The Persian Baha’i dilemma

For over a century, the leadership of the Baha’i community has sought to make their religion a world one and not just one centered on the Middle East and people of Persian/Shiite descent. Yet because the Faith was founded by such people, they tended to be a privileged class in Baha’i communities around the world. Now, however, not so much. It seem ironic that Baha’is taking the anti-racist teachings to heart are now causing problems for some Persian Baha’is.

Read this first:    https://weeklysift.com/2012/09/10/the-distress-of-the-privileged/

As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others.

Now read this:

https://bahaism.blogspot.com/2019/09/an-open-letter-to-kenneth-bowers-from.html

To
Mr. Kenneth E. Bowers
Secretary
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States

I have just read your letter/warnings regarding the activities of one Ms. Bahareh Moghaddam, who you feel is trying to deceive and misguide the Baha’is of Iranian descent by sowing the ‘seeds of discord’. Well, you may or may not be right in your analysis, but as a sincere and third generation Baha’i, I wish to mention that before breaking into pen please follow the principle that Ignorance sometimes is a Bliss (i.e you could have ignored her). Now I am sure many Baha’is will take a chance to connect themselves with the ‘misguided soul’.

Having given my advice to you regarding the Enemies of Faith, I have some very rough and tough questions to ask. You may forward it to Beloved Universal House of Justice for its explanation.

We, Persian Baha’is are concluding that PERSECUTION is something which is destined to us. We face persecution in the country where we pioneer, we face persecution in our own country and now we are facing persecution in our own Faith by fellow Baha’is.

Dear Secretary, we see a very systematic persecution of Persian Baha’is in the Baha’i Administration. It looks like there is systematic cleansing of Persian Baha’is from the Baha’i Administration.

The representation of the Persian Baha’is in the Universal House of Justice has gone down tremendously, and they are being replaced by unskilled, ignorant Baha’is.

The ITC has been cleansed of many Persian Baha’i except Muna Tehrani. The number of Persian Bahai’s as counsellors have come down drastically and the story is not different for the ABMs.

They were asked to leave their place of pioneer where they had established themselves, gained respect, involved themselves in Teaching of the Faith and then asked to settle in some other parts of the world. This is nothing but humiliation and harassment.

The case of Baha’i Scholar Mr. Ahang Rabbani has not been forgotten. After working for 15 years at the World Centre, he died Heart broken.

The way Mr. Ali Nakhjavani was hunted for his misunderstood statement resulting into ignorant Baha’is daring to ask him that why he gave such a statement?

A sincere Persian Baha’i in India was threatened by one of the members of UHJ that he should come in line with the UHJ or face severe consequences.

Jamshed Fozdar and Firoz Anarki were on the brink of being declared Covenant Breakers but some better reasoning prevailed on the UHJ and they stopped from doing such an atrocious act.

There are some misguided Baha’is who are making fake sites in the name of sincere Baha’is for defamation.

A Norwegian Baha’i sent to India made the life of Persian pioneer miserable in India. He was an arch enemy of Persian Baha’is.

Wife of a well-respected former counsellor wanted to attend a Baha’i programme but was refused permission. It was well evident that she was accused of being siding with Persian Baha’is.

The Late Mr. Hasan Sabri along with Isabella Sabri made fun of Persian Baha’is and use to call them KHAR (donkey) and used to say that Persian Baha’is are misguiding other Baha’is.

Many sincere Baha’is were asked not to enter any other countries else face consequences!

We see that if a non-Persian Counsellor retires from his post, he is immediately offered another post in his own country, but if the counsellor is a Persian, and that too a pioneer, never this opportunity of service had been offered to him or his experience used for promotion of the Faith.

A retired counsellor wanted to attend a conference in a foreign country at his own expense but was denied permission by the NSA of that country.

I don’t understand how just for expressing one’s feelings about injustice, is categorized as ‘sowing the seeds of discord’?

I can’t help but think these statements are gross exaggerations. What the writer calls “PERSECUTION” is merely non-Persian Baha’is demanding and getting equality with Persians in terms of social power within the Baha’i communities. If the Baha’i communities around the world have grown to the point that Persians are no longer the overwhelming majority, then the leadership of the Faith needs to reflect that reality. Persians need to stop expecting everything to be handed to them without merit. The Unitarian Universalist Association, a denomination with a white majority, faced a problem of racial justice among themselves in 2017 that forced them to change. If they can do it, so can Baha’is.

For over 300 years, the Roman Catholic Church only elected Italians to the Papacy. It wasn’t until 1978 that John Paul II, who was Polish, became Pope. Since then, it seems Italians have been shut out of becoming Pope, for the two others that have become Pope are also non-Italian (German and Argentinian). I wonder how Italians feel about that.

Jews founded Christianity, only to be excluded and persecuted by Christians later. That was not justice, but neither would have been keeping the Christian communities Jewish dominated, no matter their ethnic makeup. We should keep things balanced and fair for all.

You can either have a single ethnic/linguistic group dominate a religious community forever, or you can have a diverse community spreading around the world. It is wrong to expect both, ever.

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