Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Haifa’

Baha’i Seven on Trial

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 19th January, 2010

With all my political and media activities, I don’t always get to the Comments pages of my daily paper every day, but today I was glad to  pick up on Cherie Blair’s article on the Baha’i in Iran in a recent back issue of The Guardian. On 12 January the trial began of the so-called Baha’i Seven: seven prominent members of the Baha’i faith in Iran who have been accused of spying for Israel — a charge which, if validated could carry the death penalty. The case is, of course, monstruous, like so much in today’s Iran, where any sort of dissent or difference is likely to invite harsh retribution. The Baha’i faith began in Iran in the nineteenth century, but has been systematically persecuted since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 because of its eclectic nature, recognising that of God in prophets of all sorts of different religions. It is an essentially pacific religion, universal and based on human values of love and understanding. The Israel connection is largely because the most spectacular Baha’i religious site is in Haifa: a hillside garden arranged in tiers. It is important that the world keeps its eyes on the trial of the seven Baha’i leaders and deplores the maltreatment of Baha’i followers. The Iranian constitution permits freedom of religion, but alas the reality is quite different.

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Lembit Opik, Ridvan and the Baha’i

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 22nd April, 2009

abdul-baha2lembit-opikLembit Opik MP hosted the annual All Party Group for the Baha’i’s reception on the terrace of the House of Commons this evening, timed to coincide with the Baha’i festival of Ridvan. If the celebrations were somewhat subdued for many people present, it was because seven leading Baha’i figures who were arrested in Iran last year are still in prison. The faith, which is monotheistic and teaches that all religions come from God, was founded in the 19th Century in Iran, though its most famous contemporary religious centre is in Haifa, Israel. It has suffered systematic persecution in Iran since shortly after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Bill Rammell, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, gave a speech of welcome and there were written greetings from a  curious trinity: the Archbishop of Canterbury, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. In his capacity as Chairman of the All Party Group, Lembit quipped that he was too wicked to become a Baha’i himself. Wicked? Surely not, Lembit. Just naughty.


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