Bahá'ís in Mount Vernon/Franconia Concerned about Fellow Believers in Iran
Fairfax County is home to Bahá’í immigrant refugees from Iran. Four of the nine members of the local elected council of the Bahá’ís of Mount Vernon/Franconia are of Iranian background, as are about a third of the community members. The other two-thirds are native born Americans and immigrants from other countries. The local Bahá'ís are devastated by the escalating persecution of their fellow believers in that country.
Two Bahá’ís from Iran in Franconia District, who have been here since the early 2000s, were denied access to higher education in Iran solely because of their religion. Iranian Bahá'ís developed the Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), a network of university courses taught online. Through BIHE, they were able to obtain initial higher education, then came to the United States to ensure further education and the right to earn a livelihood.
The husband of the niece of another local Bahá’í is currently in prison, far from his wife and children, because he engages in such Bahá’í activities as teaching children’s virtues lessons and arranging monthly Bahá’í gatherings for prayer and consultation. Her nephew and his wife were also imprisoned for three years and could be rearrested any time on false charges.
Like many American followers, I know Bahá’ís with relatives in prison or whose spouse or parent was executed as an elected member of a Bahá’í institution in Iran. The husband of a Bahá’í in Alexandria was one of them.
Though the Iranian government has signed international covenants on civil and human rights, it falsely claims that Bahá’ís are a threat to Iran (recent arrests involve ludicrous charges), treating Bahá'ís as unclean, expropriating property and destroying homes, firing Bahá'ís from jobs and shuttering businesses, barring students from education, imprisoning Bahá'ís in rolling arrests, and bulldozing cemeteries.
Please pray for persecuted Iranians and solace local Bahá’ís whose friends in Iran are oppressed. Contact Senator Warner to ask that he co-sponsor Senate Resolution 183 (S.Res.183); thank Senator Kaine for co-sponsoring that resolution; and thank Congressman Beyer for co-sponsoring House Resolution 744 (H.Res.744) “condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of its Bahá'í minority.” Join Amnesty International’s call for urgent action on this case. Our voices can stay the hand of the tyrant and relieve the distress of Bahá'ís in Mount Vernon.
Bill Collins, Public Information Representative, Bahá'ís of Mount Vernon