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Iran arrests members of Baha’i faith on charges of spying for Israel

A view of the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)
A view of the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

Iran’s intelligence ministry arrests several members of the Baha’i faith on spying charges, state TV reports.

The ministry says in a statement that the suspects were linked to the Baha’i center in Israel and collected and transferred information there.

It is rare for the ministry to report the arrests of members of Baha’i. The report does not say how many were detained. The detentions raise concerns about potential crackdowns on followers of the religion.

Members of the faith in Iran complain about occasional mistreatment and prosecutions in Iran.

Iran already bans the Baha’i, a religion founded in the 1860s by a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by his followers. Muslims consider Muhammad the highest prophet.

In 2013, Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, in a fatwa, or religious decree, urged Iranians to avoid all dealings with members of the banned Baha’i sect. It supported similar fatwas in the past by other clerics. Iran allows non-Muslims such as Christians and Jews to worship but has strict laws against seeking converts to other religions.

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