Iran arrests 9 members of Baha’i faith on smuggling charges

Group is shunned in Islamic Republic, which persecutes its members; officials say suspects were smuggling medicine, laundering money

Illustrative: Iranian police in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Illustrative: Iranian police in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested nine members of the Baha’i faith on charges of smuggling medicine and financial wrongdoing, state media reported on Monday.

State IRAN newspaper said the arrested people, mostly members of one family, had roles in smuggling medicine though a network of dozens of pharmacies. It said they bribed medics to send clients to the pharmacies and were involved in money laundering and tax evasion.

Iran bans the Baha’i religion, which was founded in the 1860s by a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by his followers, and from time to time has arrested and prosecuted members of the faith on spying and security charges.

Muslims consider the Prophet Muhammad the highest and last prophet.

In 2013, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, urged Iranians to avoid all dealings with the Baha’i. Khamenei’s fatwa, or religious order, supported similar fatwas in the past by other clerics.

In 2022, authorities arrested several members of the faith on spying charges.

The Baha’i say they’ve been persecuted by Shiite clerics in Iran since their religion’s founding, with the oppression growing more intense since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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