Friday, January 21, 2005

Baha'i Deportations from Iran

This article, from *Iran Focus*, has one small but significant difference from the translations of the Fars News Agency article -- this article says that the deported Baha'is had been offering economic incentives for young people to convert, while the other article said only that they had been using business affairs as a cover.

This morning I was told, by a source I trust, that there has been an ongoing effort by individual members of the UHJ, to funnel money from wealthy Baha'is to young Baha'is in Iran for the purpose of setting them up in business, as part of Haifa's policy of discouraging emigration. It is done unofficially, through the London office, and the governing committee of the Iranian community.

I suspect that what has occurred is that some of these young people, of Baha'i background, are actually quite distant from the Faith, and this financial incentive was used to draw them back into the community -- hence the charge that the foreign Baha'is were attempting to convert young Iranians.

The economic situation in Iran, whether one is Baha'i or not, is extremely bleak for young people, with rampant unemployment and attendant social ills -- drugs, promiscuity, depression, abuse -- that Baha'is are not immune from. The burden is made heavier on young Baha'is, both because of the persecution of the government, and the insistence of their religious authorities that they should not leave the country.

I would call the effort to render financial assistance to young Baha'is altruistic, except for the ulterior motive of keeping them in Iran. I am relieved to hear that there probably hasn't been an attempt to prosyletize among Iranians at large -- which quite upset me as being an unnecessary risk to innocent Baha'is over there. That is something that would have been scandalous and controversial enough to explain sudden resignations in the upper levels of the Baha'i administration. However, with this new information, the chances of a connection between this and the recent retirement of Semple and Martin are slight.


iansdigby said...

With respect, if one is (as in this blog) publicly making suppositions about this situation, one ought to consider carefully how they might impact on the victims.

Karen said...

Oh, come on! Do you honestly believe that silence about these things is going to make Iran's government treat Baha'is any better? The Baha'is are at the mercy of whatever political winds happen to be blowing through that country. If the administration really cared about these people, it would do its utmost to get them the hell out of there!