Iran targets Baha’i children for conversion to Islam

Iran targets Baha’i children for conversion to Islam
Iranian officials have reportedly ordered teachers to identify children belonging to the Baha’i minority in order to convert them to Islam. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 March 2021

Iran targets Baha’i children for conversion to Islam

Iran targets Baha’i children for conversion to Islam
  • Leaked documents from the northern city of Sari show authorities plan to step up “strict controls” of Baha’is
  • Move is latest step to suppress religious minority, one of the most persecuted in the world

LONDON: Iranian officials have reportedly ordered teachers to identify children belonging to the Baha’i minority in order to convert them to Islam.
Leaked documents from the northern city of Sari, in Mazandaran province, show authorities plan to step up “strict controls” of Baha’is, already one of the world’s most persecuted religious minorities, including “rigorously” controlling their “public and private meetings.”
The documents, supposedly drawn up by the city’s Commission on Ethnicities, Sects and Religions, and obtained by the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran and the International Federation for Human Rights, highlight a series of steps against a range of religious communities, including Christians, with “bringing (Baha’i children) to Islam” among the core directives.
The commission operates under the auspices of Iran’s National Security Council, chaired by President Hassan Rouhani.
Diane Ala’i, the representative of the Baha’i International Community to the UN, said the documents, which would have been passed on to bodies including the military and police, would almost certainly come “from national government entities at the highest levels.”
Their existence “suggests that similar meetings and directives about the Baha’is may be occurring across Iran,” she added. “Clear plans to change children’s beliefs is a galling violation of human rights.”
The Bahaʼi faith, which has an estimated 6 million followers, originated in Iran during the 19th century. About 350,000 Baha’is live in Iran, making them the country’s largest religious minority.
The UN says since Iran’s 1979 revolution, hundreds have been executed and many more forced to flee. Their beliefs are considered heretical by the religious establishment.
Systematic attacks on members of the faith are commonplace. Many have faced bans on employment and university education, arbitrary detention, and have had their premises damaged and even firebombed.
The UN estimates that billions of dollars’ worth of land and property has been seized from members of the community, explicitly sanctioned by the regime.
Last year, it also determined that the Baha’i faith was no longer a recognized religion by the Iranian state.
“Despite constant claims from the government that Baha’is are not persecuted for their beliefs, the Iranian authorities have once again exposed their true intentions,” Ala’i said.
“This revelation is strikingly reminiscent of examples in history when governments have monitored minorities with draconian measures ahead of even more sinister actions.” 


Iran says nuclear talks with world powers to resume in a few weeks

Iran says nuclear talks with world powers to resume in a few weeks
Updated 9 sec ago

Iran says nuclear talks with world powers to resume in a few weeks

Iran says nuclear talks with world powers to resume in a few weeks
  • World powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna
  • The talks stopped in June, pending the start of Iran’s new government

DUBAI: Iran said on Tuesday that talks with world powers over reviving its 2015 nuclear deal would resume in a few weeks, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
“Every meeting requires prior coordination and the preparation of an agenda. As previously emphasized, the Vienna talks will resume soon and over the next few weeks,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to IRNA.
The world powers held six rounds of indirect talks between the United States and Iran in Vienna to try and work out how both can return to compliance with the nuclear pact, which was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump in 2018. The talks stopped in June, pending the start of Iran’s new government.


Libya’s eastern parliament pulls confidence from unity government

Libya’s eastern parliament pulls confidence from unity government
Updated 21 September 2021

Libya’s eastern parliament pulls confidence from unity government

Libya’s eastern parliament pulls confidence from unity government

TRIPOLI: Libya’s eastern-based parliament said on Tuesday it had withdrawn confidence from the unity government, though it would continue to operate as a caretaker administration.
The vote in the House of Representatives exemplifies the wrangling between rival factions and state bodies that has plagued UN-backed efforts to resolve Libya’s decade-long crisis by establishing a unity government and holding national elections.
In 2014, eastern and western factions split Libya in two in a civil war, with an internationally recognized government in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by the House of Representatives in the east.
Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah’s unity government was selected through a UN-sponsored dialogue and his government was installed by the House of Representatives in March.
Dbeibeh has a mandate to unify state institutions, improve government services and prepare for national presidential and parliamentary elections.
However, on Tuesday, after parliament summoned Dbeibeh and his ministers to answer questions this month, 89 of the 113 members present voted to withdraw confidence in him, the chamber’s spokesman and several other parliament members said.
There was no immediate comment from the government.
The UN forum decided that presidential and parliamentary elections should take place on Dec. 24, but disagreements now rage over the legal basis for the votes and the laws that will govern them.
This month, parliamentary speaker Aguila Saleh said the House of Representatives had passed a law for the presidential election, though it did not hold a final vote on the bill.
The validity of that law was promptly challenged by the High Council of State based in Tripoli, in the west, which produced its own, alternative election law.
The House of Representatives, which was elected seven years ago but divided when Libya split, has not yet produced a law for a parliamentary election. 


Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit

Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit
Updated 21 September 2021

Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit

Egypt offers to host 2022 UN Climate Change Summit
  • El-Sisi’s announcement came during his virtual participation in the Heads of State and Government on Climate meeting

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has announced Egypt’s aspiration to host the UN Climate Change Summit in 2022 on behalf of Africa. Britain will host this year’s summit in Glasgow in November.

El-Sisi’s announcement came during his virtual participation in the Heads of State and Government on Climate meeting on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

During the meeting, he stressed the importance of developed countries shouldering their responsibilities within the framework of the Paris Agreement and the UN Convention on Climate Change.

He also stressed the need to deal seriously with any unilateral measures that contribute to exacerbating the consequences of climate change, including construction of dams on international rivers without agreement with downstream countries.


El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis

El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis
Updated 21 September 2021

El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis

El-Sisi: Egypt seeks comprehensive political solution to Yemeni crisis

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi affirmed his country’s support all efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said Yemen’s Defense Minister Muhammad Ali Al-Maqdashi conveyed the greetings of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to El-Sisi and praised bilateral cooperation in all fields, especially military and security.

Radi added that El-Sisi asked to convey his greetings to Hadi and stressed the need for a solution that achieves Yemeni stability and unity, meets its people’s aspirations and ends foreign interference in the country.

El-Sisi said Egypt will spare no effort to assist Yemen in achieving these goals.


Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials

Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials
Updated 21 September 2021

Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials

Sudanese coup attempt failed, army in control – officials
  • Government claims the coup plotters were linked to the ousted Al-Bashir regime

DUBAI/KHARTOUM: An attempted coup in Sudan was organized by elements inside and outside the military establishment, leading to the first arrests of those involved in such a plot, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Tuesday.

The failed attempt was preceded by attempts to sow insecurity, especially in the east of Sudan, but had failed to undermine the country's democratic transition, Hamdok said in a televised statement.

The development underscored the fragility of Sudan’s path to democracy, more than two years after the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir amid a public uprising against his three-decade rule.

Sudan’s state-run television called on the public “to counter” the coup attempt but did not provide further details.

“All is under control. The revolution is victorious,” Mohammed Al-Fiky Suliman, a member of the ruling military-civilian council, wrote on Facebook. He also called on the Sudanese to protect the transition.

The government claimed the coup plotters were linked to the ousted Al-Bashir regime.

A military official said an unspecified number of troops from the armored corps were behind the attempt and that they tried to take over several government institutions but were stopped in their tracks. He said they had aimed to seize the military headquarters and the state television.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said over three dozen troops, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested. He did not provide further details, saying that a military statement would be released shorty.

The state-run SUNA news agency quoted Brig. Al-Tahir Abu Hajja, a media consultant for the military’s chief, as saying that the armed forces “thwarted the attempted coup and that all is completely under control.”

The agency said all troops taking part in the attempt were detained and that investigations have started. It did not provide further details.

Footage circulated online showing troops and armored vehicles deployed to main roads and intersections in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Security was also boosted at the military headquarters and other government buildings in the city.

Mohammed Hassan Al-Taishi, a member of the sovereign council, called the attempt a “foolish and bad choice.”

“The option of military coups has left us only a failed and weak country,” he wrote on Twitter. “The path toward democratic transition and securing the country’s political future and unity remains one option.”

Later, in a statement read on the state-run TV, Culture and Information Minister Hamza Baloul said security forces have arrested civilian and military leaders of the coup attempt, and that they have been interrogated after the military managed to get the armored corps camp south of Khartoum under control.

Baloul, who also the government spokesman, said authorities were chasing others “from the remnants” of Al-Bashir’s regime who were suspects in orchestrated the attempted coup. He did not give further details.

Sudan has been on a fragile path to democratic rule since the military’s ouster of Al-Bashir in April 2019, following four months of mass protests. The country is now ruled by a joint civilian and military government.

The transitional government has been under increasing pressure to end wars with rebel groups as it seeks to rehabilitate the country’s battered economy, attract much-needed foreign aid and deliver the democracy it promised.