Iran News ...


07/30/18

Man Convicted of National Security Crimes in Iran For Allegedly Promoting His Baha'i Faith

Source: Center for Human Rights in Iran

The Appeals Court in Iran's Kurdistan Province has upheld a one-year prison sentence against Zabihollah Raoufi, who was accused of proselytizing his Baha'i faith. He has also been condemned to a year in exile in the remote desert town of Minab, Hormozgan Province-a term he must serve after his prison sentence according to the verdict issued on July 22, 2018.


Zabihollah Raoufi

The charges against the 69-year-old shopkeeper were "propaganda against the state" and "assembly and collusion against national security by promoting Baha'ism," a Baha'i source who asked not to be identified told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on July 26.

Raoufi's wife, Parvaneh Rahimi, has also been sentenced to a year in prison for the charge of "propaganda against the state" and is awaiting a decision on her appeal.

"Several people who associated with Mr. Raoufi were arrested by the Intelligence Ministry [in Sanandaj city] and when they were asked questions about him, they denied he was proselytizing and said he would only respond if he was asked about his faith," said the source.

"But the Intelligence Ministry agents said that even giving a response is considered proselytizing and that Baha'is have been warned that they should not answer questions from non-Baha'is about their religion," added the source. 

Iran's Constitution does not recognize the Baha'i faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that "no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief," followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country. 

Raoufi was previously arrested in 2009 and sentenced to six months in prison for the charge of "propaganda against the state," a term he served in Tuyserkan, Hamadan Province. 

His latest arrest was carried out by Intelligence Ministry agents in Sanandaj in May 2015. He was released on bail after a week of interrogations while being held in solitary confinement without access to legal counsel.

Raoufi's preliminary trial took place on November 24, 2015. Five days later, his wife was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison by a preliminary court.

In May 2018, the Baha'i International Community (BIC) at the United Nations expressed alarm over a spate of arrests of Baha'is in three Iranian provinces: Khorasan Razavi, Isfahan and Alborz.

"Baha'is have been arrested since the inception of the Islamic Republic. But this new wave of arrests, that is taking place more rapidly and throughout Iran, raises concern for the BIC about their situation and the fate of all the Baha'is living in Iran," Diane Ala'i, the non-governmental organization's representative to the UN in Geneva, said in an interview with CHRI.

Woman Expelled From Iranian University Just Before Obtaining Degree Because She's Baha'i

A young Baha'i woman was expelled from Iran's Islamic Azad University in the city of Isfahan one semester before completing her bachelor's degree in architecture because of her religious beliefs.

"Sarir Movaghan had declared she was a Baha'i in the university enrollment form and got accepted without a problem, but four years later just before her final exams, she was expelled even though she had not tried to preach her religion during school years," a source close to Movaghan's family informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran on July 26, 2018.

The 23-year-old had been enrolled in the university since 2014.

"On May 22 [2018], she was contacted by phone and told that her student file was incomplete and that she had to come to the university to take care of it," added the source who requested anonymity for security reasons.

"Then her access to the university's website was cut off," continued the source. "When she went to the university, she was told that she was a Baha'i and should have known that she could not be at the university."

Baha'is are denied the right to higher education in Iran every year either by being banned from enrolling in university or being expelled without a proper explanation once enrolled in the school.

The university also refused to give Movaghan a transcript of the credits she had earned.

Iran's Constitution does not recognize the Baha'i faith as an official religion. Although Article 23 states that "no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief," followers of the faith are denied many basic rights as one of the most severely persecuted religious minorities in the country. 

In March 2018, Soha Izadi and Arash Razavian were expelled in March 2018 from universities in the cities of Zanjan and Gilan because of their religion. 

The unofficial ban contradicts recent claims by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that being "a Baha'i is not a crime" in Iran.

... Payvand News - 07/30/18 ... --



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