An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

The following op-ed by Michael Karlberg appeared on OnFaith on April 23, 2014.

On April 7, through a courageous and compassionate gesture, Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani stood as a champion for the dignity and rights of Iran’s most oppressed religious minority – the Baha’is. On that day, Ayatollah Tehrani announced on his website that he had created a work of illuminated calligraphy based on a passage from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i Faith. He then offered his exquisitely rendered work of art to the Baha’i community as a token of respect and support.

Baha’is constitute the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran. They have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed in recurrent waves of persecution for over 160 years. They have no human rights under the country’s constitution, and crimes can be committed against them with impunity. Many are currently in prison for no reason other than their beliefs. Moreover, the government of Iran has formalized a policy to ensure that their “progress and development shall be blocked.”

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