Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Distinguished Defender

The saga of the heroic, long suffering Baha'i community in Iran continues. The seven Baha'is who had provided leadership to for the Baha'i Faith in that country who were taken into custody by the government, will be defended in court by no less than Shirin Ebadi:

From the Muslim Network for Baha'i Rights

Following the baseless accusations thrown by Tehran’s deputy prosecutor, in which he alleged that the 7 arrested Baha'i leaders forged links with Israel, Shirin Ebadi - the famed lawyer, human rights activist and Nobel Laureate - made a brave decision to defend them before court.

Meanwhile, it utter contrast to the policy of the land of its birth, the Baha'i Faith in Vietnam has received official recognition by the government:

The government of Vietnam has given full recognition to the Baha’i community as a religious organization.

A certificate was presented to representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Vietnam at a ceremony on 25 July.

It was the final act in a series of steps that included the election four months ago of the Baha’i Assembly – itself a landmark event in that it was the first time in many years that elections for the governing council were held. Government representatives were on hand to observe the balloting.

The head of the central government’s Committee for Religious Affairs, Nguyen The Doanh, officiated at last week’s ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City.

The official government news agency reported the event and referred to comments by the chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is, Mr. Nguyen Thuc Trong: “(He) said the Government's recognition of the Baha'i religion ‘charts a new course of development for the entire Baha'i community’ and motivates followers to make more contributions to social and humanitarian activities and to drive to preserve traditional spiritual values.”

The Baha’i Faith was established in the country in 1954, and the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Vietnam was elected 10 years later. In the mid-1970s, formal activities of the community were suspended.

The Vietnam News Agency said last week’s ceremony means that “the Government's Committee for Religious Affairs has recognized the Baha'i Community of Vietnam as a religious organization able to operate on an equal footing with other religions.”

Baha’is of Vietnam are now working on consolidating their community, gathering accurate statistics, and expanding social projects to serve the people of Vietnam, particularly in the area of education.

The day is coming when the world will hear similar news about the Baha'i Faith in Iran. Have no doubt about that.