Iran has lost an important voice of conscience with the passing away last week of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who died at the age of 87. According to Nader Hashemi Assistant Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
On many of Iran’s most sensitive and politically charged debates, Montazeri intervened in an unprecedented manner that marked a clear contrast with the ruling ideology of Iranian regime. On the question of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i minority, he called for the granting of full citizenship rights and rejected longstanding views on the punishment for apostasy in Islam.
The cemetery of the Baha’is of Abadan and Khorramshahr in south western Iran was reduced to rubble in what seems to me to be an attempt to remove all physical record of the community in Iran. This large scale act of desecration was committed in early December and is part of a continuing pattern of vandalism directed at Baha’i graveyards and historical monuments.
Holocaust Memorial Day on the 27th January commemorates the tragic loss of life in the genocides of World War II, in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. I have been asked to provide a Baha’i reading for the service and decided on the following prayer by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for the unity of mankind.
O Thou kind Lord! Thou hast created all humanity from the same stock. Thou hast decreed that all shall belong to the same household. In Thy Holy Presence they are all Thy servants, and all mankind are sheltered beneath Thy Tabernacle; all have gathered together at Thy Table of Bounty; all are illumined through the light of Thy Providence.
O God! Thou art kind to all, Thou hast provided for all, dost shelter all, conferrest life upon all. Thou hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties, and all are submerged in the Ocean of Thy Mercy.
O Thou kind Lord! Unite all. Let the religions agree and make the nations one, so that they may see each other as one family and the whole earth as one home. May they all live together in perfect harmony.
O God! Raise aloft the banner of the oneness of mankind.
O God! Establish the Most Great Peace.
Cement Thou, O God, the hearts together.
O Thou kind Father, God! Gladden our hearts through the fragrance of Thy love. Brighten our eyes through the Light of Thy Guidance. Delight our ears with the melody of Thy Word, and shelter us all in the Stronghold of Thy Providence.
Thou art the Mighty and Powerful, Thou art the Forgiving and Thou art the One Who overlooketh the shortcomings of all mankind.
I am saddened to learn that pressure may have been brought upon a Baha’i in Iran to deny his faith.
According to a report from the Baha’i Committee of Human Rights Activists in Iran, the condition of two Baha’is in Mashhad named [Mrs.] Sonia Ahmadi and Mr. Ghanvatiyan, who were arrested on the 11th of Aban [2 Nov. 2009] by the Office of Intelligence of Mashhad, is unknown, and is a cause of great concern to their families. According to reports from close friends to the families of the individuals mentioned above, since Mr. Ghanvatiyan was a Muslim prior to becoming a Baha’i, [it is being speculated that] he may have been pressured to return to Islam; it is also possible that Sonia Ahmadi may be claimed to be the person who converted him to the Baha’i faith. It is important to note that all of Mr. Ghanvatiyan’s family is Muslim; he joined the Baha’i community more than 30 years ago before the Islamic Revolution [of Iran in 1979]. Editor’s Notes:
Source: Iran Press Watch