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Iran Eliminates 'Other Option' Of Religious Affiliation For Citizens' IDs

Sample of an Iranian Smart National Identity Card. FILE

Recent reports on social media say the Islamic Republic of Iran has removed the option for "other religions" from the new application forms for the Smart National ID cards. Therefore, in the past several months, Baha'i citizens have been denied obtaining the ID cards.

Article 13 of the Islamic Republic Constitution stipulates that "Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian Iranians are the only recognized religious minorities, who, within the limits of the law, are free to perform their religious rites and ceremonies, and to act according to their own canon in matters of personal affairs and religious education."

Removal of the "other religions" affects Baha'is, a persecuted religious minority, in applying for a new National ID card. Without the ID, Baha'is will be deprived of a official and business transactions.

Therefore, the only way for Baha'i citizens of Iran to receive a new national ID card is lying and presenting themselves as the followers of Islam or the three "officially recognized" religious minorities.

However, Baha'ism strictly forbids its followers to lie or conceal their belief.

On her Twitter account, a civil rights activist, Bahareh Hedayat has published a photo of the Islamic Republic Registry Office's reply to a Baha'i's inquiry, saying, "Dear citizen---the passed law has not included the religion you have in mind, and it has not contrived a solution for the problem---."

Apparently, a conservative legislator's comment last year has forced the Islamic Republic Ministry of Interior to remove "other options" from the new ID card application form.

Majles (Iranian parliament) website cited the representative of the city of Khomeinishar, Mohammad Javad Abtahi, as saying in January 2019, that keeping' other options' on the ID card application forms could mean that the Islamic Republic recognizes all other religions along with Islam, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity.

In a cautionary note to the Interior Minister Abdur-Reza Rahmani Fazli, the ultraconservative MP reminded that the term "other options" is against the Islamic Republic's Constitution, and gives legitimacy to devious sects.

Should the option not be removed, Abtahi had threatened to follow up the case through other relevant channels.

However, in an interview with the Lebanese Mayadeen TV, the former Secretary of the Iranian Judiciary's High Council for Human Rights, Mohammad Javad Larijani, had noted on November 16, 2019, "According to our constitution, there is no Baha'i religion. It is a sect. [Nevertheless] they are entitled to government benefits and to all the services it provides its citizens, as long as they abide by the constitution."

It goes without saying that having a national ID card is an absolute right of any citizen, anywhere in the world.

Furthermore, Article 19 of the Islamic Republic Constitution stipulates, "All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights, and color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege."

Article 23 also holds that "the investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief."

Nonetheless, since the establishment of the Islamic Republic (1979), the Shi'ite clergy-dominated regime has systematically persecuted the Bahais and violated their human rights with impunity.