‘Khoresht-e-aloo va esfenaj’ or Persian spinach and dried plum stew is another popular dish in the Beech household. This recipe should serve 4-5 people.
- 750 g lamb chopped into cubes
- 750 g fresh spinach
- 2 chopped large onions
- 12-15 dried plums
- 1 ½ cups of split peas
- 3-4 cups of water
- Boil split peas separately until almost soft
- Fry the lamb, onions and dried plums in a medium pan over a moderate heat until they turn golden-brown, adding salt to taste.
- Add 3-4 cups of water, add split peas, put lid on pan and simmer for c. 25 minutes
- Add spinach and simmer for a further 15 minutes
- Serve with Persian-style white rice
I am concerned to read the following article by Bijan Masumian of Iran Press Watch.
The news coming out of Iran indicates that at some time in the future, the Islamic Republic government intends to put the seven leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community on trial. The group, which includes two women, has been in “temporary” custody for over ten months. The official charges are:
- Espionage for the state of Israel: a sentence that could carry the death penalty
- Activities against the Islamic regime
- Insulting government authorities
More than likely, the trial will be conducted behind closed doors, so neutral observers will not be able to watch the Iranian judicial system make a mockery of justice. Ironically, the cost of taking the Baha’i leaders through a show trial would be quite high for the government. Global coverage of news having to do with the persecution of Baha’is has been on a steady rise in the past few years. In the process, increasing numbers of Iranian groups and media outlets have risen to the defense of Iran’s largest religious minority. The highly publicized open letter of apology recently issued by a group of Iranian professionals that included political activists, poets, musicians, actors, and others was a clear indication of the increasing cost the regime will have to incur if it continues to disregard public opinion and carry on repressive measures against its largest religious minority. Even inside Iran, certain members of the clerical establishment as well as Iranian students and university professors have demanded justice for the Bahá’ís in public seminars.
While the likely scenario of a closed-door trial for the Baha’i leaders has its cost, the alternative would come at a much higher cost: allowing the internationally known and respected Noble Laureate, Shirin Ebadi, to publicly grill the Islamic Revolutionary Court and an Islamic judge who has little to no experience in contemporary legal proceedings, who would thus prove no match for Ebadi’s expert defense.
While all three charges are trumped up, the most serious is the first: that of espionage. According to the Islamic penal code, spying for a foreign country is considered treason and could carry the death penalty. In fact, only a few months ago an Iranian Jewish merchant was executed in Iran on the same charge.
Since 1979, numerous Iranian Baha’is, young and old, men and women have been accused of espionage for Israel. Yet, in none of the cases has the government produced a shred of evidence. They have never bothered to explain to an inquiring world what kind of “spy” was an eighty-five-year-old man like ‘Abdu’l-Vahab Kazemi of Yazd who had never set foot outside his village. Or what kinds of espionage activities the 17-year old Mona Mahmudnizhad and nine other Baha’i women from Shiraz had committed for which they were eventually hanged, despite international appeals to save their lives. Mona’s real “crime” was teaching ethics to Baha’i children in Sunday school. The same preposterous charge of espionage for Israel was also leveled against Baha’i farmers of the villages of Afus, Chigan, Qal’ih Malik (near Isfahan), and from the village of Nuk in Birjand. The outlandish nature of these accusations is simply remarkable.
Nonetheless, times have changed. In the 1980s, when these crimes were committed against a defenseless community, there was no internet and no social networking sites. Thus, the infrastructure for grassroots movements was not nearly as robust as it is today. Therefore, while the Islamic Republic could come out of those unjustified killings relatively unscathed, it is now becoming virtually impossible for them to continue that practice. Every time a Baha’i or any other Iranian is arrested on unfounded charges, the news is global within hours. Thousands of concerned citizens from all walks of life and different corners of the earth stand up and demand justice in a wide variety of forums and blogs. Thus, the cost of administering injustice is becoming prohibitive. Regarding the Baha’i “dilemma”: while the official policy of the Islamic Republic has been to “fight their cultural influence” both inside and outside Iran, in reality this is proving to be a losing battle. The clerical establishment began its anti-Babi, anti-Baha’i activities over 160 years ago. If the most brutal and inhumane killings of thousands of members of a relatively small population of Babis and Baha’is across Persia in the 1800s and early 1900s could not “solve” this “dilemma”, then where does the optimism to wipe out a now global community of 5-6 million people come from?
Yet, there is hope that the imminent trial of Baha’i leaders may prove to be the tipping point for this losing battle. The Islamic government of Iran may finally realize that public awareness of the situation of Baha’is both inside and outside Iran is reaching the boiling point. Therefore, they should either release these individuals or produce reliable evidence against them. While producing fabricated evidence against others may be a relatively easy undertaking inside Iran, the litmus test for the government would be to allow any potential evidence against Baha’i leaders be examined by an impartial court of law — something the Islamic government is highly unlikely to accept.
Yet another worrying development. On Tuesday, March 10, 2009, Iran Press News reported:
In a continuation of hostilities towards the Baha’is of Iran, a Baha’i woman in the town of Sari was arrested by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and taken to the prison in the Kachui district of the same town.
Mr. Samimi was arrested on January 21, 2009, on the charge of “activities against national security”. He was released after nine days of interrogation. After repeated threats, his wife, Mrs. Furughian, was also arrested last Sunday.
According to reports received from Sari, Mrs. Shirin Furughian (Samimi) was taken into custody on Sunday, March 8, 2009, by agents of the Intelligence Ministry and taken to the Ministry’s prison in Kachui.
It should be noted that in the beginning of August 2008, agents of the same Ministry closed the shop of her husband, Adel Samimi. Shortly after this occurrence, their home was searched [by Ministry of Intelligence] and personal property such as their computer, satellite dish, pictures, and Baha’i books were confiscated.
[Source: http://www.iranpressnews.com/source/055917.htm. Translation by Iran Press Watch.]
I am concerned by the report that a place of worship of the Gonabadi dervishes in Isfahan has been demolished by the Iranian authorities. Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe writes
The reason for the destruction — which reportedly took place shortly after midnight on February 18 — is not clear, but it comes amid growing pressure on dervishes, who practice the Sufi tradition of Islam, and other religious minorities in Iran.
The dervish house of worship, or hosseinieh, was located next to the tomb of the great poet and dervish Naser Ali at the historical Takht-e Foulad cemetery, where a number of respected Iranian figures are buried.
Dervishes gathered there to pray, meditate, read Sufi poetry, and perform religious ceremonies. In recent months, following the demolition of several dervish sites throughout Iran, dervishes in Isfahan had expressed concern that their hosseinieh could meet a similar fate.
To prevent that from happening, several of the local dervishes were spending nights at the hosseinieh to keep watch.
But there was little they could do when, in the early hours of February 18, some 200 members of the security forces, police, and plainclothes agents arrived.
The dervishes’ mobile phones were taken away to prevent them from informing others of the raid, and they were detained and transferred to a police station.
Abdol Saleh Loghmani, one of the Isfahan dervishes, told RFE/RL that the security forces cut off water and electricity to the area, and destroyed the walls around the poet’s tomb with a bulldozer.
“They also destroyed the library where [religious] books were kept. They demolished the big hall where we had our Monday and Friday ceremonies and also our Sunday dawn meetings. They took away all the carpets and other property,” he said.
He said the five people were detained, but they were released after the authorities completed the demolition. He that added authorities then dispersed the dervishes who, after hearing the news about the destruction, had gathered around the site.
Source: Radio Free Europe
There are no grounds for imprisoning the seven Baha’i leaders in Iran and they should be released not tried. The Baha’i International Community recently stated
Reports that seven imprisoned Baha’is have been accused of espionage and other crimes and that their case will be referred to the Revolutionary Court next week are deeply concerning, potentially marking a new and dangerous stage in Iran’s persecution of Baha’is, said the Baha’i International Community today.
“The accusations are false, and the government knows this,” said Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i International Community representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “The seven Baha’is detained in Tehran should be immediately released.”
Word of a possible trial against imprisoned Baha’is came yesterday in an Iranian ISNA news agency report quoting Tehran’s deputy public prosecutor, Hassan Haddad. According to the report, a case will be sent to the revolutionary courts next week accusing the seven Baha’is of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic.”
It is presumed that the seven referred to by Mr. Haddad are the group of Baha’i leaders from Tehran who were arrested last year in raids reminiscent of sweeps nearly 30 years ago at the start of the Islamic revolution. Those sweeps led to the execution of dozens of Baha’i leaders at the time. …
To read the full article, go to:
I recently discovered these biographical details of the seven Baha’i leaders wrongfully detained in Iran. I think the biographies highlight the fact that these individuals are making a positive contribution to society in Iran and are in no way deserving of this injustice.
1. Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi
Fariba Kamalabadi, 45 years old, received her postgraduate degree in Education, specializing in Developmental Psychology. She is married with three children – two daughters (one a 13-year-old high school student, and one, married, 20 years old) and one son who was recently married and lives in China.
2. Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani
Jamaloddin Khanjani, a 76-year-old businessman, was the sales manager for Zamzam Company (a soft drink production company) and more recently he managed a brick factory. He is married with three children.
3. Mr. Afif Naemi
Afif Naemi, a 47-year-old industrialist, was expelled from medical school because of his membership in the Bahá’í Faith. He is married with two sons.
4. Mr. Saeid Rezaie
Saeid Rezaie, 50 years old, is a Farming Equipment Engineer. He had a successful business maintaining farming equipment in Shiraz and later he moved to Tehran. In addition to his regular profession, he is a scholar and author. He is married and has three children. Two of his daughters were among 54 Baha’i youth who were arrested in Shiraz in May 2006, while they were engaged in a humanitarian project aimed at helping underprivileged young people. Later they were released and tried.
5. Mrs. Mahvash Sabet
Mahvash Sabet, is a 56-year-old former teacher with a degree in educational planning. While she was working as a teacher she attended a training course for special education Corps, which sent recent graduates to remote areas in Iran to teach in schools. She was expelled from both her job and the training, because of being a Bahá’í. She is married and has two children.
6. Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli
Behrouz Tavakkoli, a 57-year- old lecturer, received a bachelor’s degree in social work and worked as a civil servant until he was expelled because of his belief in the Bahá’í Faith. He is married with two children.
7. Mr. Vahid Tizfahm
Vahid Tizfahm is a 37-year-old optometrist and owner of an optical shop. He received his degree in sociology and later trained as an optometrist. He was born in Tabriz (northwest of Iran) and lived there until mid-2007 when he moved to Tehran with his wife and 8-year-old son.
Iran Press Watch reports the disturbing case of Sina Haghighi who was expelled from school in Iran for Baha’i activities which took place off of campus-
The principle of the school summoned Sina on Tuesday, 2 December 2008, prior to the final exams of the first semester, and informed him that the Board of Education had contacted the school and informed them that Sina was no longer permitted to attend classes or participate in the forthcoming end-of-semester exams. When Sina inquired about the reason for this decision, the principle stated that he was unaware of the details and added, “You must ask the Information Office of the Board of Education.”
When Sina and his elders referred to the aforesaid Information Office, the person in charge stated, “Religious proselytizing is forbidden. He has engaged in proselytizing.”
When asked, “Who has he taught?” the Office responded, “He has given out pamphlets and CDs.”
And when the Baha’is said, “What do events outside of school have to do with what is taking place inside the school?” the response was, “Since it impacts students and their religious convictions, then this is a matter for the Ministry of Education.”
This ruling implies that any Baha’i child practicing their faith is denied an education in Iran.
Iran Press Watch reports that human rights activists in Iran met to discuss freedom of ideas and the rights of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic. The meeting was held at the premises of the “Organization of Iran’s Graduates” in Tehran. This meeting took place in the context of the recent legalization of the death penalty for apostates from Islam and ongoing religious oppression in Iran. The main speaker was Dr. Hashem Aghajari, a muslim scholar and professor of history at the “Tarbyat-e Moddaress” (teacher training college). Dr Aghajari said that the main purpose of the meeting was to “promote a progressive and compassionate view of Divine religions based on peaceful co-existence among all people”. I am impressed by the courage of Dr. Aghajari who was also reported as referring to the views of Ayatollah Montazeri about the civil rights of the Baha’i community in Iran. Dr. Aghajari is quoted as saying “Here we are talking about the land. Citizenry rights are not just civil rights. This means that Iran is a land that belongs to all the people of Iran. These people own the land and rule the land therefore each and everyone is a citizen of this land.”
I am pleased to learn that on the 21st of November the UN General Assembly rejected a “no-action motion” on human rights in Iran. If this motion had been passed it would have annulled a resolution which criticised the Islamic Republic of Iran for its “violent repression” of women, high amount of executions, application of torture, and “increasing discrimination” against Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, Sufis, Christians, Jews, and other minority groups.
I am very concerned to learn from the Telegraph.co.uk that Iranian Christian Ramtin Soodman is being held in prison in Mashad, Iran having being arrested on August 21. Although like the Bahá’í prisoners he has not been formally charged, his sister Rashin fears that her bother may be executed for the ‘crime’ of apostasy as was her father Hossein Soodman in 1990. Hossein Soodman converted to Christianity at the age of 13. Rashin is especially concerned for the fate of her brother as the Iranian parliament recently passed a bill called the “Islamic Penal Code”, which codifies the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves the Islamic faith. (Women would ‘merely’ be sentenced to life imprisonment). Depressingly the new law was passed with an overwhelming majority of 196 to 7 votes…