Geneva, Aug. 19, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The International Baha’i Community has received word of a shocking and outrageous new propaganda ploy to frame the Baha’is in Iran through a staged video production filmed in a kindergarten.
On July 31, the same day that Secret Service agents raided Baha’i homes and arrested preschool teachers, agents also entered a kindergarten in a major Iranian city and distributed Baha’i books and pamphlets to its teachers, none of whom he was a Baha’i. The agents then instructed and forced the kindergarten staff to say, on camera, that the Bahá’ís had brought these materials and distributed them to the teachers.
“This shameful act of fraud and pretense, carried out in a kindergarten, once again reveals the true motivations of the Iranian government to persecute Baha’is just for their faith,” said Simin Fahandej, BIC’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva . “Since the Iranian government has found no evidence for their ridiculous accusations against the Baha’is, they have now resorted to fabricating evidence themselves, using Baha’i materials to accuse the Baha’is of trying to influence and convert Muslim children to the Baha’i Faith .”
Although the Iranian government tries to label Baha’is as child converts to Muslims, many official government documents testify to Iran’s plans to convert, in fact, Baha’i children to Islam.
In 1991, a confidential government memorandum, brought to light at the time by a United Nations Special Rapporteur, drawn up by Iran’s Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council and signed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, which guided the children Baha’is to be enrolled in schools have “a strong and imposing religious ideology” and that Baha’is are treated in such a way as to “impede their progress and development”.
“The Iranian government is not only trying to distort history in school textbooks to remove the Baha’i faith from Iranian history and force Baha’i children to change their faith,” Ms. Fahandej continued. “But now she is producing fake materials to advance her already baseless claims against the Bahá’ís.”
This incident occurred in a wider context of increasing attacks against Baha’is in Iran in recent weeks. Since July 31, BIC has received reports of more than 196 separate incidents of persecution against Baha’is in Iran, including arrests, imprisonments, confiscations of homes and properties, business closures, and university expulsions.
Iran’s Ministry of Information issued a rare statement on July 31, claiming that members of the Baha’i community “are teaching the teachings of manufactured Bahai colonialism and infiltrating educational environments,” including kindergartens. Several Bahá’í kindergarten teachers and teachers were arrested that day under the pretext offered by the Ministry’s statement. The filming of the staged readings now also demonstrates that the authorities may want to use video to substantiate their false claims and seek to incite the general public against them.
Attempts to spread hate propaganda against Baha’is are government policy. The 1991 memorandum from Iran’s Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council also said that Iran’s “propaganda institutions … should establish an independent department to deal with … the Baha’is.”
And in March 2021, two human rights groups, the Union for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran and the International Federation for Human Rights, published an official Iranian directive instructing local authorities in the city of Sari, in the northern province of Mazandaran , to “carry out strict controls” on Baha’is in the city “monitoring their businesses” and to introduce measures to “recognize Baha’i students” in order to “bring them to Islam”.
“Iranian authorities have been spreading hate propaganda against Baha’is for 43 years,” Ms Fahandej said. “But Iranians of goodwill, numbering in the millions, see through these lies. The incident at the kindergarten is the latest in a shameful litany of gross deception, propaganda and hate speech, but these efforts do not go unnoticed by the international community and only work against Iran’s interests, showing its true motivations to persecute innocent people just for beliefs.”
CONTACT: James Samimi Farr U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs 202.833.8990 firstname.lastname@example.org