Followers of the Baha'i faith say the Islamic Republic has either arrested, summoned to court, put on trial or closed businesses of at least 20 Baha'i citizens just since the beginning of July.
The Worldwide Baha’i Community said in a statement published on July 20 that Tehran has intensified its systematic campaign to suppress the religious minority in recent weeks. The persecuted Baha’is in July were citizens of Shiraz, Tehran, Yazd and Bojnurd, it said.
According to the community, at least 44 Baha'is were detained, summoned to court, put on trial or given prison sentences, or had their homes searched 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 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, 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 and they are often harassed, forced to leave their homes and businesses, and are deprived of government jobs and university education.