Fred Petrossian–80,000 people in Germany’s capital have been marching in solidarity with protesters in Iran. On 22nd October, demonstrators came to Berlin from all over Europe. A statement was read at the end of this historic gathering which talked about periods of repression and state violence from the beginning of the Islamic Republic to the present. The statement also mentioned the repression and discrimination of ethnic and sexual minorities. However, incredibly, no mention was made in the statement about the persecution and suffering of religious minorities during the last 43 years.
For more than four decades, the “Islamic Republic” has deprived millions of people of their basic rights as citizens. These people belong to minorities “unrecognized” in Iran’s law, such as Bahais, converted Christians, Madanians and followers of the Yarsan religion.
In other words, these people do not exist for the Iranian State, which has turned them into “ghosts” under Iran’s religious apartheid system.
Unfortunately, the Islamic Republic has succeeded in its dehumanization of millions of Iranian citizens to such an extent that, even in the Berlin’s statement, which was written for equality, justice and freedom, not a single word addressed these people and the decades of their repression.
In addition to these “undesirable minorities” in the eyes of Iran’s Islamists, there are so-called “recognized minorities” in the Constitution: Jews, Zoroastrians and Christians (Armenians and Assyrians). All of these citizens have also been deprived of many ordinary citizens’ rights, from employment to testifying in court or sharing in inheritance.
Dervishes, who are Shiites of twelve imams, and Sunnis, have also been discriminated against and oppressed because of their religious beliefs.
Many people from these oppressed religious communities have refused to surrender to the government and have gone to prison to preserve their identity. Many have even lost their lives and property. The murder and execution of two hundred Baha’is since the beginning of the revolution, including Mona Mahmoudnejad, a 17-year-old student, the beheading of the Anglican priest Arastoo Sayyah in the first days of the revolution, and the continued suppression of Dervishes and followers of the Yarsan faith, are only a few examples of this physical and structural violence.
Despite four decades of repression and discrimination, these minorities have resisted and have not submitted to the will of the Iranian Islamic rulers.
With the beginning of the protests, we see many people who belong to the religious minorities, like other Iranian citizens, protesting and struggling for freedom and justice.
The Consultative Assembly of Civil Activists of the Yarsan Community supported the protests by publishing a statement, and Iranian Christians, at least seven of whose leaders were killed by the Iranian State, have been active in the protests in different countries.
It seems that the discrimination against religious minorities persists in the middle of a historic demonstration for freedom and justice.