mardi 8 juillet 2008

Evening prayers at a Baha’i holy place in London

Shoghi Effendi's monument

Heavy evening traffic slows our progress towards New Southgate and the grave of Shoghi Effendi. By 8.20 p.m., when the three of us in the Secretary’s car arrive outside the green custodian’s hut, the other six have already gathered in the enclosure around the familiar eagle-topped marble column.

This is the time for prayers in this special place that the National Spiritual Assembly (the national governing council of the UK Bahá’í community) had long promised itself.

There’s a certain attitude, a certain posture, that Bahá’ís adopt as they pass between the overhanging pines and wrought iron gates that open into the outer, brick-walled court of this holy place. They pace slowly with slightly lowered head and hands clasped in front of them along the red gravel path until they reach the two steps that lead through the opening in the stone balustrade surrounding the monument itself.

And then they raise their eyes to the gilded eagle with partly opened wings that perches on the stone globe at the top of the column.

Shoghi Effendi

That eagle symbolizes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith from 1921, when he was in his 20s and a student at Balliol College, Oxford, until he died prematurely at the age of 60 during a trip to London. A man who wrote books setting out his vision of a future world civilization built on unity and justice, a man who laid out gardens and oversaw the building of great edifices, a man who wrote letters of encouragement to the small but growing Bahá’í community around the world, a man who guided the Bahá’ís through the early stages of building the administrative institutions ordained by Bahá’u'lláh and by Shoghi Effendi’s grandfather, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi was a man of extraordinary achievements. Sadly those achievements are as yet little known to the world outside the Bahá’í community.

A posture of reverence

The posture of reverence that Bahá’ís adopt when they approach this place of prayer is not required, it is not a ritual, it is not set down in any text. It is a response of the spirit to the power of the place and the knowledge of the extraordinary responsibility laid on Shoghi Effendi by his Grandfather’s Will and Testament while Shoghi Effendi was still a child and which remained unknown until the Will was read after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s death in 1921.

So there we nine stand on the white gravel of the inner court, as the twilight deepens, facing the column. A breeze rattles the leaves of the tall trees that grow nearby. There’s a hint of rain in the air.

Prayer list

The Secretary clears his throat and begins to read out our list of the sick, the departed, those who have achieved something special, those who are suffering, the Bahá’ís in Iran, those who have particularly asked for the National Assembly’s prayers. As he reads, the distant sound of the trains rushing through New Southgate station on the Great Northern line floats up the hill, but does not penetrate the prayerful peace surrounding us.

The Secretary comes to the end of the list and falls silent. One of the other members clears her throat and recites a prayer. One by one, along the line, each in turn reads a favourite prayer or a prayer that seems particularly appropriate as we remember the triumphs and the suffering, the victories and the crises, as we express our love for our friends, for the Bahá’ís, for suffering humanity.

Transcendence

These prayers connect us to God. And they connect us to Shoghi Effendi, whose forebears, the Báb, Bahá’u'lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, revealed them in matchless language to give expression to the deepest yearnings of our hearts.

I love to pray outside. When I pray outside I feel a connection not only to God but also to the natural world, which in itself is one of the books of God. But praying as night falls in this particular spot, so holy for Bahá’ís across the world, opens a unique door to transcendence.

The last prayer read, we remain silent for a time. Someone shifts his feet on the gravel. Someone coughs. And then we begin to move, to tear ourselves from this place that so strongly links us to the divine world. We reverse down the steps from the inner court, along the red gravel and back to the wrought iron gates. This walking backwards marks the kind of respect subjects give to a king, in our case a servant king who always signed his letters to the Bahá’ís “Your true brother”, or “Your co-worker”.

But more than that, we can scarcely bear to leave this place and to return to our responsibilities in the quotidian world.

vendredi 27 juin 2008



Joe Foster award for religious education

Posted: 26 Jun 2008 04:37 PM CDT

L to R: Farid Afnan, Dorothy Foster, Hassan Afnan, Kishan Manocha

Left to Right: Farid Afnan, Dorothy Foster, Hassan Afnan, Kishan Manocha

The late Joe Foster was a wonderful and active Bahá’í who was a natural teacher. Joe taught mechanical engineering at a college in the north of England, but found himself becoming involved in promoting the inclusion of the Bahá’í Faith in religious education syllabuses and documents.

The Bahá’í Religious Education Agency (BREA, the UK Bahá’í community’s specialist religious education advisory body) decided that it would be a worthy memorial for Joe, who passed away a few years ago, to institute an award in his name for services to Bahá’í involvement in religious education.

Last night (25 June) Dr Kishan Manocha, Secretary of the UK Bahá’í community’s national governing council, presented the Joe Foster lifetime service award to Hassan Afnan, who was a leading member of the Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE) in the London Borough of Brent for many years and who persuaded Edexcel, one of the UK’s major examination providers, to provide a GCSE exam paper on the Bahá’í Faith.

During the evening Dorothy Foster, Joe’s widow, spoke about Joe and their life together, about how they met the Baha’i Faith and became Baha’is in the late 1960s and about Joe’s enthusiasm for religious education. This was a touching tale.

Friends gathered at 27 Rutland Gate for the Joe Foster Award ceremony. Kishan Manocha is welcoming everyone on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly.

Dr Kishan Manocha addresses the Joe Foster Award ceremony

Sheila Williams, the first recipient of the Joe Foster Award was also present at the ceremony.


Barnabas quotidianus

mercredi 4 juin 2008

Press Conference



Conference de presse

organiser par

LE CONSEIL BAHAIS DE LILE MAURICE

le 3 juin au St George Hotel Port Louis


L'essensiel de la conference

Mme Sylvana Dholah ouvrant la conference de presse avec les preoccupation de la Commmunaute Mondiale Bahais du recent arrestation par les autorités iraniennes sans aucune explication, six des sept membres responsables, sur une base ad hoc, de la communauté bahá’íe en Iran.

Ce nouveau coup porté à une communauté non-violente et respectueuse des lois iraniennes démontre la volonté implacable du gouvernement iranien de venir à bout de la plus grande minorité religieuse d’Iran avec 300 000 membres.

ces arrestations continu Mme Homa Mungapen sont pour nous extrêmement préoccupantes. En 1980, les autorités iraniennes s’étaient déjà attaquées à l’instance dirigeante élue de la communauté iranienne, et l’ensemble des neuf membres avait disparu sans laisser de trace. Huit des neuf membres de l’institution reformée l’année suivante avaient été exécutés le 27 décembre 1981 ».

Le climat actuel en Iran semble augurer une fois de plus de prochaines atteintes graves aux droits de l’homme. Cette situation alarme vivement les associations et organes de défense des droits de l’homme, s’agissant en particulier du sort de la communauté bahá’íe d’Iran, persécutée depuis maintenant 28 ans par le régime révolutionnaire.

comme des milliers d’autres qui depuis 1979 ont été tués, emprisonnés et opprimés, sont persécutés au seul motif de leurs convictions religieuses. La meilleure preuve de ce fait est que, régulièrement, les bahá’ís se sont vus proposer la liberté s’ils renonçaient à leur croyance et se convertissaient à l’Islam, une option que peu d’entre eux ont choisi.

“ Loin d’être une menace à la sécurité d’Etat, la communauté bahá’íe d’Iran aime son pays et est profondément impliquée dans son développement. La meilleure preuve en est que la vaste majorité des iraniens bahá’ís sont restés en Iran malgré l’intensité des persécutions, le fait que les étudiants, privés d’accès à l’éducation en Iran et contraints d’étudier à l’étranger, sont retournés au pays pour participer à son développement, ainsi que les efforts récents des bahá’ís de Shiraz pour éduquer des enfants défavorisés, efforts sanctionnés par l’arrestation de 54 bahá’ís en mai 2006 ”,

en reponse a une question dun journaliste de la MBC monsieur Laval zephyr a repondu
Le Centre mondial bahá’í se trouve en Israël car Bahá’ú’lláh fut envoyé en Terre Sainte, qui était à l’époque la Palestine, au milieu des années 1800 en tant que prisonnier par deux pays musulmans, la Turquie ottomane et l’Iran.

Ces accusations, courantes depuis les 30 dernières années, ne sont rien de plus qu’un effort du gouvernement pour encourager l’animosité à l’encontre des bahá’ís dans la population iranienne. Il ne s’agit que d’un élément supplémentaire d’une longue histoire de tentatives d’incitation à la haine contre les bahá’ís en les taxant d’être des agents au service de puissances étrangères, tels que la Russie, le Royaume-Uni, les Etats-Unis et maintenant Israël.

Tant a Mr Balram appadoo
Les bahá’ís, qui sont à la fois non-partisans et non-violents, font face à un gouvernement qui, pour des raisons idéologiques, a entrepris de bloquer le développement de la communauté bahá’íe non seulement par des arrestations, du harcèlement et de l’emprisonnement, mais également en privant la jeunesse d’éducation et les adultes de moyens de subsistance.

Il serait intéressant de savoir quels motifs de sécurité d’Etat étaient en jeu lors des incidents récents telles que la destruction d’un cimetière bahá’í et l’utilisation d’un bulldozer pour écraser les os d’un bahá’í enterré là ; le harcèlement de centaines d’enfants bahá’ís dans les écoles par les enseignants et les responsables afin de leur faire renier leur foi ou encore la publication de dizaines d’articles diffamatoires anti-bahá’ís dans Kayhan et d’autres médias soutenus par le gouvernement dans les récents mois. ”

note également que de nombreux responsables gouvernementaux et religieux, ainsi que des membres de l’institution judiciaire ont relevé, en privé, la conduite non-partisane de la communauté bahá’íe et le caractère injustifié des accusations contre les bahá’ís. L’idéologie actuelle du gouvernement est largement fondée sur la croyance qu’il ne peut exister de Prophète après Mahomet. La foi bahá’íe pose à ce sujet un défi théologique.

“ La liberté religieuse est en cause et la République islamique d’Iran est signataire de conventions internationales reconnaissant cette liberté aux individus, incluant le droit de changer de religion.

Ce que le gouvernement iranien ne peut pas tolérer est que le peuple iranien soit moins influencé par la propagande gouvernementale, car il constate la réalité qui est que les iraniens bahá’ís aiment leur pays, sont sincères dans leur désir de contribuer à son développement ; paisibles et respectueux des lois, des qualités résultant de leur croyance. Les soutiens prenant la défense des bahá’ís, tant en privé qu’en public, à tous les niveaux de la société sont de plus en plus nombreux, l’intérêt et l’attractivité de la communauté bahá’íe augmentant au sein de la population ”


Papijoon / Independent blog writer

Prominent Iranian Professors Demand Release of Baha'i Prisoners


Baha'i leaders detained in Iran since 14 May 2008


Canadian Baha'i News Service reported yesterday an important development in the matter of the detained Baha'i leaders in Iran.

Prominent Iranian academics from leading universities in Canada have expressed their outrage at the deteriorating human rights conditions in Iran, issuing specific demands to the UN Secretary-General, the Honourable Ban Ki-moon, for the release of the Baha'i leaders. These professors are not members of the Baha'i Faith.

The article reports the following:

Toronto, Ontario, 3 June 2008 (CBNS) — Five Toronto-based Iranian leaders of thought have asked the UN Secretary General to press the Iranian authorities to release the Baha'is arrested three weeks ago. Though not themselves members of the Baha'i community, in a strongly worded letter (below), they have expressed their concern at the arrests along with other human rights violations in Iran.

The five are Professors Amir Hassanpour, a prominent Iranian Kurdish scholar and researcher teaching at the University of Toronto; Haideh Moghissi, founder of the Iranian National Union of Women before leaving Iran in 1984, prominent sociologist at York University and author of the three volumes “Women and Islam”, “Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism” and “Populism and Feminism in Iran”, published by Routledge, Oxford University Press and Macmillan Press; Shahrzad Mojab, author and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto; Saeed Rahnema, frequent commentator in the media, professor of political science at York University and former director of the York School of Public Policy and Administration; and Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, author of “Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentialism and Nationalist Historiography”, among other books and articles, and Professor of History and Middle East Studies at the University of Toronto.

Their letter reads as follows:

Monday, June 02, 2008

To the Honourable Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations

Your Excellency:

As Iranian-Canadian academics we are writing to express our concern at the arrest two weeks ago of leaders of the Iranian Baha’i community. While we are not, ourselves, members of that particular faith community, as Iranians we feel it unacceptable that the regime in Iran has neither communicated the whereabouts of those arrested nor disclosed the formal charges under which they are being held.

This latest affront to universally accepted human rights joins a growing list of violations the Iranian government has committed against a wide range of those who wish merely to have the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of Iran: journalists, student leaders, those working to advance the rights of women, labour leaders, and other members of what should be a vibrant Iranian civil society.

In this latest incident, we understand that on Wednesday 14 May 2008 officers of the Iranian Ministry of the Interior raided the homes of six of the seven members of the group that coordinates the affairs of the Baha'i community. This group has functioned with the knowledge of the Iranian government since the outlawing of the formal Baha’i administration in 1983. The seventh member had been arrested in early March.

We feel that the international community, especially through the offices of the United Nations should do all it can to press Iranian Government authorities to establish human rights protections for the security and the freedom of all the Iranian people.

We ask that your Office take immediate action to demand the release of the Baha’i leaders, and that steps be taken, perhaps with the assistance of appropriate United Nations agencies provided to the Iranian authorities, to safeguard the human rights of other groups currently under attack in Iran in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Iran is a signatory.

Yours sincerely,

Professors Amir Hassanpour, University of Toronto
Professor Haideh Moghissi , York University
Professor Shahrzad Mojab, University of Toronto
Professor Saeed Rahnema, York University
Professor Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, University of Toronto

Copies:
-The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada
-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran c/o Embassy of the Islamic Rep. of Iran
-Iran’s Representative to the UN, Ambassador H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee
-Geneva Permanent Mission, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Amb. H.E. Mr. Ali Reza Moaiveri
-Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mme Louise Arbour
-United Nations Human Rights Council

mardi 3 juin 2008

press conference

Press Conference FOR THE PERSECUTION IN IRAN
3RD JULY LE ST GEORGE HOTEL PORT LOUIS



dimanche 25 mai 2008





National Bahais Convention 24-25 may 2008

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mercredi 16 avril 2008

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MEETING THE HON, Minister of Education

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