During the twentieth century the struggle for social change gathered momentum across the world. There are several notable movements that followed a non-violent path and changed the course of history through various means. However, there were few minorities who followed a non-adversarial approach and were able to resist peacefully in the face of over 170 years of oppression and injustice.
The Baha’is in Iran have suffered from persecution and hostility since the inception of the religion. Despite the majority of Iranians showing no animosity towards Baha’is (Karlberg, 2010: 223), they have been on the receiving end of a full range of human rights abuse such as execution, torture, ...view middle of the document...
A divine interpreter of the Quran, he was considered by his followers as the “personification of the Hidden Imam, a Messiah-like figure whose return has been awaited by Shi’a Muslims since the ninth century.” He signalled the coming of another prophet whose teachings “would establish unity, peace and order on earth” (Momen, 1981 xxi-xxii). The Bab’s growing number of followers can be considered the foremost revolutionaries of the time in Persia as they actively pursued their cause, despite the forceful repression of the ruling religious and political elite who opposed the new faith on the grounds of religion and as a being a threat to the security of the state (IHRDC, 2006 : 3).
Following the Bab’s public execution at the age of 30 in front of a government firing squad numbering some 750 rifle, a “campaign of extermination” began that culminated in the martyrdom of over 20,000 Babi’s. Countless more tortured, imprisoned and became victims of mob violence and property destruction. The written accounts of the atrocities the Bab’is were subjected to describe a horrific bloodbath of “brutal and inhumane” methods of fatal torture and punishment.
Ten years after the martyrdom of the Bab, one of His followers Mirza Husayn Ali claimed to be “Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest” (IHRDC, 2006 : 4). Born in 1817 in Tehran into a noble family, Baha’u’llah, a title meaning “Glory of God”, renounced his wealthy background and instead chose a life of service to the Faith. He spent most of his life in prison and exile and suffered terribly for despite His teachings of oneness of religion, truth and unity that now has followers in every corner of the globe (Perkins, 1991: 6).
One of the fundamental differences between the Babi and and Baha’i Faith was “the renouncement of violence, even in the face of persecution” (IHRDC, 2006: 4). Despite this persecution has continued since the 19th century into present day Iran, despite the Baha’i community being the countries largest religious minority with over 350,000 followers.
During the Pahlavi era prior to the...