Followers of the Baha'i faith say the Islamic Republic has taken its systematic campaign to suppress the religious minority to a higher level in recent weeks.
The Worldwide Baha’i Community announced in a recent statement that at least 44 Baha'is were summoned to court, detained, put on trial or given prison sentences in June.
Earlier in June, Radio Farda reported that 26 followers of the Baha'i faith, all of whom residing in the city of Shiraz in the southwestern province of Fars, were sentenced to 2-5 year in prison on charges of "conspiracy to disrupt internal and external security." The verdicts were issued on June 8 by a branch of the city’s Revolutionary Court.
The 1979 constitution of the Islamic Republic recognizes only Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. Baha'ism − established as a new religion in Iran in 1863 by Baha'ullah, who claimed to be a prophet following Jesus and Muhammad − has always been deemed heretical by the Shia establishment and subject to intermittent bouts of political persecution.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has on several occasions called the Baha'i faith a cult and in a religious fatwa in 2018 forbade contact, including business dealings, with followers of the faith.
Baha'is, who number around 300,000 in Iran, say their rights are systematically violated, that they are often harassed, forced to leave their homes and businesses, and are deprived of government job and university education. There are Baha’i communities in many countries worldwide but there is no reliable figure about the total number of followers.