Iran’s media spreads anti-Baha’i, anti-Israel conspiracy

FarsNews in Iran wrote an article on Monday claiming that Baha’is are spying on Iran directed from “the main center of the sect in Israel.”

July 23, 2019 21:18
1 minute read.
The Bahai gardens, Haifa

The Bahai gardens, Haifa. (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Iranian media accused Baha’i religious minorities of spying and linked them to Israel, claiming a complex conspiracy that involves “several Baha’i espionage projects that require more attention from the responsible authorities.” Iran’s current regime has a long record of suppressing Baha’i religious minorities, including the execution or hanging of up to 200 members of the community since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The Fars news agency in Iran wrote an article on Monday claiming that Baha’is are spying on Iran directed from “the main center of the sect in Israel.” These kinds of articles, inciting against religious minorities, are rarely translated into English so that Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and others can whitewash the country’s record when speaking to Western audiences, as he did on CNN last week. In English, Iran portrays itself as a victim of Western powers. At home, however, the narrative is different.

The report incites against Baha’i “intelligence activities and the relationship of this cult with foreigners related to Israel.” It claims that an investigation showed that the “organization in Iran, with the command of the main center of the sect in Israel, known as the Socialist Revolutionary Guard, identifies individuals and employees from different parts of the state [of Iran].”

While there are around five million Baha’is in the world, the population in Iran, where the religion was founded in the 19th century, is under siege. The Baha’i International Community says that since 2005, around 710 Baha’is have been arrested. Under Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent tenure, despite claims in the West that he is “moderate,” there have been “more than 26,000 pieces of anti-Baha’i propaganda” in the Iranian media.

The recent article detailing a conspiracy in Israel is linked to the fact that the founder of the Baha’i faith was exiled to Acre in the 19th century and a center of pilgrimage was founded in Haifa and near Acre. Although the Baha’i link to Haifa and Acre predates the foundation of Israel and dates to Ottoman times, the location of the center in Israel encourages Iranian media to create conspiracies about the link.

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