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World Leaders Should Press Iran to Free Baha'i Religious Prisoners

New York, NY, May 20, 2008 Reacting to the ongoing imprisonment of seven national leaders of the Baha'i religious community in Iran, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on "world leaders to join together and insist that Iran release these religious prisoners."

The seven Baha'i leaders recently arrested are members of an informal Baha'i national coordinating group established to help meet the needs of Iran's Baha'i community.  Six were arrested on May 14 and a seventh has been detained since March.

ADL issued the following statement:

The arrests of leaders of the Baha'i faith demonstrate the seriousness of the loss of basic religious freedoms and human rights in Iran.  The U.S. government and leading human rights activists have likened the situation to the crackdowns on Baha'is immediately after the 1979 revolution in Iran, when 17 Baha'i leaders were arrested.  They have never been heard from again.

We call on world leaders to join together and insist that Iran release these religious prisoners.

While the Baha'i community is the largest non-Muslim minority in Iran with about 350,000 members, Iranian officials consider them to be heretics.  Since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power, members of the Baha'i community have been harassed, physically attacked, arrested and imprisoned.


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.



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2008 Anti-Defamation League