For Bahais, a Crackdown Is Old News

Meehandoost

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Sep 4, 2005
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On Religion
For Bahais, a Crackdown Is Old News

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN
Published: June 26, 2009
CLIFTON, N.J.

Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times
Habib Hosseiny and his wife, Ahdieh, in front of a painting of a Bahai leader, Abdul-Baha.

Sometimes during the past two weeks, making her rounds as a hospital resident, Dr. Saughar Samali has caught a glimpse of television news in a patient’s room or heard a bulletin on the radio in the family-practice office. Against her desire, against her better judgment, she has been plunged back into the maelstrom of Iran.

As long as she is on duty, Dr. Samali can suppress what she sees and hears of the marchers, the arrests, the beatings. But when she leaves St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson and returns home to nearby Clifton, the present conjures up a terrible past.

She remembers when her father’s factory in Tehran was set afire, leaving him severely scarred and blind in one eye. She remembers her family’s trying to escape to Pakistan, traveling in a smuggler’s Jeep, headlights out on a midnight desert. She remembers the army bullets that shattered the windshield and pierced the tires, and she remembers the months in prison that followed.

It was 1985, and she was 5 years old. In all the years since, even after a subsequent, successful escape and a new life in the United States, Dr. Samali has not forgotten what it meant to be a Bahai in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“I try to turn my emotions off,” Dr. Samali, 28, said of the current turbulence in Iran. “The Bahais in Iran go through this every day. It’s sad to see this, but maybe this is a way for the truth to come out.”

The Bahais have long served as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine of Iran’s theocracy. Their persecution, as documented over nearly 30 years in numerous human rights reports, has contradicted all the näively hopeful predictions that the hard-line surface of Iran obscures a deeper wellspring of moderation and tolerance.

In 1983, the Iranian government banned all official Bahai activity. Deeming the faith an apostasy, Iran’s fundamentalist Shiite government has denied Bahais higher education, confiscated Bahai property, desecrated Bahai cemeteries and refused to recognize Bahai marriages.

During the recent upheaval, which is essentially a struggle among Shiites over the dubious re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bahais have again served as scapegoats. Supporters of President Ahmadinejad have recycled the canard that Bahais are American spies and secret Zionists, and have added a new one, claiming the British Broadcasting Corporation stands for the Bahai Broadcasting Company.

The rhetorical attacks have coincided with the government’s decision to put seven Bahai leaders on trial on July 11 in a so-called Revolutionary Court. The leaders, arrested in early 2008, face charges of “espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” according to official Iranian press reports. Espionage is punishable by death.

So, for the 165,000 Bahais in the United States, at least 10,000 of whom are refugees from Iran, the questionable election and the crackdown on protesters come as grim confirmation of the government’s character.

“I feel a sense of turmoil in my heart,” said Farhad Sabetan, a spokesman for the Bahai International Community, the organization that represents Bahai interests at the United Nations. “Bahais have gone through this kind of pressure for over the last 30 years, and the way they’ve been treated is how the Iranian people are now being treated.”

The Bahai community in Clifton embodies both stirring achievement and unrelenting tragedy. A mixture of American converts and Iranian immigrants and refugees, the group operates a Bahai center for classes and celebrations and elects a nine-member “spiritual assembly.”

One of those nine, Habib Hosseiny, was born and raised in Iran, becoming a professor of English. He was studying for his master’s degree at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vt., when the Islamic revolution overthrew the shah in 1979. After hearing of the execution of seven Bahai leaders in 1981 in Hamadan — “all my friends, such beautiful people,” Mr. Hosseiny said — he decided not to return.

In the United States, Mr. Hosseiny built a career teaching English as a second language in colleges and high schools. He and his wife, Ahdieh, raised children, who gave them grandchildren. His Bahai friends in Clifton included doctors, engineers and journalists.

All the while, from afar, Mr. Hosseiny followed the waves of persecution in Iran. His father-in-law was imprisoned three times. A gynecologist who served on the spiritual assembly in Mr. Hosseiny’s home city, Kermanshah, was arrested and killed. The Iranian government seized Mr. Hosseiny’s home and all of his savings.

“When you’re strong in your faith, you accept this as a test,” Mr. Hosseiny, 69, said. “You want to take on important, difficult tests, so you can achieve.”

Even after 30 years of official oppression of Bahais, Mr. Hosseiny repeats a mantra that mullahs plainly do not hear: that Bahaism is a religion of peace, that Bahais are not political, that Bahais support the government wherever they live. All the Bahais in Iran want, he said, are the same human rights as other citizens.

As he watches the news, as he tries to call relatives in Iran, as he tracks events as obsessively as Dr. Samali tries to screen them out, Mr. Hosseiny has arrived at a conclusion similar to hers. Maybe the Bahais have achieved some kind of equality at last.

Attacked by the Basij militia and the Revolutionary Guard, assaulted with water cannons and guns, Iranian Muslims, at least the ones who publicly call for fair elections and human rights, are being treated just like Bahais.

E-mail: sgfreedman@nytimes.com

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/27/us/27religion.html?ref=global-home
 

Meehandoost

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Sep 4, 2005
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U.S. panel demands release of Baha'is facing trial in Iran



July 10, 2009 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)


  • (CNN) -- Seven Baha'i prisoners face a death-penalty trial Saturday in Iran amid calls for their release from a U.S. panel on religious freedom.
A U.S. panel on religious freedom has demanded the immediate release of the imprisoned Bahai's.

Responding to a letter from Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist who spent four months in an Iranian jail earlier this year, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) demanded the seven prisoners be freed rather than stand trial on charges of espionage and religious violations. If convicted, they could face execution.

"In addition to the hundreds of Iranians who have been detained in the context of Iran's disputed presidential poll, many other 'security detainees' arrested long before the June election remain behind bars," Saberi said in her letter requesting U.S. government intervention in the Baha'i case.

"These Iranians and the authorities who have detained them need to know that the Iranian people's human rights are a matter of international concern," she said.

Saberi, who was tried, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison on espionage charges, spent time in a cell at Tehran's Evin prison with two of the Baha'i prisoners. Saberi was released in May.

Leonard Leo, chairman of USCIRF, said the crackdown on protests after Iran's June 12 presidential elections "have exposed the world to the cold realities about how the Iranian government regularly deals with dissent or views that are a perceived threat to the theocratic regime."
"The charges against these imprisoned Baha'is are baseless and a pretext for the persecution and harassment of a disfavored religious minority," Leo said. "They should be released immediately."

The seven Baha'is have been held for more than a year without formal charges or access to their attorneys, said Diane Ala'i, representative to the United Nations for the Baha'i International Community.

She said the seven are being legally represented by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani. But according to the human rights group Amnesty International, Soltani was arrested in Iran on June 16 and his whereabouts are unknown.

Ala'i said the lawyers have not had access to their clients though they have been able to read their files.

USCIRF, which is an independent bipartisan federal commission, said the seven Baha'is are charged under the jurisdiction of Branch 28 of Iran's Revolutionary Court, the same judicial process that convicted Saberi in April. The Baha'i prisoners are accused of spying for Israel, spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic and religious offenses.

"This trial is all about them being Baha'i," Ala'i said. "The accusations are completely false."

The Baha'i faith is a world religion that originated in 19th-century Persia but Iran does not recognize it. Baha'is are regarded as apostates and heretics in Iran, where they have long been persecuted.

Ala'i said that since the Islamic revolution in 1979, more than 200 Baha'is have been executed in Iran.

Iran denies that the Baha'i community is mistreated. Earlier this year, prosecutor general Qorban-Ali Dorri Najafabadi, told state-run Press TV that the Iranian government has afforded the Baha'is with "all the facilities offered to other Iranian citizens."

But Najafabadi said there is irrefutable evidence that many Baha'is are in close contact with Iran's enemies and have strong links to Israel.

The treatment of the Baha'is in Iran and the detention of the seven prisoners have attracted global attention.

Human Rights Watch, the world rights monitoring group, last month called for the release of the imprisoned or a prompt trial, with "fair and open proceedings."

Lawyer Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wrote a newspaper column this week urging international pressure before the trial to "ensure the seven men and women receive a fair trial and a chance of justice."

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/07/10/iran.bahais.jail.trial/
 

joonevar22

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Oct 15, 2004
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#3
Its sad to see this happening, but from someone who was married to a bahai I can tell you they don't have any respect for muslims once you get into their circle their true colors come out....I know know its stereotyping and I wish this wasn't the case but the biggest mistake in my life was marrying a bahai...and this is from someone who doesn't believe in my own religion.Go figure!!!
 
Jan 29, 2004
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#4
American Jewish Congress: Where’s the Outrage over Iran’s Baha'i Show Trial?


July 10, 2009 – New York – AJC urged widespread international condemnation of tomorrow’s show trial of seven members of the Baha’i faith in Iran, who face possible execution on fabricated charges of spying for Israel.

“America’s leaders, and all people of good will, should demand the release of these seven victims of religious persecution,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “Ahmadinejad and Khamenei’s jail cells are overflowing with religious minorities, political dissenters, and prisoners of conscience. Where is the outrage?”

Responding to an appeal from Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist who was jailed alongside two of the Baha’i until being freed in May, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has demanded the prisoners’ immediate release. Saberi explained that the “international attention” devoted to her case “helped lead to my release,” and urged similar scrutiny of the plight of the Baha’i.

Harris said, “Over the past month, the Iranian regime has revealed its brutal and untrustworthy nature to the world. Desperate attempts to blame everything on Israel won’t hide the fact that Iran has murdered its own citizens in the streets.”
Since the current regime seized power in 1979, Bahai's in Iran have been the target of extreme persecution, including torture and arbitrary imprisonment, because of their faith.
 
Jan 29, 2004
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#5
Its sad to see this happening, but from someone who was married to a bahai I can tell you they don't have any respect for muslims once you get into their circle their true colors come out....I know know its stereotyping and I wish this wasn't the case but the biggest mistake in my life was marrying a bahai...and this is from someone who doesn't believe in my own religion.Go figure!!!
I agree the militant Bahais are a lot more brain-washed and dogmatic about their beleiefs than the hardcore hezbollahis :geek:
 

Meehandoost

Bench Warmer
Sep 4, 2005
1,836
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#6
Its sad to see this happening, but from someone who was married to a bahai I can tell you they don't have any respect for muslims once you get into their circle their true colors come out....I know know its stereotyping and I wish this wasn't the case but the biggest mistake in my life was marrying a bahai...and this is from someone who doesn't believe in my own religion.Go figure!!!
If your aim was to express regret at the persecution of Baha'is and offer support, and at the same time avoid stereotyping as you say, how do you suppose you fair in those areas? Dragging your marriage into the struggle of Baha'is is clearly a one-sided bluster that diminishes your credibility, for all we know, your ex says the same thing!
 

joonevar22

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Oct 15, 2004
702
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USA
#7
If your aim was to express regret at the persecution of Baha'is and offer support, and at the same time avoid stereotyping as you say, how do you suppose you fair in those areas? Dragging your marriage into the struggle of Baha'is is clearly a one-sided bluster that diminishes your credibility, for all we know, your ex says the same thing!
Meehandoost aziz you must be bahai yourself and I didn't mean to disrespect you as a person in anyway but after what I went through its safe to say I dont have respect for people that are different behind close doors and by the way Bahais are not the only faith that go through this BS in Iran.I dont mind bringing my marraige into this because I learned first hand...things like oh no drinking allowed in the house or oh we cant speak of politics give me a f break its not 200 years ago and yes they do preach their religion all the time...anyways best of luck to you in whatever you believe...hopefully they come out safe.
 

Javeed

National Team Player
Nov 12, 2002
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#8
Its sad to see this happening, but from someone who was married to a bahai I can tell you they don't have any respect for muslims once you get into their circle their true colors come out....I know know its stereotyping and I wish this wasn't the case but the biggest mistake in my life was marrying a bahai...and this is from someone who doesn't believe in my own religion.Go figure!!!
We used to be very closed friends with two different Bahai families and my experience is totally different. Both have moved out of our city. We miss them and are planning to visit one of them during Christmas.
 

Babr

Football Legend
Nov 24, 2002
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#9
Meehandoost aziz you must be bahai yourself and I didn't mean to disrespect you as a person in anyway but after what I went through its safe to say I dont have respect for people that are different behind close doors and by the way Bahais are not the only faith that go through this BS in Iran.I dont mind bringing my marraige into this because I learned first hand...things like oh no drinking allowed in the house or oh we cant speak of politics give me a f break its not 200 years ago and yes they do preach their religion all the time...anyways best of luck to you in whatever you believe...hopefully they come out safe.
So basicly you are saying bcs she didnt let u drink and talk about politic at home made her a bad person !
Am i am missing something ?
 

joonevar22

Bench Warmer
Oct 15, 2004
702
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USA
#10
No, there is alot more then that...I dont want to get into but I totally understand why bahai's stick to bahais...anyways nemikham ziyad bass konam dar mored bahai o islam and stuff but i dont want to take away from the news on this thread my views for bahai's are my views and lets leave it at that...ishalla azad beshan be zoodi
 

joonevar22

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Oct 15, 2004
702
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#11
We used to be very closed friends with two different Bahai families and my experience is totally different. Both have moved out of our city. We miss them and are planning to visit one of them during Christmas.

Javeed jan I never said all, shanse man ina intori boodan...hopefully you have a good time.
 

Bache Tehroon

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Oct 16, 2002
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#12
I can't even count the Bahai friends I have and grown up with and I can tell you they're just like the rest of us. Been through religious bullshit that they mostly don't believe in. Hamamoon ye joorayee badbakhtim. Religion has kept us from realizing our true human potential. This applies to many Christians, Jews and Buddhists too.

I have first hand experience with Bahais and I find the majority of their religion's teachings just as shallow and useless as Islam's.

500 years from now, none of these religions will mean fuck all to most humans.
 

Meehandoost

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Sep 4, 2005
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#13
joonevar22 jaan, I must say of all the beautiful names that is a strange one to choose for oneself but at any rate, since your comments on your personal life story can be taken somehow to imply that the plight of Baha'is is perhaps deserved, I share some points with you and others that may feel that way. Marriage with non-Baha'is is allowed and encouraged in the Baha'i faith to strengthen the bonds of friendship among the various cultures and races. In doing so, however, I believe that one should not forget the prime condition in finding a mate which is sharing common beliefs and values.

For instance, believing in the equality of sexes, the need for a chaste and spiritual life for individuals, refraining from engaging in partisan and divisive politics, social justice and equity for all, elimination of all forms of prejudice, universal education of children, universal language, universal peace and world common wealth are all among the principal beliefs of a Baha'i and it would be very difficult for a Baha'i to share his/her life and children with some one who does not subscribe to these fundamental teachings.

Understandably some humans may grow apart after marriage and even decide to end their marriage, but if they shared common fundamental beliefs and values, they continue to honour those principles and support each other in those struggles. For some one who has been married to a Baha'i and has lived among them and undoubtedly has witnessed their struggles and challenges in their homeland, pardon me for saying so, but I'm afraid you either have failed to connect to your spouse on a human level and honor and support her/him and family in their struggles, or are perhaps still grieving the end of your relationship which may have been recent and are yet to heal from it and move on. Either way, I do hope that you heal from your experience, or meet some one else that will help you to move on with your life. In due time, I'm sure you will also recognize the depth of the persecution of Baha'is and the effects it has not only on that wronged community, but also on retarding the progress of the Iranian nation in general.
 

Meehandoost

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Sep 4, 2005
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#14
I can't even count the Bahai friends I have and grown up with and I can tell you they're just like the rest of us. Been through religious bullshit that they mostly don't believe in. Hamamoon ye joorayee badbakhtim. Religion has kept us from realizing our true human potential. This applies to many Christians, Jews and Buddhists too.

I have first hand experience with Bahais and I find the majority of their religion's teachings just as shallow and useless as Islam's.

500 years from now, none of these religions will mean fuck all to most humans.
No dear, your impression is very superficial and not founded in reality. Whatever your views on Baha'i faith and its teachings, rest assured that Baha'is have accepted them - that's right every one must accept for oneself not by the virtue of one's parents - because they see them as the remedy to the challenges of mankind. They don't even reject the teachings of Islam, rather acknowledge that they were for a different time and now have expired. The truth of the matter is that these liberating Baha'i beliefs and principles are exactly the reason for the sufferings of that community and why they continue to be harassed, fired from jobs, banned from universities, outlawed, jailed and executed.

One emerging trend in recent years among the Islamic "intellectuals" is to dismiss all religions on the accounts of the Islamic republic's shortcomings as though to say if our religion is not true, therefore none other can be true either! Whereas in reality, all are/were true, albeit for different times. It would be a grave mistake and very arrogant to presume to know the will and volition of people 500 years from now.
 

IraneMan

Bench Warmer
Mar 14, 2009
556
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Sydney
#15
Imprisoned for close to 1 year without being charged, what a joke. Hoping for their speedy release from prison and the governments baseless accusations will make anyone laugh. How pathetic.
 

joonevar22

Bench Warmer
Oct 15, 2004
702
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USA
#16
joonevar22 jaan, I must say of all the beautiful names that is a strange one to choose for oneself but at any rate, since your comments on your personal life story can be taken somehow to imply that the plight of Baha'is is perhaps deserved, I share some points with you and others that may feel that way. Marriage with non-Baha'is is allowed and encouraged in the Baha'i faith to strengthen the bonds of friendship among the various cultures and races. In doing so, however, I believe that one should not forget the prime condition in finding a mate which is sharing common beliefs and values.

For instance, believing in the equality of sexes, the need for a chaste and spiritual life for individuals, refraining from engaging in partisan and divisive politics, social justice and equity for all, elimination of all forms of prejudice, universal education of children, universal language, universal peace and world common wealth are all among the principal beliefs of a Baha'i and it would be very difficult for a Baha'i to share his/her life and children with some one who does not subscribe to these fundamental teachings.

Understandably some humans may grow apart after marriage and even decide to end their marriage, but if they shared common fundamental beliefs and values, they continue to honour those principles and support each other in those struggles. For some one who has been married to a Baha'i and has lived among them and undoubtedly has witnessed their struggles and challenges in their homeland, pardon me for saying so, but I'm afraid you either have failed to connect to your spouse on a human level and honor and support her/him and family in their struggles, or are perhaps still grieving the end of your relationship which may have been recent and are yet to heal from it and move on. Either way, I do hope that you heal from your experience, or meet some one else that will help you to move on with your life. In due time, I'm sure you will also recognize the depth of the persecution of Baha'is and the effects it has not only on that wronged community, but also on retarding the progress of the Iranian nation in general.
nokaretam ye dafe goftam ke my beliefs about bahai faith is what i learned from her and sadly to say the 9 ppl that i had gone to speak to didn't really assure of it just been her views alone..any how As i said bahai's should stick to marrying bahai's i know of 3 couples who have got divorce for the same reasons.no one is saying that whats happening in iran to them is fair but then again life isn't fair just ask all those who have lost love ones in the last weeks in iran but then again your most likely not following it since its political....dooste aziz i have moved on but i just brought it up because i and many others have experienced this either through dating bahais.keep in mind as i said before bahais are not the only minority in iran getting a raw deal...so i hope that puts an end to your replies about me...hopefully u teach ur kids differently from what she was taught and teach them that no matter black white yellow or green,no matter jews,muslim,catholic etc we all have the same color blood and we all breathe the same air...their shouldn't be a difference...Ishalla one day shomam betooni to Iran azad bashin just like the other 70 million who want to be
 

Meehandoost

Bench Warmer
Sep 4, 2005
1,836
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#17
joonevar22 jaan - again your choice of name not mine - to some extent you may be right and although Baha'is do not have to marry only Baha'is, but they should marry the ones that also believe in the same principles of equality of sexes, chaste spiritual life, global view on issues, etc. otherwise the marriage is not of the spirits rather only the bodies, and will not last. Even people that have common beliefs and values are tested enough later in their marriage, let alone if there are fundamental core differences, for instance marrying one who is a strong political activist, heavy drinker, very nationalistic, not that you were one of those or all those are the same, but some examples.

Also, you seem to somehow have equated the principle of avoiding partisan politics as being aloof from the events of Iran and Iranians, no dear, Baha'is care deeply for Iran which they consider a holy land, but their approach to its ultimate freedom and justice are different which is outside this discussion and if you do a brief google search you may come across the recent messages about Iran. At any rate, this piece of news was about the plight of the Baha'i "leaders" who have been held captive for over a year without a charge or trial, and are supposed to be going on trial in Islamic republic today. It is OK that it gave you an opportunity to release some of your emotions, but the topic really transcends individuals. I'm glad that you have "moved on" with your life; keep in mind that moving on also includes not relating all things Baha'i to your marriage!
 

Meehandoost

Bench Warmer
Sep 4, 2005
1,836
6
#18
Imprisoned for close to 1 year without being charged, what a joke. Hoping for their speedy release from prison and the governments baseless accusations will make anyone laugh. How pathetic.
Exactly dear, and that was the point of this thread to highlight that these 7 individuals who are the entire membership of the Baha'i leadership institution in Iran have been held captive for over a year without a charge or trial, or even the opportunity to meet with their lawyers one of whom has also been arrested and the other one always threatened, not to say that other religious minorities have no challenges or the rest of the Iranians have no problems, etc. As well, to indicate that supposedly they are going on trial today in Tehran. As it also happens, today is Baha'i Rights Day in relation to these events ... http://www.bahairightsday.org/.
 

Babr

Football Legend
Nov 24, 2002
26,617
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#19
I can't even count the Bahai friends I have and grown up with and I can tell you they're just like the rest of us. Been through religious bullshit that they mostly don't believe in. Hamamoon ye joorayee badbakhtim. Religion has kept us from realizing our true human potential. This applies to many Christians, Jews and Buddhists too.

I have first hand experience with Bahais and I find the majority of their religion's teachings just as shallow and useless as Islam's.

500 years from now, none of these religions will mean fuck all to most humans.
You talk with emotion soroush jan ..
Is not excatlly as what you said :

There are bahai who are not very religious , there are some who are and even the one that are religious they have their normal life like me and u and dont try to influence other people life , opinions ..
sometime u wont notice that a X person is really a religious bahai unless u really become so freindly with him .. he has his normal life like everyone !
ofcourse there are some exception in everything ..but you CANT generalize it man , come on !!
 
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Bache Tehroon

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#20
You talk with emotion soroush jan ..
Is not excatlly as what you said :

There are bahai who are not very religious , there are some who are and even the one that are religious they have their normal life like me and u and dont try to influence other people life , opinions ..
sometime u wont notice that a X person is really a religious bahai unless u really become so freindly with him .. he has his normal life like everyone !
ofcourse there are some exception in everything ..but you CANT generalize it man , come on !!
As I said, they are just like the rest of us! some religious, some half-religious and some not religious at all. They have all been through man-made religious bullshit that happens to be just as useless as the rest of the religions.

Hameye din-ha bedarde laye jerze divar mikhoran. A few particular teachings are interesting and deserve attention, but the rest are mostly charando parand.

The God people whorship has given them a brain. Following a religion instead of your own brain is nothing but "KOON GOSHADI". We have a lot of KOON GOSHAD people on earth.