The Baha’i faith teaches the oneness of God and religion and – among things – the fundamental equality of the sexes.
It’s a very peaceful and tolerant form of religion, which dates from the mid-19th century.
As you might imagine this kind of stuff doesn’t go down very well in parts of the increasingly dogmatic Middle East, even though members of the Baha’i faith are encouraged to obey the government of the country in which they live.
In Iran, the security forces and their associates have now started welding shut the gates of Baha’i cemeteries, destroying gravestones, trees, morgues and mortuaries. They are also intimidating cemetery workers, blocking access roads, ordering cemeteries to be closed or relocated, and exhuming bodies and preventing burials.
In Iran three minorities (Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians) have a limited degree of official recognition. But the Baha’is are officially hated and have been ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who then founded an Islamic Republic, regarded Baha’i principles, such as gender equality and no clergy, were not just offensive from a religious perspective – they also represented a threatening political example.
In 2008 Ministry of Intelligence officials in Najafabad, in Iran, imprisoned members of the Baha’i community for “illegal” use of their cemetery. Since then a systematic persecution of Baha’is has been underway.
Picture source: Taeedxy via Wikimedia Commons