordinary, rarefied environment of the session.

“The atmosphere of reverence, the respect for the sacred, and the unified attention of all present, struck us deeply,” explained Carolina Cavalcanti, representative of the Baha’i community in Brazil. “Many of the congressmen mentioned how unusual it was that representatives from such divergent political parties could find themselves in such a state of agreement.

“They found that the teachings of Baha’u’llah connected with their highest aspirations. They saw in these principles what is important for promoting the well-being of humankind,” said Ms. Cavalcanti.

Solemn Session held in Brazil’s Congress on 29 October 2017

In an unusual break in protocol, one of the Congressman presiding over the session, summoned the Secretary of the National Assembly of the Baha’is of Brazil to the podium to address all present.

Congressman Luis Couto, who together with his colleague Erika Kokay had called for the Solemn Session, read out the statement of the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, for the occasion:

“Many of the teachings of Baha’u’llah are present in our legal system like the equality of men and women, the elimination of prejudices of race, gender, social class, and others. Some of these ordinances that are part of our Constitution were proffered by Baha’u’llah in the nineteenth century.”

“Baha’u’llah proposed a world unifying vision as the solution for many of the current troubles of humanity,” continued the statement. “He did this long before the creation of the United Nations, the European Union, and many other mechanisms of global integration. Actually, his objective was loftier than political and commercial alliances. He envisioned the brotherhood of all religions and ethnic groups through the spiritualization of the human character.”

Yesterday was not the first time the Baha’i Faith was recognized by Brazil’s highest legislative body. In 1992, a Solemn Session was held to pay tribute to Baha’u’llah on the centenary of His ascension.

Structure & spirit: Italian museum features Baha’i architecture

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The Palladio Museum hosted an exhibition this month that highlights the Italian contribution to several prominent Baha’i buildings.

VICENZA, Italy — The Palladio Museum hosted an exhibition this month featuring several of the most iconic buildings of the Baha’i Faith, built with Italian marble.

The exhibition, titled “Architecture and Marble: Dialogue Between Ingenuity and Matter,” was organized by Margraf, the Italian company that cut and chiseled the marble for the Seat of the Universal House of Justice,

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The Seat of the Universal House of Justice

the International Baha’i Archives building, the terraces in the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, and the Continental Baha’i Houses of Worship in India and Samoa.

Formerly known as Industria Marmi Vincentini, the company, which was founded in Chiampo, Italy, was established in 1906. Over the more than 100 years of its existence, it has had the opportunity to work with numerous architects on extraordinary projects.

“Among its many big projects all over the world, Marmi Vincentini felt that the work with the Baha’is has been especially meaningful,” said architect Sohrab Youssefian,

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The Lotus Temple in India, which was built with marble cut and chiseled by the Margraf firm in Italy, is among the buildings featured in the Palladio Museum exhibition.

referring to the special opportunity to explore over the decades how spiritual principles can give rise to new forms of architectural expression, which have touched and inspired hundreds of millions of people.

The buildings featured in the exhibition have aimed to reflect the intangibility of the sacred in physical structures. Concepts central to Baha’u’llah’s teachings, such as the oneness of humankind, the essential harmony of science and religion, the coherence between material and spiritual dimensions of life, and the power of the sacred to inspire humanity’s noblest endeavors, are embodied in these architectural feats.

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Former Huntsville Baha’i Alison Wolfe and guests attended the opening reception of “Architecture and Marble: Dialogue between Ingenuity and Matter,” an exhibition at the Palladio Museum highlighting the Italian contribution to several iconic Baha’i buildings.

“Spirituality is not an abstract thing. It is the noblest matter of man,” said Mr. Youssefian at the exhibition’s opening reception.

Having worked with Margraf throughout the decades as a representative of the Baha’i community, Mr. Youssefian was visibly moved by the exhibition, which demonstrated the extraordinary results of many years of fruitful collaboration.

“I was struck by the opportunity to reflect again on these architectural achievements,” explained Mr. Youssefian. “They call to mind a verse from Baha’u’llah, in which he says that even the stones of the earth today call humanity to the divine.”

The relationship between the work of the Baha’i community and the northeastern region of Italy stretches back to the 1940s when marble from Chiampo was used to build the mausoleum of the Shrine of the Bab. During his ministry, Shoghi Effendi used Chiampo


The Shrine of the Bab in the gardens adjecent to the Baha’i World Centre, in Haifa, Israel.

marble for the Monument Gardens in Haifa on Mount Carmel. After his own passing, arrangements were made for the column in London marking the resting place of the Guardian to be fashioned from the same stone.

The exhibition included archival materials, such as original designs, charts, documents, photos, and videos. Part of the exhibition was dedicated to the technical evolution of the company’s work, which has advanced significantly over the last century.

Hossein Amanat and Fariborz Sahba, two Baha’i architects who designed the featured buildings, were also present at the reception and addressed the audience.

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“Architecture and marble: Dialogue between ingenuity and matter,” a month-long exhibition at the Palladio Museum, highlights the architecture of several Baha’i buildings.

“Architecture and Marble: Dialogue between Ingenuity and Matter” was open between 19 October and 19 November 2017, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, celebrated last month by millions around the world. The exhibition received widespread media coverage in Italy and was attended by around 1,000 visitors—attracting particular attention from those in the field of architecture.



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An aerial view of the administrative buildings at the Baha’i World Centre. The marble of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and the International Archives building was chiseled and cut by Margraf.