“The two murderers of Farhang Amiri, a Baha’i [citizen of Iran] who was stabbed to death in September 2016 in Iran, have been released on bail after having confessed to killing him because of his faith,” the Baha’i International Community (BIC) has announced in a statement.
Reports quoted one of the alleged murderers as publicly admitting to killing Amiri “for his religion and faith.”
The court hearing concerning the murder of Amiri took place on May 3 behind closed doors.
“This development is appalling,” Diane Alai, a representative for BIC, told the United Nations in Geneva. “How could a fair justice system possibly allow two murderers who have admitted to killing an innocent individual because of his beliefs and expressed a willingness to do it again be released and allowed to live freely in society?”
According to other Baha’i sources, Amiri was murdered outside his home on September 26, 2016, in the city of Yazd, where his family had long resided. On the evening of the murder, the two men -- who had come to his residence the night before under the pretense of wanting to purchase his vehicle -- returned to ask for Amiri. When he came to the door, they stabbed him multiple times.
Amiri died of his wounds hours later at the hospital.
“The two murderers, who are brothers, were apprehended by local shopkeepers as they tried to run away and were handed over to police,” the news website for BIC reported on June 13. “During their subsequent interrogations and court hearings, they admitted to having killed Amiri because he was a Baha’i.”
Furthermore, “They disclosed that they were prompted to carry out this act by their religious beliefs and statements made by clerics that Baha’is are against Islam. The father of the two men is reported to have complained about a cleric who is responsible for radicalizing his two sons.”
Baha’i sources also maintain that “an authority advised the family privately to drop the charges as otherwise “conditions would be made very difficult for them.” In addition to releasing the two men, the judge stated that according to Iranian law, even if the family did not drop the charges the sentences handed down to the brothers would be light.
The murder took place in Qassim Abad neighborhood in city of Yazd, 623 km (388 mi) southeast of Tehran, where people of different denominations, including Zoroastrians and Baha’is, alongside Muslims, have been living in peace for decades.
Iran does not recognize the Baha’i faith as an official religion. Moreover, several Shi’ite grand ayatollahs have taken strict positions against it.
“The murder of Amiri is very clearly the result of years of hateful propaganda and incitement to hatred by the media and religious leaders against the Baha’is in Iran,” Alai said.
Nevertheless, Baha’i sources insist “there are increasing indications that the people of Iran in general support the rights of the Baha’is as equal citizens.”
Iranian high level offcials have not yet reacted to Amiri’s murder and the allegedly religious motives behind it.
“Representatives of the Iranian judiciary have time and again claimed in international forums that Baha’is are treated like all other citizens,” Alai said. “However, unfortunately, this latest decision of the court casts further light on Iran’s discriminatory laws against the Baha’is and the systematic deprivation of an entire community to basic legal protection. We hope the court will overrule its decision to release Amiri’s murderers and will not let their act go unpunished.”