defense of iran’s baha’is from canadian parliament

I couldn’t help but share this with you all; it’s heartening to know that members of Parliament actually stand up and take notice of the plight of the Baha’is of Iran. From the Canadian Baha’i News Service (CBNS):

parliament all lined upCanadian Bahá’ís acknowledge MPs’ efforts to defend Bahá’ís in Iran

OTTAWA, ON, 11 October 2006 (CBNS) — As Parliament resumes this fall, Bahá’ís around Canada have expressed gratitude for the concern Members of Parliament have shown upon hearing reports of activities that suggest the Iranian government is preparing to intensify its persecution of Bahá’ís in Iran.

To date, approximately 120 Members of Parliament have met with representatives of local Bahá’í communities in Canada to discuss the mounting evidence that the government in Iran is intent on suppressing the rights of its country’s Bahá’í community.

By the time the first session of Parliament ended back in June, four Members had individually spoken out in defence of the Bahá’ís in Iran, including one Member who introduced a private motion that explicitly called on the international community to convince the Iranian government to cease its discrimination against the Bahá’ís.

“The Bahá’ís have been oppressed solely because of religious intolerance. The progressive stands of the Bahá’ís on women’s issues [and] education have particularly infuriated Muslim clerics,” said the Honourable Bryon Wilfert to the House of Commons in June.

“The pattern of actions by the Iranian authorities is threatening,” he continued. “It is essential that Canada play a role in promoting human rights for Bahá’ís around the world.”

The Honourable Keith Martin and Louise Thibeault were the other two Members who referred to the human rights violations being carried out against Bahá’ís in Iran. The Honourable Alexa McDonough introduced the private member’s motion urging Canada to take a lead role in convincing the Iranian government to stop discriminating against its country’s religious minorities.

Read the entire article.

a cold friday in ottawa

pardon me, i've got to flystaying home tonight, blogging and listening to some friends DJing internet radio. Thanksgiving weekend was wonderful; much thanks and praise was voiced, and much turkey was eaten. Our latest tutor movement session took place on Wednesday—the ‘spiritual preparation’ I mentioned in my last post. It’s been going really well; for my part, I’ve gotten a lot of support and encouragement from going. It’s been friendly, fun, reflective, with a good mix of guidance, discussion and practice. Practice dominates what we do—gaining experience seems to be the key goal, along with gaining confidence. The more you practice a simple act like studying a prayer with someone or elevating conversations with people around you, the more comfortable you become doing it.

Speaking of simple acts, you may be aware that since the turn of the (21st) century, the worldwide Baha’i community has been offering what it calls core activities of personal and community spiritual development—not only to its own members, but to all the world’s inhabitants. These include devotional gatherings (centered around prayers, readings, reflection), children’s classes (centered around the moral and spiritual education of children), study circles (centered around learning through individual and group reflection on divine writings), and junior youth groups (centered around increasing the capacities of youth aged 12-14). The Canadian Baha’i community recently released two videos that offer glimpses into the first two of these; check them out at the above link or download low-bandwidth versions here: (devotional meetingschildren’s classes). Right-click either one of these two links and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save Link As…”, and save them to your local computer. Watch both of these videos and you may see people you recognize from the Ottawa and Gatineau Baha’i communities!

interreligious marriages on the rise

While waiting for the bus on my way to work last Tuesday, a headline in one of the local free news dailies (that is, reuters/cp/torstar repeaters) caught my eye. “All they need is love”. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the following Canadian Press story about the rise of interreligious marriages. Hmm. That’s a pretty cheesy title. Maybe “Interreligious marriages on the rise” was too bland. Anyway, the story’s based on a study published by Statistics Canada. Check it out.

Interreligious marriages on the rise: study

TORONTO (CP) – Tina Verma wore a traditional red sari when her bridegroom placed a wedding band on her henna tattooed hand. It was the picture perfect Hindu wedding for a girl born in New Delhi – unless the guests took into account the man beside her.

The groom, a Canadian Christian, wore a black western suit. A few minutes after the Hindu ceremony, the two were married by a United Church minister. Then they walked down the aisle as guests threw flower petals on the newly married couple for good luck – a Hindu tradition.

As Canada becomes more culturally diverse, nuptials involving individuals from different denominations and faiths are also becoming more common, a new study finds.

While only 15 per cent of married or common-law couples were interreligious in 1981, by 2001 such unions had grown to 19 per cent, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

Of the 14.1 million Canadians in couples, nearly 2.7 million had a partner from a different religious group, the study based on census data finds.

Read the whole article.

Bonus Question: Would you marry someone who practices a religion other than your own? Why or why not?

dallaire “deeply concerned” by religious persecution, human rights violations in iran

From the Canadian Baha’i News Service (CBNS):

Canadian Bahá’ís welcome Senator Dallaire’s statement today about Iran’s treatment of Bahá’ís

TORONTO, ON, 26 September 2006 (CBNS) — Lieutenant-General and Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire said he is “alarmed” at the human rights violations being carried out by the Iranian government against Bahá’ís, in a statement released today and welcomed by Karen McKye, Secretary-General of the Bahá’í Community of Canada.

The statement by Lieutenant-General Dallaire follows on the secret letter, recently made public by Amnesty International, from the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Iran to other senior security forces calling for the monitoring of the members of the Bahá’í community of Iran, that country’s largest religious minority. The letter alarmed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, earlier this year.

“Canadian Bahá’ís have been profoundly concerned about the ongoing persecution of Bahá’ís in Iran and the alarming upsurge in short-term arrests, a defamatory press campaign in government media, and other signs that the level of persecution is intensifying in that country,” says McKye.

An excerpt from Lieutenant-General Dallaire’s statement follows:

Dallaire “deeply concerned” by religious persecution, human rights violations in Iran

Ottawa, September 26, 2006 — Senator Roméo Dallaire said today he is alarmed by the picture emerging from Iran that reveals systematic religious persecution and human rights violations against the 350,000 followers of the Baha’i faith, Iran’s largest religious minority.

While serving in the Canadian Forces, Dallaire commanded the failed 1994 UN mission in Rwanda where 800,000 men, women and children were murdered in 100 days during the worst genocide since the slaughter of Jews in World War II. Appalled at the world’s unwillingness to step in and stop the Rwandan genocide, Dallaire has since championed conflict resolution and international adherence to the rule of law.

Now, Dallaire says the Iranian Baha’i community is under concerted attack by the state and state-supported organizations.

“The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Asma Jahangir, has stated that Iran’s army, Ministry of Information, police and Revolutionary Guards are drawing up lists of all members of the Baha’i community and putting them under surveillance,” Dallaire said. “This inventorying and targeting of citizens, based on their religious beliefs or racial heritage, is the first ugly step toward systematic violence and crimes against humanity.” […]

Read the whole story.

Read related stories blogged at doberman pizza:

iranian situation of deep concern to bahá’ís at canadian convention

From the Canadian Baha’i News Service (CBNS), about the Canadian National Convention:

Iranian situation of deep concern to Bahá’ís at Canadian convention

TORONTO, ON, 27 April 2006 (CBNS) — Bahá’í delegates from across Canada will gather on Friday morning in Toronto for the 57th annual Bahá’í National Convention. The convention runs until Sunday, April 30th. Elected by their fellow believers across Canada, now numbering more than 30,000, the delegates will begin the convention with prayers for the safety of Iran’s Bahá’í community, that country’s largest religious minority.

Read the entire article.

women rock

Kelsey is Canadian by kk+ (cc)And among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings – one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be. (Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, sec. 227, p. 302)

Congratulations to the women among Canada’s Olympians for proving themselves on the global field at the Winter Olympics in Torino. Of 19 medals so far, Canada’s women have brought home 14 – with speed skater Cindy Klassen garnering a whopping 4 medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze). Way to go – we couldn’t be prouder! [update: as of Saturday night, 16 of 24 medals for women. way to go!]

photo by kk+ (creative commons)