Religious Diversity News

10 Homes Raided In Mashhad – 2 Baha’is Arrested

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Iran Press Watch

The Department of Intelligence visited the home of ten Bahais and subsequently arrested two of those visited.

In an organized and systematic manner, the Iranian Security Forces, after attacking homes in Sari, Semnan, Ghaemhashr and Tehran over the past few months, attacked the Bahai homes in Mashhad yesterday, January 26th (7th of Bahman).

The Intelligence forces attacked at least ten Bahai homes, namely those who serve the Bahai community in some official capacity in the city of Mashhad. Among those attacked were homes of Mr. Sirous Zabihi, Mr. Soheil Nasirzadeh, Mr. Davar Nabilzadeh, where the forces confiscated personal belongings, pictures of religious figures, religious texts, computers and even religious jewelry.

During these confrontations at least two members of the Bahai community, Ms. Sima Eshraghi and Mr. Jalayer Vahdat, were arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location. There is no further information available regarding the two aforementioned individuals.

150th Anniversary of the Baha’i Religion

Source: Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

On January 14, 2003 Religion and Ethics Newsweekly reported that “this year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Baha’i religion. It originated in the Middle East. The name ‘Baha’i’ comes from the Persian word meaning ‘glory’ or ‘splendor.’ Baha’is believe, among other things, that all the great religious founders have come from God, and that all religious systems established by them are part of a single divine plan directed by God.” The Baha’i religion took root in this country in the late 19th century.”

2,000 In Clearwater, Faith Communities Come Together in Prayer and Compassion

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On September 10, 2005 the St. Petersburg Times reported, “The Rev. Leddy Hammock held a candle and looked up at the dozens of people at an interfaith remembrance service for Hurricane Katrina victims Tuesday.

‘We gather to rebuild a levee against all human tears,’ she told them.

A few minutes later, the lights were dimmed, and each person in the octagon-shaped sanctuary held up a single lighted candle, asking God to help the evacuees and to forgive the dead of their misdeeds, if any.

The event at the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater brought together religious leaders of several faiths and traditions, including Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Scientology and Jewish.

The idea for the special service came from Ahmed Bedier of the Council for American Islamic Relations.”

2000 Glenmary Research Center Survey of Religious Congregations in America

Source: The Columbus Dispatch

On September 27, 2002 The Columbus Dispatch reported that “the [Glenmary] study estimates that Ohio has 142,255 Jews, 41,281 Muslims and 2,004
Bahais. It found 34 Buddhist, 19 Hindu, nine Sikh and seven Jain groups in the
state but gave no membership estimates… This year’s study included groups such as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and
Sikhs for the first time. For Muslims, the 1.6 million national figure included
only those who regularly attend mosques that reported figures; for Eastern
religions, it included only the number of worship groups.”

2nd Suspicious Fire Destroys Religious Center

Author: Staff Writer

Source: WFTV


A massive fire destroyed an Orlando religious center just after midnight Tuesday and officials say it is the second fire in three days. Investigators are saying that an arsonist is likely to blame.

Flames were shooting from the roof when a police officer drove by and saw the Baha’i Center of Orlando on Hillcrest Street near Colonial Drive (t; target=”0″>see map) on fire again Tuesday morning.

The back of the building was already destroyed in a fire Saturday. Now, the entire religious worship center is a loss.

Demolition crews worked Tuesday to tear down the worship center.

41 Student Religious Groups at UNC Mirror Religious Diversity in US

Source: The Daily Tar Heel

On November 30, 2005 The Daily Tar Heel reported, “UNC’s spiritual life in many ways serves as a microcosm of greater society.

The 41 registered student religious groups mirror the variety of faith in the U.S., with groups ranging from Baha’is to Baptists.

And though there’s no sign Americans are going to church more often… several UNC religious student groups have shown significant growth during the past several years.

Campus Crusade for Christ has about 650 people attending Bible studies and has seen about a 10 percent growth per year during the past three years, says Miles O’Neill, campus director of Campus Crusade.

Jewish life on campus also has been growing each year, says Or Mars, executive director of N.C. Hillel, though Hillel does not keep membership numbers… The Muslim Students Association also has increased from about 15 students in 2003 to about 60 now, says Uzma Khan, president of the MSA… The Interfaith Alliance, which meets every other week, was started this year ‘to promote dialogue, tolerance and education,’ says Matthew Wright, a board member at the alliance and representative for the Episcopal Campus Ministry.”

54 Baha’i Youth Arrested in Iran

Source: Baha’i World News Service

On May 24, 2006 the Baha’i World News Service reported, “Iranian officials have arrested 54 Baha’is in the city of Shiraz, the Baha’i International Community has learned. They are mostly youth and were all engaged in humanitarian service when they were arrested. It is one of the largest number of Baha’is taken at once since the 1980s. The specific charges are not clear, though in the past, Baha’is have been arrested summarily on false charges.

The arrests occurred on Friday, 19 May, while the Baha’is, along with several other volunteers who were not Baha’is, were teaching classes to underprivileged children in a school as part of a community service activity conducted by a local non-governmental organization. At the time of the arrests, they had in their possession a letter of permission from the Islamic Council of Shiraz. They also carried the letter of permission in each of their classes.

The nature of the charges against the Baha’is is unknown at this time. The day following the arrests, a judge told family members that the detainees would be freed soon. As of today, it appears that all of the non-Baha’is and one Baha’i junior youth have been released without having to post bail.

The arrests coincided with raids on six Baha’i homes during which notebooks, computers, books, and other documents were confiscated. In the last 14 months, 72 Baha’is across Iran have been arrested and held for up to several weeks… The arrests come against a backdrop of increasing concern by international human rights monitors that the Iranian Government is escalating its 25-year-long campaign of persecution against the 300,000-member Baha’i community of Iran, the largest religious minority in that country.”

A Baha’i Contribution to Scottish Parliament’s “Time for Reflection”

Source: Baha’i World News Service

On February 6, 2006 the Baha’i World News Service reported, “Representatives of the Baha’i Faith were invited recently to address Scotland’s Parliament as part of the body’s weekly proceeding that allows people from different faiths to share their perspectives on the challenges facing the country. It was the first time an invitation had come from a Member of Parliament.
Carrie Varjavandi, a Baha’i from Dundee, addressed the body on 18 January 2006 during its ‘Time for Reflection.’

Ms. Varjavandi invited Parliament members to consider the current world situation. ‘The world today faces apparently intractable problems, which governments and peoples are striving courageously to solve: climate change, poverty and religious fanaticism to name but a few,’ she said.

She then suggested that the spiritual teachings of Baha’u’llah not only identified disunity as the underlying cause of these problems, but also offered a solution.

‘”The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established,”‘ she said, quoting Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith.”

A Baha’i Devotional Meeting

Source: The Fresno Bee

On June 30, 2001, The Fresno Bee reported on “a recent
devotional meeting at the Fresno Baha’i Center [in California]…There’s no clergy. All readers are members.”

A Book-Dealer Arrested In Arak Accused Of Being Baha’i

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Iranian Press Watch

The following news report was posted in Persian on Peyke Iran and Pezchvake Iran online sites:

According to reports received at our office, a cultural activist in Arak by the name of Kamran Jamshidi, the manager of Shahr-Ketab bookstore in that town, was arrested nearly two weeks ago after an inspection of his store by the agents of Public Buildings Office. After 24 hours, he was transferred to the custody of the Ministry of Intelligence in the same city.

Through persistent efforts of his family and after approximately 10 days of illegal incarceration by the Intelligence Ministry, he was transferred to Arak’s general prison, though he continues to be in custody of the Intelligence office. It has been reported that during this entire two weeks, he remained incommunicado and no visitors were allowed to meet with him.

He is charged with spreading information about the Baha’i Faith.

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