The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Juan R. I. Cole <>
To: <>; <>
Subject: Re: Control of media?
Date: Sunday, February 08, 1998 1:53 PM
The question here is rights.  Rights don't depend on a person's attitudes.
Human beings, even Baha'is and ex-Baha'is, have rights by virtue of being
human beings.
The letter from Henderson to the NSA of Australia injured Nima Hazini's
rights in a number of ways.  
1)  It injured Hazini's right to freedom of conscience, since it implied
that there was something wrong with his declining to disavow Baha'u'llah
when he withdrew from the Baha'i organization.
2)  It injured Hazini's right to privacy, since obviously his movements were
tracked, as was his joining a Sufi order.  He is not a Baha'i.  How did Mr.
Henderson know he was going to Australia or that he had joined a Sufi order?
How was that any of his business?  What gives the Baha'i organization the
right to spy on people, Baha'is or non-Baha'is?
3)  It injured Hazini's right to free association, since it implicitly
encouraged the Australian Baha'i authorities to discourage Australian Baha'i
youth from associating with Mr. Hazini.  
As for the possibility that Mr. Henderson's actions in this regard were
"rogue" actions, for which he might be reprimanded (by his colleagues on the
National Spiritual Assembly or by the Universal House of Justice?), you have
no way of knowing this.  You are simply speculating.  I would place a rather
large bet that if the Hazinis appealed all this to the universal house of
justice, the latter would support Mr. Henderson's actions (as they have
supported him in a number of other questionable cases).
And just let me repeat that a person's human rights cannot be withdrawn
simply because they hold unpopular views.  "Taking responsibility" seems to
be Baha'i rightwing doublespeak for withdrawing human rights from
dissidents.  Dissent can be good, and it, too, is a human right.  In any
case, I'm unaware that Mr. Hazini has ever been publicly critical of the
Baha'i administration.  He certainly, obviously, was privately dismayed
enough by it to dissociate himself from it, as a number of Baha'i
intellectuals have been in the past two years.
cheers   Juan

>Actually, I think Mr. Henderson's letter was *highly* problematic. 
>In fact I would be very surprised if he were not 'called on the 
>carpet' for it.  I just don't think you presented what it is said 
>very accurately. I also think that there are some who refuse to take 
>adequate responsibility for provoking these kinds of reactions from 
>members of the Institutions.