30 September 2007

iguanajournal interviews Ahmadi-Nejad

“The Government of Iran considers Baha’is to be apostates (apostasy, specifically conversion from Islam, is punishable by death) and defines the Baha’i faith as a political ‘sect.’ The Ministry of Justice states that Baha’is are permitted to enrol in schools only if they do not identify themselves as Baha’is…”*

Regarding Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the country’s president, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times called him a ‘fruitbat’ and a ‘doofus’. I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side! Name-calling aside, there are certain things we all need to know about him and his government’s policies.

Being the media mogul that it is, iguanajournal obtained an exclusive interview with Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the president of Iran. He blocked out an hour in his busy agenda for this interview on the Latin American leg of his tour to meet with Morales and Chavez. However, as you shall see in the following transcript, the interview didn’t last that long. Here is the transcript:

Iguanajournal – It is our pleasure to converse with you and in this way help bridge cultural, political and religious gaps between Westerners and Iranians.

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad – (silent)

Iguanajournal – Ok, so we would like to get into some thorny issues that are on our reader’s minds. Foremost among them are the accusations coming from some quarters about a “widespread and calculated effort by the government to maintain and gradually intensify the persecution of Iranian Baha’is,” a growing community of between 300,000 and 350,000 members. There are several specific issues related to this, and one of the main concerns regards “incidents of abuse and discrimination directed at Baha’i students and children.” Is it true Mr. President, that these innocent children and youth are denied proper education because of their religious beliefs?

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad – (silent)

Iguanajournal – I see, um, we have obtained an official government document, a “2 November 2006 letter from the headquarters of Payame Noor University to its regional branches, [which] states that it is government policy that Baha’i students ‘cannot enroll’ in Iranian universities and that if they are already enrolled, ‘they should be expelled.’” This seems to contradict the fact that “Iran claims that it has finally opened the doors to Baha’i students, after some 25 years of keeping them out of public and private universities in Iran,” Would you care to explain this?

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad – (silent)

Iguanajournal – Sir, this is an interview. We would appreciate hearing your perspective on these important matters. (Waits 45 seconds). Ok, it also seems that the government has ordered a series of arrests and releases on specific groups of Baha’is around the country, demanded large bonds for their release, and ransacked their homes while in prison. Some of these people arrested in Tehran and Sanandaj are still in jail. We are sure you are aware that violating human rights in this way is against international law and is a disgrace to your noble Persian heritage. Could you help us understand this behavior?

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad – (silent)

Iguanajournal – Well, um, maybe one final question. We have obtained these photographs, let’s see, here they are.

Destroying Baha'i cemeteries is quite … provocative. This is a grave human rights violation, and to be honest with you Mr. President, quite cowardly. We know that in recent months, the Iranian authorities have been “carrying out a widespread crackdown on civil society, targeting academics, women's rights activists, students, and journalists.” Although not alone, the Baha’i community is symbolic of your attitude towards fundamental issues of dignity, freedom and honor. Obviously the Baha’is, as well as other groups, represent some sort of threat to your government, but we can’t figure out what that could be as they have consistently obeyed instructions over the years by their supreme body in words similar to the following: “With an illumined conscience, with a world-embracing vision, with no partisan political agenda, and with due regard for law and order, strive for the regeneration of your country. By your deeds and services, attract the hearts of those around you, even win the esteem of your avowed enemies.”

The international community gazes sternly upon your regime, and although the nuclear development issue has dominated headlines, what goes on behind the scenes is even more newsworthy.

If you haven’t anything to say for yourself, then this interview need continue no further.


I’d like to finish this blog extending my most heartfelt love for the Baha’is of Iran, express my awe at their spiritual strength and loyalty, and offer my best wishes that their situation improves soon.



NYT quotes from: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/26/opinion/26dowd.html?hp

All other quotes taken from: http://news.bahai.org/

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