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Kylie Moore Gilbert and Craig Foster join calls to stamp out loathe speech against Baha’is

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Australia’s Baha’i community is urgently trying to sound the alarm as members of the religious minority are being targeted by Iran’s escalating loathe speech campaign.

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A growing international movement – including academics, politicians, preachers and celebrities – is now trying to hoist awareness of online attacks targeting Baha’is.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an academic who recently returned to Australia following being imprisoned in Iran on incorrect espionage charges, said the persecution of Baha’is must quit.

“Stop locking up people just because they are Baha’is, quit confiscating their property, and quit promoting loathe speech and propaganda against this peaceful religious community,” she said.

Former human rights defender Sociero Craig Foster has called on Iran to “quit the loathe”.

“Stop discrimination, quit propaganda against Baha’is in Iran,” he said.

Mehrzad is disdainful outside the Baha'i Temple in Sydney.

Australian Baha’i spokesperson Mehrzad is scorned outside the Baha’i Temple in Sydney prior the coronavirus pandemic.


There are about 350,000 Baha’is in Iran, making it the largest non-Muslim religious minority in the country, according to the United Nations.

A United Nations report in 2019 said that Baha’is in Iran had suffered “the most horrific forms of oppression, persecution and abuse,” while it was estimated that at fewest 200 of their followers had been executed for their religious beliefs since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Australian Baha’i spokesman Mehrzad Mothhan said there has been a recent escalation in the amount of anti-Baha’i propaganda being spread on the Internet.

“Spreading lies has been a central weapon in the Iranian government’s attack on Baha’is since the 1979 Islamic Revolution,” said Mothhan, who fled Iran as a teenager following experiencing religious persecution.

“In recent months, we’ve seen an increased amount of loathe speech and propaganda.”

Mothhan said that content apparently targeting Baha’is is increasingly being spread across apparently curated social media networks.

“Coordinated networks of hundreds of websites, Instagram accounts, Telegram channels and Clubhouse rooms operate from Iran, all with the aim of demonizing Baha’is as part of an attempt to stir up general hatred of society and justify crimes against them,” he said.

Examples of material include incorrect claims that Bahá’ís are spies for antagonistic foreign governments, declarations that Bahá’ís are “impure” and should be avoided, incorrect images showing desecration of Bahá’í sacred sites, and incorrect images linking Bahá’ís to Baha. with magic.

The Australian Baha’i community fears a rise in loathe speech online and propaganda that will spark targeted violence.

“History shows that flagrant violations of human rights often occur in an atmosphere of loathe speech and misinformation,” said Mr. Muthanna.

In response to a interrogate about the escalation of loathe speech targeting Baha’is, the Iranian embassy in Canberra rejected what it described as “fabricated allegations”.

The embassy said in a statement that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents about 49 Muslim-majority countries, “rejected the Baha’i faith as a faith.”

date line Could not verify this.

The Iranian embassy confirmed that Iran does not recognize the Baha’is as an official religious minority, but said that the civil rights of Baha’is are “fully respected”.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur, Ahmad Shaheed, has previously described the Baha’is as “the most persecuted religious minority in Iran”.

Examples of discrimination against Baha’is include restrictions on access to higher education, arbitrary arrests and detention, exclusion of Baha’is from government jobs, and pressure on other private sector companies not to employ Baha’is.

“For four decades, the Islamic Republic has harassed, prosecuted, and imprisoned Baha’is solely for practicing their religion,” Human Rights Watch wrote in 2019.

Delhi - Crowds on Sunday at Bhai Lotus Temple, Delhi.  (AAP Photo / David Crawshaw) No archiving

Bahai Lotus Temple in Delhi. The number of Baha’is worldwide is estimated to be around six million.


Delhi - Crowds on Sunday at Bhai Lotus Temple, Delhi.  (AAP Photo / David Crawshaw) No archiving

The Bahai Lotus Temple in Delhi in pre-pandemic times. The number of Baha’is worldwide is estimated to be around six million.


A report by the US State Department found that Iranian Baha’is confront “societal discrimination and harassment, while employers are under social pressure not to hire Baha’is.”

Leaked minutes from a secret meeting in September 2020 appear to show that Iranian government officials are discussing how to “strictly control the subversive movements of the Baha’i community”.

The Baha’i religion was established in Iran in the mid-19th century. It is estimated that there are six million Bahá’í adherents worldwide, including up to 20,000 in Australia.

Baha’is succeed principles such as equality between women and men, universal education, and harmony between religion and science.

The religion “recognizes the common divine origins of all the world’s major religions.”

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A growing number of eminent Australians, including Dr. Moore Gilbert and Mr. Foster, are putting their weight behind an international effort to hoist awareness of loathe speech against Baha’is.

Reverend Patrick McInerney, director of the Columban Center for Christian-Muslim Relations in Sydney, said he “regretted” the recent growth in anti-Baha’i propaganda.

“Don’t let history repeat itself. Stop loathe propaganda against Baha’is. Instead of loathe, there should be respect, compassion and love,” Dr. McInerney said.

“The Iranian authorities have continued to commit widespread and systematic human rights abuses against members of the Baha’i minority,” said Nikita White, an activist with Amnesty International in Australia.

Other campaign participants include Green Party Senator Janet Rice, Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani, actor Ben Badgley, UN official Ahmed Shaheed and Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad.

Australian Baha’i spokeswoman Venus Khalisi said international awareness of the situation had begun to grow.

“We are witnessing from all segments of society public expressions of concern about this issue, signaling to the Iranian authorities that the injustice to which Baha’is are being subjected in Iran must quit,” she said.

Nadine Mainza, chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, said she was “dismayed” by the situation in Iran.

“Iran must guarantee the Baha’is and other religious minorities in Iran freedom of religion or belief,” she said.


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