A Review Of Freedom Of Religion Websites

I have posted this brief review of freedom of religion websites as I thought others in the blogosphere may find it useful.

The International Religious Liberty Association  (IRLA) claims to be ‘the oldest association dedicated to freedom of conscience for all people’. The organisation is affiliated to the Seventh Day Adventist Church and based in the United States.  From what I can see the website mostly concentrates on the legal or policy aspects of freedom of religion with little or no news on the persecution of individuals or groups because of their beliefs. This appears borne out by their statement that ‘A primary aspect of the IRLA’s work is to ensure that religious freedom has the highest possible visibility on the world scene.  To that end, we hold congresses, regional conferences, national symposiums, and local meetings—all aimed at making sure issues of religious freedom remain high on society’s agenda.  For despite the importance of international covenants and national legislation, without public support for religious freedom, any gains remain at the level of theory rather than practice’.

Forum 18 is based in Norway and according to their own description ‘is a Christian web and e-mail initiative to provide original reporting and analysis on violations of the freedom of thought, conscience and belief of all people, whatever their religious affiliation, in an objective, truthful and timely manner. It mainly publishes on the former Soviet states, notably Belarus and Central Asia, but also publishes original work on states such as Serbia and Turkey. Forum 18 works for religious freedom for all on the basis of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’’ Their website seems a very useful source of news for the region they cover.

The International Coalition for Religious Freedom is affiliated to the Unification Church and claims to be ‘a non-profit, non-sectarian, educational organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of all, regardless of creed, gender or ethnic origin. ICRF acknowledges with gratitude that, at the current time, it receives the bulk of its funding from institutions and individuals related to the Unification Church community’. They appear to concentrate on New Religious Movements. I am not sure if this site is still active as their newsletter has not been updated since 2004.

http://www.uscirf.gov/  is a very comprehensive U.S Government website with a wealth of news and information on Freedom of Religion throughout the world.  According to the website ‘The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor the status of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief abroad, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international instruments, and to give independent policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress’

The International Association For Religious Freedom  (IARF) appears to concentrate on interfaith activity and promoting awareness of issues of religious freedom through conferences and reports The organisation describes itself as’ a UK-based charity working for freedom of religion & belief at a global level. We have a century-plus history of encouraging interfaith dialogue & tolerance, with member groups in 25 countries, from faith traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Shinto & Zoroastrianism’. Somewhat like IRLA there is very little reportage of the persecution of individuals and groups for their beliefs.


Iranian Authorities Ban Newspaper For Baha’i Temple Picture

Iranian authorities have banned the country’s largest-circulation newspaper for publishing a photo of a Baha’i temple, state media reported Monday. Iran’s Shiite cleric-led regime views the Baha’i religion as heretical and has banned it since the 1979 revolution. The photo also gave Iran’s leaders an opportunity to silence the Hamshahri daily…Hamshahri was ordered closed by the Press Supervisory Board, a government agency run by hard-liners, for printing an advertisement containing a photo of a Baha’i temple that encourages tourists to visit the shrine, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Source: Associated Press

Baha’i Musician Imprisoned In Iran

I am concerned to learn that a Baha’i musician has been wrongfully imprisoned in Iran.

Behnam Rohani-Fard, a Bahai Musician and composer  who had resided in Tehran for some time traveled to the city of Yazd to participate in the mourning ceremony arranged for one of his family members.  In the morning hours of Monday, October 12, Mr. Rohani-Fard was detained by Intelligence agents while driving in his private car; he was taken to an undisclosed location.

In repeated follow-ups made by Mr. Rohani-Fard’s wife, she was told that her husband would be released in one week and his detention was related to his change of residence, as well as chanting religious Bahai songs. 

Readers are reminded that Mr. Rohani-Fard was a target of investigation by agents from the Intelligence Ministry in March 20 of this year.  During the investigation, Mr. Rohani-Fard’s computer and some of his personal effects were confiscated.  The agents carried a search warrant and an issued sentencing for a one-year suspended jail term, effective for the next four years.


Minoo’s Recipe For ‘Khoresht-e-aloo va esfenaj’

‘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
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ cups of split peas
  • 3-4 cups of water


  1. Boil split peas separately until almost soft
  2. Fry the lamb, onions and dried plums in a medium pan over a moderate heat until they turn golden-brown, adding salt to taste.
  3. Add 3-4 cups of water, add split peas, put lid on pan and simmer for c. 25 minutes
  4. Add spinach and simmer for a further 15 minutes
  5. Serve with Persian-style white rice

Baha’i Abducted And Tortured In Shiraz

In a case of shocking brutality a member of Shiraz’s Baha’i community has been abducted and tortured.

According to HRANA [Human Rights Activists News Agency], based on reports from the Baha’i Committee of Human Rights Activists in Iran, Mr. Rouh’u’llah Rezaie, a 45-year-old Baha’i in Shiraz, was stopped, kidnapped, and moved to an unknown place as he was returning home, to his wife and child, from a gas station early in the morning on 8/8/1388 [October 27,2009]. There, he was threatened, insulted, and subjected to a simulated hanging in a show-execution. He was left naked in extreme cold, and different parts of his hands, chest, and forehead were burnt by cigarettes. Finally, he was released on a road in the suburbs of Shiraz.

Source: http://www.iranpresswatch.org/post/5272