Foreign Minister shares SP concerns over position of Baha’i in Iran

15 May 2013

Foreign Minister shares SP concerns over position of Baha’i in Iran

During today’s parliamentary debate on freedom of religion and belief, Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans stated his agreement to the call from SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel to draw the Iranian authorities attention to the perilous situation of the Baha’i community in their country. ‘For five years seven Baha’i leaders have languished in prison without justification, simply as a result of their beliefs,’ says Van Bommel. ‘I am extremely worried about this and am pleased that the minister shares these concerns and has agreed to ask the Iranian ambassador to give his attention to this. United Nations human rights experts called on Iran earlier this week to release these religious leaders with immediate effect.’

Harry van BommelThe Baha’i faith is a relatively new religion, having been founded in the nineteenth century. In Iran it has several hundred thousand adherents, who form the country’s largest religious minority, a community whose human rights are frequently abused. Followers of the Baha’i faith may not, for example, exercise their religion openly and their belief system has no official recognition as a religion. In addition, adherents are discriminated against in that they can be excluded from education as well as from the civil service.

‘I sincerely hope that the minister’s interview with the Iranian authorities regarding this matter will raise the pressure and that the seven leaders will soon be back at liberty,’ says Van Bommel. ‘Religion should never be a reason for people to be locked up.’

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