The Irish city of Cork and the Iranian city of Noshahr have a lot in common. Cork is a port city. So is Noshahr. Population wise Cork and Noshahr are about the same size. Both cities have universities, a thriving tourist trade, lots of small businesses and friendly people.
And the people of Noshahr are principled folk who in recent times have stood up for their Bahá’í residents, calling the authorities to account for the closure of Bahá’í-owned businesses in the town.
In a letter to the governor of Noshahr a group of local shopkeepers has pointed out that the Bahá’í’s shops were closed down by the authorities six months ago, that no investigation has been carried out in the meantime and that according to local regulations the shops should now be reopened.
Raising the issue recently at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva a Bahá’í representative said that the Iranian government has a systematic plan to close Bahá’í shops. “This plan aims at the slow suffocation of an entire community,” she said. The Bahá’í assertion is borne out by the many shop closures in a range of Iranian locations – in Noshahr, in Shaheen-Shahr, in Kerman and Rafsanjan.”
Recounting the innumerable ways in which the Bahá’ís of Iran are persecuted the human rights statement continued: “For nearly four decades, the Iranian government has tried to eliminate the Baha’i community as a viable entity. In the process, it has committed large-scale human rights violations. Today, arrests, arbitrary detention, long term imprisonments, unfair or mock trials, home raids, confiscation of belongings, harassment, physical and verbal abuse and pressure to recant their faith remain the day-to-day lot of thousands of Iranian Baha’is. Moreover, a campaign of incitement to hatred has led to a rise in the number of suspicious killings of Baha’is, in which the perpetrators have yet to face justice, let alone to be condemned.”
In the face of this widespread persecution of the Baha’i citizens in Iran, the action of these non-Baha’i business owners in Noshahr is a heartening show of support for the Bahá’ís.