Yesterday, Iran announced that it will be trying 7 leaders of the Baha’i community, 6 of whom were arrested in May last year, under charges of “espionage for Israel”.

7 Baha'i leaders

The arrested 7 are in fact members of “the Friends”, an informal society that oversaw the needs of the Baha’i community in Iran. The group is described as informal because in 1983, after executing all members of two consecutive National Spiritual Assemblies, the Iranian government placed a ban on all Baha’i institutions and activities.

Accusations that Baha’is collaborate with foreign powers are not new and in fact have been circulating since the early years of the Faith’s inception. The Baha’i Faith was said to have been a Russian creation in order to undermine Iran, and its leaders were accused of being British spies who were involved in elaborate plots to establish a puppet regime. Today, the accusations of the past have been forgotten in favour of a more convenient narrative: that Baha’is are agents of Zionism.

The strongest “evidence” given to support the claim that Baha’is are Israeli spies is the presence of the Universal House of Justice in Israel, ignoring the fact that it was occasioned by the expulsion of Baha’u'llah to Acre, which was then under Ottoman rule.

The fate that will befall the arrested 7 is unknown, but due to the serious nature of the charges brought against them, they face the threat of execution.

Last August, we released a short clip on the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, and concluded it with a message that,”If we do not speak up on behalf of the Baha’is and break the silence, the government will suffocate them, to their very last breath, and we will see horrors we do not wish to see. We cannot let this happen”

That message is even more urgent today.