Following the baseless accusations thrown by Tehran’s deputy prosecutor, in which he alleged that the 7 arrested Baha’i leaders forged links with Israel, Shirin Ebadi – the famed lawyer, human rights activist and Nobel Laureate – made a brave decision to defend them before court. Shirin Ebadi has long been a thorn at the side of the Iranian authority, actively speaking out for the rights of the marginalized in Iran.

And now, Iranian state media has stooped to a very low level, attempting to smear Ebadi’s efforts through claiming her daughter converted to the Baha’i faith almost a year ago. The implications of such an accusation are dire; conversion from Islam is a crime that is punishable by death.

We at the Muslim Network for Baha’i Rights applaud Ms. Ebadi’s courage and willingness to stand up for her fellow citizens. Fear and distrust of the Baha’i minority is entrenched in Iranian society – an aftermath of decades of villification. We hope that Ms. Ebadi’s efforts will signal a new beginning in Iran, and allow more and more Muslims to voice their sympathy and concern for their Baha’i brothers and sisters.