Freedom of Religion – Distortion & Disinformation
No Baha’i in Iran is prosecuted because he is a Baha’i, and there are about 200 students, Baha’i students at universities. There are plenty of big firms and companies owned by Baha’is in Iran. The sensitive area is the cult type of activity. Cult means that a group that people can enter in that but they cannot get out by their will. It is against the law, even cults based on Shiite thinking are forbidden by law and they are pursued. So, Baha’is who are pursued in Tehran through legal structure are those who are involved in cult type of activity. Cult type of activity is against all the basic human rights of the people.118
– Mohammad-Javad Larijani during Iran’s UPR, 15 February 2010
Authorities have detained hundreds of members Shia sufi order, Nematollahi Gonabadi over the past few years, sentencing many to imprisonment, fines, and floggings including Gholam-Abbas Zare-Haqiqi,who authorities sentenced to four years in prison in October 2009, for allowing a burial at Sufi cemeteries, a banned practice. Since 2006 several of the order’s prayer centers have been demolished or attacked including the demolition of a center in Isfahan in February 2009 and a June 2010 attack on a center by Ministry of Intelligence agents.
Authorities are increasingly detaining and prosecution evangelical and protestant Christians. Authorities arrested around 60 Christians in the Tehran Province in late December 2010.119 On 22 September 2010, the 11th Circuit Criminal Court of Appeals for the Gilan Province upheld the death sentence and conviction of Youcef Nadarkhani for apostasy, a crime with no basis in Iranian law. Another pastor, Behrouz Sadeq Khanjani of Shiraz, still faces an apostasy charge.
Authorities continue broad discrimination against members of the Baha’i Faith, including detaining hundreds of them in 2009 and 2010. In August 2010, authorities sentenced seven Baha’i leaders to ten years in prison each, on baseless espionage charges. Baha’i cemeteries are regularly attacked and demolished including demolitions in Mashad in June 2010 and Damavand in April 2010. Baha’i students are also consistently barred from university admission or expelled (more on education: see Section 8).