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RELIGION | Religion in Brief

U.N. Official Protests Execution of Bahai

July 25, 1998

UNITED NATIONS — Mary Robinson, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, on Friday protested Iran's execution of a member of the Bahai faith and urged Tehran not to execute three other Bahais who are sentenced to death.

She said she was "gravely concerned about the reported conditions that led to the execution, particularly the seeming absence of due process," according to a statement released in New York and Geneva.

U.S. officials had issued similar protests Thursday.

Ruhollal Rawani, a 52-year-old father of four, was hanged Tuesday on charges of converting a Muslim woman to the Bahai religion. He was the first member of the faith to be executed in Iran since 1992.

Robinson said that she was concerned about reports that three other Bahais--Ata'ullah Hamid Nasirizadih, Sirus Dhabih-Mugaddam and Hidayat Kashifi--had secretly been sentenced to death.

She said a number of other Bahais were in jail or awaiting trial under similar circumstances.

The Bahai faith originated in Iran 150 years ago. It is an offshoot of Islam but is considered heresy by Islamic fundamentalists, who have severely persecuted Bahais. In Iran, the faith is officially considered "a misleading and wayward sect."

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