August 20, 2022
The Baha’i International Community (BIC) today reported news of an effort to incriminate the Baha’is in Iran through a staged video production, filmed in a kindergarten, designed to produce proaganda footage that would show Baha’is teaching their religion in educational establishments.
On 31 July, according to the latest BIC statement, and the same day that intelligence agents were invading Baha’i homes and arresting pre-school teachers, agents also entered a kindergarten in a major city in Iran and distributed Baha’i books and pamphlets to its teachers, none of whom were Baha’is. The agents reportedly instructed and forced the kindergarten staff to say, on camera, that Baha’is had brought these materials and distributed them to the teachers.
A statement released by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence statement that day claimed the Baha’is in Iran were “propagating the teachings of the fabricated Baha’i colonialism and infiltrating educational environments,” including kindergartens. A number of Baha’i kindergarten and pre-school teachers were arrested under the pretext offered by the Ministry’s statement. The BIC rejected the allegations as baseless.
The BIC said in its statement that filming the staged readings demonstrated that the authorities may want to potentially use video footage to substantiate their claims and seek to incite the general public against them.
“This shameful act of fraud and pretense, carried out in a kindergarten, once again reveals the true motives of the Iranian government in persecuting Baha’is only for their faith,” said Simin Fahandej, the BIC’s Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. “As the Iranian government has found no shred of evidence for their ludicrous accusations against the Baha’is, they have now resorted to fabricating evidence themselves, using Baha’i materials to accuse Baha’is of attempting to influence and convert Muslim children to the Baha’i Faith.”
The BIC also noted that the incident occurred within a larger context of mounting attacks against the Baha’is in Iran in recent weeks. IranWire has reported on these arrests, imprisonments, destruction and confiscation of homes, raids and denials of entry to university, which together amount to a new crackdown on Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority.
Yesterday a new report emerged of court orders to confiscate more homes owned by Baha’is in Semnan, Mazandaran province, in the north.
A recent IranWire interview with the historian Moojan Momen found that the Iranian government is trying to “cleanse” the Baha’is from a country because they refuse to accept that the Baha’i faith is a religion.
The Iranian government has worked for years to spread hate propaganda against the Baha’is. A 1991 memorandum by Iran’s Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council, and signed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said that Iran’s “propaganda institutions … must establish an independent section to counter … the Baha’is.”
A campaign last year, #StopHatePropaganda, gathered global support for the Iranian Baha’i community and rejected more than 40 years of unproven allegations against the Baha’is.
And in March 2021 two human rights groups, League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran and the International Federation for Human Rights, published an official Iranian directive which instructed local authorities in the city of Sari, in the northern province of Mazandaran, to “conduct strict controls” on the Baha’is in the city by “monitoring their operations,” and to introduce measures to “identify Baha’i students” so as to “bring them into Islam.”