Local Baha'i Worry About Iran Repression

February 26, 2009

Author: Catherine Buday

Source: Wicked Local Hudson


Nearly three decades ago, Monireh lived the good life in Iran, with a well-paying job at an oil company, a guaranteed pension, a home and money in the bank.

But at midnight one night in 1980, during the early days of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, soldiers knocked on her door and told her she was under arrest for being an official of the Baha’i faith, whose members are considered a threat to Islam. Over her alarmed husband’s protests, Monireh was led away and spent the night in jail.

“Two men with guns came to the door and took me away,” recalled the 83-year-old. “They arrested eight other members of the Bahai General Assembly, and because the otheres were men they kept them in another room. I was by myself.”

While Monireh was let go without being harmed within a day, as the Revolution gained strength she lost her job and her pension. The government confiscated her assets, including her home. She fled her native city for Tehran. Later, with only a suitcase, Monireh and her husband fled to their daughter’s home in Luxembourg. A heart attack claimed her husband a year later.

“I lost everything in this war,” she says.

Today Monireh, who came to the US in 1991 and now lives in Hudson, worries about her Baha’i relatives in Iran, as that country’s Islamic rulers strengthen their repression of that faith. She and her son Riaz – who asked that their last names not be used – will be part of a service this weekend at the First Church in Marlborough-Congregational to raise awareness about the plight of Bahai’s in Iran.

“The reasons we are persecuted go back to the mid-1800s,” said Riaz, who lives in Marlborough with his wife and three children. “We don't believe in clergy, and we believe that men and women are equal. All of this is frightening to the clergy who are running the Iranian government.”

“What happened to my mother is happening today,” Riaz said. “Bahai's can't attend college; they lose pensions; and in some smaller towns and cities their homes are being burned.”

The Baha'is of Greater Marlborough, which has about 30 members in Marlborough and Hudson, are holding a prayer gathering this Saturday, Feb. 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. at First Church in Marlborough, Congregational, 37 High Street (Corner of Bolton Street), to express their concern and support for seven members of their religion who have been in prison in Iran for nearly a year and who are now to stand trial on false charges of spying for Israel and insulting Islam.

The local Interfaith Clergy Association, which includes clergy from Marlborough and Hudson, is participating in the prayer service, and the public is invited to attend.