They were quiet family, not politically minded, and they did not get involved in community unrest or gossip. Fear of people knocking on the door, or of a stranger showing up in the neighborhood with unknown intentions, drove them to withdraw from society. They were careful, so careful, that they barely mingled with anyone. They were our neighbors in Iran and trusted us enough to visit with us, until one day, they no longer did.
We checked on them out of concern. Their house was empty. There was no note, no goodbyes to anyone; they were just gone. Despite being our friends, they had never mentioned their last name. We had no way to track them down, to make sure they were safe and unharmed.
Then someone mentioned that they were from the Baha’i religious minority. He explained that the government had finally come for them. All of their fear and seclusion now had a reason. You could see how protective and careful the father was, how fearful and silent the mother was, and how their daughter would never venture far from home. I had thought their problem was just paranoia. In that moment, you see that you, too, have reason to be afraid.
May 14 is the ninth anniversary of the arrest of Bahai’s leadership which included the arrest of seven Baha’i leaders known as “Yaran” or “Friends in Iran”.
The Baha’i faith is monotheistic, but a religious minority in Iran. The Baha’i community has been peaceful and apolitical for a long time.
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