Baha’ism is a faith founded in the 19th century, which groups an international community of believers who wish to be considered as members of an “Independent, world religion”.
Since the creation of the Iranian Islamic Republic in 1979, the 350000 baha’i of Iran have been discriminated and repressed, to an extent which has been denounced by international human rights organisations.
Their faith having been created after Islam, it is not considered as a religion by the regime.
Ali Khamenei, the Supreme guide of the Revolution, has alledgedly recommended in an internal document to “block their progress and development”, “ban them from University”, and “block their access to employment if they identify themselves as baha’i”.
Many members of this community have been executed. Many others have left Iran.
Among them , we met Sobhan, who sought refuge in turkey in the hope of getting asylum in another country, where he can build his future, which he explains is denied him in Iran.
“I think the principles are not the issue. The issue is you are not part of us. If you say a lot of good things it doesn’t matter, it’s not the point. You are not muslim so is enough for you to be denied your rights. Our principles I think are very modern, very good. They talk about truth,they talk about equal rights between men and women. We have about 12 principles and if you talk with anyone, any logical person would accept these principles as good modern community principles.
When I was in school, we had religious courses, and our teacher was saying Islam is the best religion in the world. And other religions are completely wrong and you cannot go by their rules. So as a baha’i child, I was thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me.Maybe my family is saying wrong things to me. Or maybe school teaching something wrong. I had a conflict with myself and after that…playing in the street, the other kids were pointing at me as a baha’i child; “you are not clean, you are dirty..” As a child I couldn’t imagine what was the problem. Maybe I would just wash my hands and its goes ? But it wasn’t like that…I carried this feeling until I went to high school. Again a lot similar stories happened to me: “you are baha’i, you have to change your mind, you have a lot of problems in your mind, you’re wrong”.
After my high school I went to play music, I play the guitar. One of my friends introduced me to a composer, we played music and we even made four tracks. But once they understood I was baha’i they didn’t continue working with me. Because they told me “you don’t have the permission to work, because you are baha’i, and you won’t get permission”.
When I wanted to enter University, as a baha’i, we can’t go. We don’t have education rights to go to university. So we just we built a very small organisation, as Bihd. Our teachers, students, had classes in houses. We didn’t have many classes, we just studied the books, and at the end of the term we just passed the quizzes, and it was the end of our University. So after 2 terms I decided to go to other universities, the official universities.
I just filled my application, with my name, my family name, but at the end you have to chose your religion. This is something I don’t want to share, this is my private belief. But they asked and they forced me to answer. As a baha’i, as a person, as a child raised in a baha’i family, what did they expect from me? I will answer as a baha’i. I’m not afraid of anyone. But the result is that I can’t go to university. And we pay this price, and we go to our private university with low quality.”
Question: Would you say that you left Iran because you couldn’t do anything as a baha’i or because you couldn’t do anything as a young man?
“No, no. Even if just a young man its enough to decide to leave Iran. Because right now Iran doesn’t have a good government, doesn’t have good conditions. But as a baha’i I have a lot more specific problems.
Baha’is can’t get official jobs, they can’t work for government. If a baha’i becomes rich, they will stop them, limit them, they want to restrict them because they don’t want a baha’i to become powerful.
I have a lot of friends, I have my family in Iran. But right now I don’t think I will come back to Iran. In these conditions, I don’t think I can stay in Iran, I can have any opportunity, I can have a good future. Because of this, I think.. Iran doesn’t belong to me. Even if I belong to Iran, Iran doesn’t belong to me. So it’s not something that I can chose, nor can I change it. I have to accept “