Video highlights from the event 'An Evening in Support of the Baha'is of Iran which took place in Washington DC on Sept. 12th, 2009. See the story on this event for more details.
View the video after the jump.Read more...
Washington, D.C. – Sept. 12, 2009
Speaking to a crowd of over 1,400 people packed into The George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium on September 12, Dr. Azar Nafisi, best-selling author; Ms. Shohreh Aghdashloo, Oscar-nominated actress; and Dr. Dwight Bashir, Associate Director for Policy at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, joined the swelling worldwide chorus speaking out for human rights in Iran. On this particular evening, their message focused on Iran’s long-suffering Baha'i religious minority.
In a moving and impassioned presentation, Dr. Nafisi spoke about the common humanity of all people and the suffering of one being the suffering of all. She reflected on the significance of the fact that her beloved country, which she grew to love, with its ancient heritage, its beautiful language and its poets, the homeland of great religions and an early pioneer of human rights and religious freedom, should be diminished in the way it has because of its mistreatment of its Baha'i citizens. She said their struggle is an existential struggle, because in many ways they are being systematically denied the opportunity to exist.
Dr. Bashir began his presentation by quoting from President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo: “People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways … Among some Muslims, there’s a disturbing tendency to measure one’s own faith by the rejection of somebody else’s faith ...”
“The last part of President Obama’s statement is exactly what we are witnessing in Iran today,” Dr. Bashir said.
He then provided a snapshot of the deplorable status of human rights and religious freedom in Iran, including deteriorating conditions for Baha’is, Christians, Muslim minorities and dissidents. Bashir urged the U.S. government to raise religious freedom and related human rights in any future bilateral or multilateral discussions with Iran.
Dr. Bashir also cited a letter addressed to the Commission from Iranian-American journalist Ms. Roxana Saberi, which urges the Obama Administration to speak out in support of seven Baha'i leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran on false charges, some of which could carry the death penalty. Ms. Saberi shared a prison cell with the two female Baha’i leaders when she was detained in Evin prison earlier this year..
Ms. Shohreh Aghdashloo addressed the gathering via video from Los Angeles. She began by voicing her support for the Iranian Baha’is and expressing her desire to see more freedom in her beloved homeland. Ms. Aghdashloo also said that although she is not a member of the Baha’i community, she has great admiration and respect for Baha’is and for the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. She also read a monologue from her upcoming film entitled Mona's Dream — the true story of a 16-year-old Iranian girl who was executed in 1983 for teaching Baha’i children's classes.
Another highlight of the evening was a dramatic presentation by seven Baha'i children from the DC Metro area, each of whom expounded on the life of one of the seven imprisoned Iranian Baha'i leaders while the prisoner's picture was projected behind them. The Metropolitan Washington Baha'i Chorale led by Van Gilmer also performed several songs, including a prayer that was originally taught by Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, to fellow prisoners while they were incarcerated in a dungeon in Tehran in the 1850's.
Bahá'ís from communities in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area will host a public gathering in support of religious freedom and human rights in Iran on Saturday, September 12 at 7 p.m. at the Lisner Auditorium of George Washington University. The event is dedicated to seven Iranian Baha’i leaders who have been imprisoned in Tehran for more than a year on false charges stemming from their membership with the country’s Baha’i religious minority.
We entreat God to deliver the light of equity and the sun of justice from the thick clouds of waywardness, and cause them to shine forth upon men. No light can compare with the light of justice. The establishment of order in the world and the tranquillity of the nations depend upon it. - Baha'u'llah
May 29 marks the anniversary of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith. The day is one of nine holy days on which Baha'is suspend work and school.
Baha’u’llah died after a brief illness in 1892 in the mansion of Bahji outside Akka, in what is now northern Israel. After spending most of His life in exile, He was able to live his later years at Bahji in relative tranquility. He was buried in a small stone house adjacent to the mansion. This Shrine is the holiest place on earth for Baha’is, the place toward which they turn in prayer each day.
Six days before His death, Baha’u’llah gathered his followers and family members and delivered what would be His last address to them:
"I am well pleased with you all. Ye have rendered many services, and been very assiduous in your labors. Ye have come here every morning and every evening. May God assist you to remain united. May He aid you to exalt the Cause of the Lord of being."
For a week after Baha’u’llah’s death, writes Shoghi Effendi, “a vast number of mourners, rich and poor alike, tarried to grieve with the bereaved family. . . Notables, among whom were numbered Shí'ahs, Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Druzes, as well as poets, ulamas and government officials, all joined in lamenting the loss. . .”
This Friday evening, the Baha’is of Washington, D.C. will commemorate the Declaration of the Bab at the D.C. Baha’i Center.
The Báb—born Siyyid `Alí-Muhammad in Shiraz, Persia (now Iran)—announced on May 22, 1844, that He was the bearer of a Divine Revelation which would prepare humanity for the advent of the Promised One of all religions. That Promised One, the Báb declared, was destined to usher in the age of justice, unity and peace promised in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and all the other world religions. Bahá'u'lláh, one of the Báb's leading advocates, announced in April 1863 that He was the Divine Messenger the Báb had promised.
Today, May 14, marks the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of seven Baha'i leaders in Iran, who have spent a year in jail without formal charges or access to their lawyer, Shirin Ebadi. The families of the prisoners were recently informed that a new accusation has been lodged against them by the Iranian government, the charge of “spreading corruption on earth,” which carries the threat of death under Iran's penal code.
These charges are completely baseless, and the Baha’is of D.C. are very concerned for the safety and well-being of their co-religionists in Iran.
D.C. Baha’is are writing to their members of Congress, and urging others to do the same, to gather additional cosponsors for two resolutions, H.Res 175 and S.Res.71, currently before the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate respectively, which call for the release of the Iranian Baha'i leaders and other Baha’i prisoners.
From April 21 to May 2, the DC Baha'i community celebrates Ridvan, considered the holiest period of the Baha’i calendar, which commemorates the Baha’i Founder's public declaration in 1863 of His mission as God's messenger for today.
Baha'i communities across the United States will hold gatherings for fellowship and devotions, as well as the annual elections for the faith's leadership at the national and local levels.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 April 2009 07:17 ) Read more...
Mr Rezvan Tavakkoli, brother of imprisoned “Friends of Iran” member Behrouz Tavakkoli, shared insights about the situation of the Baha’is in Iran at a dinner on March 2. Read more to find photographs of the event from Debbie Jerome or go here to see the event invitation.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 September 2009 15:45 ) Read more...
The Washington, DC metro Baha'i community along with the Howard University campus commemorated the 1912 visit of Abdu'l-Baha to Rankin Chapel with a rich artistic program on April 4.
The program included musical performances by New Creation and Talia Safa, Darnell Moore, Gilberto Issac Saavedra and the Baha'i Chorale of DC. Poets and spoken word performers included Farinaz Firouzi, Andrea Noel, Dustin Baker and Lisa Robinson.
Read about the bus tour and view photos of the history tour at the web site of the Arlington Baha'i community.
View the photos of the wonderful evening after the jump.
Update (4/24/2009): The video that introduced the program is now available after the images below.Last Updated ( Friday, 24 April 2009 18:29 ) Read more...
The best way to meet the Baha'is is to join us in our regular activities including:*Sunday morning devotions & presentation.
Founded by Baha'u'llah in the mid-1800s, the Baha'i Faith is among the fastest-growing of the world's religions. Baha'is live in more than 100,000 localities around the world, which reflects their dedication to the ideal of world citizenship.