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Iran cracks down on Bahai followers, intensifies arrests over accusations of Israel links

Tehran Edited By: C KrishnasaiUpdated: Aug 02, 2022, 06:16 PM IST
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Photograph:(Reuters)

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Bahais in Iran have been subjected to harassment ever since the inception of the Islamic republic in 1979

Iranian officials have arrested a number of ardent followers of the banned Bahai faith for alleged links to a centre in Israel, and for proselytising in schools and kindergartens.

On Monday, Iran’s intelligence ministry said several of them have been arrested but did not give out further information as to how many were arrested or when the arrests were made.

But the Bahais in Iran, who have been subjected to harassment ever since the inception of the Islamic republic in 1979, claimed that at least dozens of the community members, including three of its former leaders, had been arrested, summoned or subjected to house searches in June and July, reports AFP news agency.

They claimed that these arrests were part of the “government’s escalating persecution of Iran’s Baha’i community.”

The intelligence ministry further said that the detainees “had been carrying out extensive propaganda missions to propagate Baha’i teachings” and to “infiltrate various levels of the educational sector across the country, especially kindergartens.”

It claims they have been promoting a campaign for women's unveiling in Iran.

The ministry accused the community members of spying for a centre in the Israeli port city of Haifa, where a holy Baha’i shrine was built last century.

The Islamic republic recognises minority faiths such as Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, but does not extend the same recognition to Bahaism, which has an estimated 300,000 followers in Iran.

Iran often makes accusations linking Bahais to Israel, whose northern Haifa city hosts a centre of the Bahai faith. The centre was established following the exile of the Bahai leader just before the State of Israel was established.

(With inputs from agencies)

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