Members of the Baha'i faith throughout the world are heartened by the news that the United Nations Human Rights Council has voted in favor of investigation into human rights issues and religious persecution in Iran.
Ahmed Shaheed, a UN investigator, specifically mentioned religious minorities such as Baha'is and Christians who have been detained in the predominantly Muslim country. Baha'is, specifically, are subject to increased arrests and "an ongoing anti-Baha'i media campaign," he said, according to Bahai.org, a website that covers issues related to the faith and its adherents throughout the world.
Shaheed added "that 110 Baha'is are currently detained in Iran for exercising their faith; that at least 13 Protestant Christians are currently in detention centres across Iran; and that Dervishes, members of the Yarasen faith, and Sunni Muslims continue to be the subject of punitive activities, raising serious concern about the situation of religious minorities in the country," according to the Bahai.org report.
Iran has refused to allow UN investigators into the country to observe how widespread the persecution is.
"Iran needs to start cooperating with the Council by allowing Mr. Shaheed to visit the country so that he can carry out his work," said Diane Ala'i, the Baha'i International Community's representative to the United Nations in Geneva. "The fact that Mr. Shaheed has never been invited to visit Iran is merely more evidence of the Iranian government's disregard for international human rights mechanisms."
The Baha'i faith, considered the youngest of the world's monotheistic religions, was founded in Iran in 1844. It is estimated to have more than five million followers in more than 230 countries. In the U.S., where the faith was introduced in the 1890s, there are an estimated 160,000 Baha'is.