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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Iran is preventing the country’s Baha’i minority from obtaining a national identity card, in another setback to the religiously persecuted group.
Authorities have removed the “other religions” option from the application process meaning that those who belong to other faiths, including Baha’is, could be deprived of their basic civil rights.
Without an identity card, Bahai’s living in Iran cannot applying for a loan, cash a check, or buy property.
“The exclusion of the Iranian Baha’i community from national identification cards is unconscionable, and we are disturbed to see how this action against the Baha’is fits into a broader pattern of heightened persecution over the last few months,” Anthony Vance, director of the US Baha’i office of public affairs, told The National.
Aside from Islam, only Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are recognised under Iranian law as religious entities.
The Baha’i principles forbids people from lying about their religion. This means that Baha’i followers cannot apply for the official documentation, and cannot claim they follow any of the three legally recognised religions.
Mr Vance urged the Iranian government to “reconsider this religiously motivated exclusion”.
He called on the international community to raise awareness about persecution against Iran’s Baha’is, which has recently accelerated with a series of arrests, imprisonments, and a court decision that paves the way for their property to be seized by the state because of their religious beliefs.
According to the UN, there are approximately 350,000 Baha’i followers in Iran, making the country’s biggest religious minority.
They say hundreds of followers have been jailed or executed since Iran’s revolution in 1979.
The Baha'i faith was founded in Iran in 1844, and considers itself a universal religion. Baha’is regard their faith’s 19th-century founder as the latest in a line of prophets that includes Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. Iran’s Shiite religious establishment condemns the faith as heretical.
However, violence against the minority group is not uncommon.
In Yemen, the group is also facing severe persecution. Several of its leaders are on trial in cases that have been condemned by the US and others as tantamount to religious persecution. Over 20 Bahai’s were accused of apostasy and espionage in a Sanaa court.
Updated: January 28, 2020 04:59 PM
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