Thursday, February 07, 2008


EU: Bloc slams worsening plight of Iran's minorities

Brussels, 7 Feb. (AKI) - The European Union presidency on Thursday decried the worsening situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, especially members of the minority Bahai faith.

"The EU expresses its serious concern at the worsening situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, in particular, the plight of the Bahai," the EU presidency said in a statement.

According to "reliable reports," the Iranian judiciary has confirmed that 54 Bahais were handed jail terms by a court in the city of Shiraz in southwestern Iran for "propaganda against the regime," the EU presidency said.

Three of the convicted Bahais were sentenced to four years in prison, while 51 were given one year suspended prison terms, the EU presidency noted.

"The EU is concerned about the ongoing systematic discrimination and harassment of Bahais in Iran," it said. This includes the expulsion of university and high school students, restrictions on employment and anti-Bahai propaganda campaigns in the Iranian media, the EU presidency said.

"The EU urges the Islamic Republic of Iran to release the Bahai prisoners and stop prosecuting members of the Bahai minority due to their belief and practice of the Bahai faith," the statement concluded.

The Bahai faith was founded in 19th-century Iran. It emphasises the spiritual unity of all humankind and accepts the most of the world's religions.

There are an estimated 350,000 Bahais living in Iran out of some six million Bahais worldwide.

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