Kayhan Newspaper, Tehran’s major daily news organ, often publishes articles that are sad examples of yellow journalism and in fact on rare occasions that somebody buys this paper, it must be for its entertainment (read, fictional!) value. In line with its “journalistic policies”, Kayhan is driven by sensationalism, and in order to cause hysteria, what subject is better than vilifying the Baha’is. Well, actually better than Baha’is is a story on Baha’is and Israel combined – that combination should sell a few copies! So on a regular basis Kayhan publishes articles attacking and defaming Baha’is, and when it can, it also throws in Israel for good measure.

One such article was published in its recent 10 Mehr 1386 [2 October 2007] issue (http://www.kayhannews.ir/860710/8.htm#other801). In this article, while engaged in usual misrepresentations about Baha’is, Kayhan raised the issue of Baha’is sending money to the Baha’i institutions in Israel and presented this as evidence of Baha’is’ collaboration with the State of Israel, and as such accused the Baha’is of espionage and charged them to be agents of Israel.

If we were to accept this conclusion in the manner argued by Kayhan, then it seems logical to accuse the Shi’ah population of Iran as being collaborators of Saddam Hussein since during his entire regime, Iranians sent money to Najaf and Karbala for maintenance of the Shi’ah Shrines in Iraq.

But of course we all know that many Iranian Shi’ahs who contributed to the upkeep of their Sacred Shrines in Iraq had nothing to do with Saddam’s regime and the thought of spying for Saddam never crossed their mind.

In like manner, the Baha’is also have certain properties that they consider sacred in Israel. Therefore, it is to be expected that Baha’is of Iran, and indeed the Baha’is of the entire world, would send funds for repair and upkeep of these properties and in so doing they have nothing to do with Israel or her political policies (the same way that Shi’ahs had nothing to do with Saddam’s policies when they contributed to Najaf and Karbala).

Of course Kayhan is not concerned with facts or historical accuracy, as its purpose is to mislead and misinform and to provoke a negative opinion against Baha’is. But if Kayhan actually had been interested in truth, then it would have recognized that the reason that Baha’i World Centre and Baha’i properties are in Israel has nothing to do with Israel as it was established there decades before the State of Israel came into existence.

It was the combined will of two tyrannical Muslim rulers, Iran’s Nasiri’d-Din Shah and Ottoman’s Sultan Abu’l-Aziz, that resulted in Baha’u’llah being exiled to the fringes of the Ottoman Empire in the summer of 1868, to the desolate and inhospitable town of Acre (today known as Akka). By mid nineteenth century, Acre had sunk under the Ottomans to the level of a penal colony to which murderers, highway robbers and political agitators were consigned from all parts of the Empire. So putrid was its air that, according to a proverb, a bird when flying over it would drop dead. The Shah and Sultan had hoped that by sending Baha’u’llah there he would perish.

Baha’u’llah did indeed pass away 24 years later in Akka and it was there that he was buried, in accordance with the instruction of the Ottoman monarch. His family continued their exile and periodic imprisonments in that town, and Baha’u’llah’s successor, Abdu’l-Baha, spent his entire life there and it was to the nearby village of Haifa that he moved during the final years of his life and it was there that he too passed away in 1921.

A few years prior to his passing, Abdu’l-Baha had organized the transfer of the Bab’s remains to Haifa also and he was buried there in 1909. So all the holy figures of Baha’is are buried in Akka and Haifa, two towns that are within a few minutes of each other.

All of this took place long before Israel came into being in 1948, some 80 years after Baha’u’llah was exiled there. The Baha’i figures (Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha and their families) had absolutely no choice or voice in the decision regarding the location of their exile or burial. This was all dictated by Muslim monarchs.

Should it then surprise anyone that Baha’is would be concerned with the upkeep of burial places of the holy figures of their faith? Are the Shi’ahs not concerned with their holy places associated with the Holy Imams in Najaf and Karbala?

So what is the cause of all this uproar by Kayhan in its constant effort to defame Baha’is by accusing them of espionage for Israel merely when they have sent funds for maintenance of their holy sites? This is utterly bewildering!