The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


Nima Hazini on Homa Mahmoudi's program on Iranian TV network

See other messages regarding Hoda Mahmoudi

Btw, it is not _Hoda_ Mahmudi who hosts the NITV
program but her elder sister HOMA Mahmudi. This was confirmed by NITV
itself. I was mistaken as to which of the Mahmudi's it was. But, all the
same, the points stand as before and makes not the slightest difference.
Nima Hazini

NITV further details

Fri, 30 Aug 2002

I would like to draw the attention of my fellow compatriots as well as
average rank-and-file Baha'is to an issue which I believe beautifully
underscores the blatant public hypocrisy and power mongering of Baha'i
officials and those who are connected to them, and why especially
non-aligned Iranians should be ever heedful of wools being pulled over their
eyes by the PR machine of the Baha'i administration. To begin with, it is a
well known (or, rather, well claimed) principle of the Baha'i faith that
sectarian political involvement of any sort is to be shunned and is
therefore categorically prohibited to Baha'is. While this principle has not
always been meticulously adhered to either by officials or those connected
to them (i.e. Sabet, Yazdani, Ayadi, et al), nevertheless it is an issue
which has been used repeatedly to either sanction or strong-arm less well
connected (and average) Baha'is by the Baha'i leadership into submission and
thus compliance with its dictates.

Recently Ms Hoda Mahmudi, who formerly served in an official administraive
capacity as an Auxilliary Board Member for Protection (and the person sent
on the failed mission to interrogate Fredrick Glaysher for his views and
then briefly Terry Culhane), has been a regular commentator on and
contributor to the satellite opposition Iranian Television broadcasting
station NITV. The station itself, its broadcasts or its specific slant or
political views are not an issue for me, as I avidly watch it myself as well
as include myself firmly within the camp of opposition to the illegitimate
fascist totalitarian Islamist regime in Tehran which I hope will be toppled
in short order. However, I am not a Baha'i, but Hoda Mahmudi is! The
specific issue in question relates to --and one which in due time I will
disclose the full details relating thereunto to SCI, TRB and other Iranian
groups and boards on the internet -- the double standards regularly employed
by Baha'i officials to dupe a non-Baha'i public audience, on the one hand;
and the authoritarian bullying of average individual Baha'is internally who
sincerely engage in association and fellowship with other Iranians who are
non-aligned, locally and on a smaller scale, in no different terms than what
Ms Mahmoudi is doing herself in LA, on the other. Baha'i officials regularly
admonish rank-and-file Baha'is to keep far and away from their compatriots,
but then actively seek celebrity status in the name of the Baha'i faith to
advance some dubious agenda of their own with the larger Iranian community.

That said, it has been claimed for two decades now by Baha'i officials that
any overt acts of alignment or fellowship with various non-Baha'i groups
with stated political platforms will have adverse repercussions for the
Baha'is of Iran. To any unbiased observer, Hoda Mahmudi's activities in any
capacity on the NITV network do just that -- it also gives the lie away and
a useful weapon to the IR itself to use against the Baha'is inside
Iran --and as such it is highly irresponsible of the Baha'i leadership at
this time to be foisting Ms Mahmudi on the INTV network and upon the larger
Iranian community, given the potential fallout such activities will most
definitely have for their co-religionists back home. Rank-and-file Baha'is
have been sanctioned and thus humiliated by the Baha'i leadership for far
less than what Ms Mahmudi is being led to do right now representing the
Baha'i leadership as she is on NITV.

Nima Hazini

This is my last group email. But I would also like to draw your attention to
the following: NITV's charter explicitly calls for the overthrow of the
Islamic regime in Iran and the securing of freedom, independence and
equality of all Iranians. This is a sentiment shared by all of us Iranians,
young, old, expatriate and non-expatriate alike, but a sentiment that is
overtly political as far as the Baha'is are concerned and one which in the
short term, at least, directly imperils the lives of rank-and-file Baha'is
inside Iran when their representatives are
openly taking a political stance on a political network such as this. The
question is why NITV, when there are a host of local Iranian broadcasting
stations in LA and elsewhere with cultural programs which can just as easily
cater for and thus be utilized for discussions of the Baha'i religion? The
answer is obvious and need not even be stated. However, I find it even more
hypocritical of the Baha'i leadership when Baha'is without connections to
the Baha'i officiocracy are threatened with administrative sanctions and
then their family lives disrupted for merely reading poetry in Iranian but
non-political oriented local television broadcasts.

The NITV station itself is funded ostensibly by one Zia Atabai a former
entertainer/singer-songwriter from the Pahlavi era. Zia's father was a
Baha'i and his mother a Muslim. Like myself he has no religious
affilliations to speak of, but is sympathetic to the plight of the Baha'is
in Iran -- as we all are.

However, you might wish to note that Zia is related to Farah Diba (the
former Empress) and openly supports Reza Pahlavi as the future monarch of
Iran. He has conducted many interviews with Farah and Reza
Pahlavi on NITV since its very inception. The station is marred by the lack
of financial resources and many volunteers assist Zia in keeping it going.
It broadcasts through the Telstar satellite network and is broadcast into
Iran itself 24/7 and many of those who can pick up through their bootleg
satellitte dishes inside Iran call in to the show regularly. Most Iranian
companies and businesses do not advertise on NITV because they feel it might
jeopordise their trade relations with the Islamic Republic. So Zia draws on
private donations and
subscriptions to keep the show going (a desperate, last minute fund raising
effort earlier this year raised close to a million US dollars). Therefore,
if you pay enough, you can have your own show on NITV on virtually any
subject of your choosing. I suspect this is what has happened and that
Mahmudi's program would therefore be bankrolled by the Baha'i
administration. If this is the case, the Baha'i leadership and the LA
monarchists both are playing with fire, and the Baha'i leadership is
inserting itself into the political process of Iran in a manner very much
reminiscent of the days of old when Habib Sabet, Dr. Ayadi and Hojabr
Yazdani where in the 'in' with the previous regime. These relations of high
ranking Baha'is, more than any other factor, where what
was ultimately responsible for the wholesale persecution of the many
innocent, average rank-and-file Baha'is who stayed behind under the
Khomeinists. It would seem therefore, and arguably so, that the Baha'i
leadership really doesn't care a fig for the safety of its own people inside
Iran and has used them as a pawn for its own nefarious agendas for decades
now -- and this now is solid proof! How incredibly sad that the Iranian
Baha'is should be betrayed by their own like this and deemed expendable no
less by their own leadership!

Nima Hazini

Dear Roya Parsay:

Dorud bar shomaa! If my data is incorrect, kindly provide the correct data
and I would be more than happy to amend the information accordingly and
publically retract if I have made a gross misstatement.

As to your claim that the Baha'is are participating in your network for pure
humanitarian purposes, that is an empty and bogus claim all around,
especially where the Baha'is are concerned. I am an ex-Baha'i and I know the
gratuitous opportunism of the Baha'i officiocracy all too well. Baha'i
officials have recently threatened with sanctions and split up the families
of certain Baha'is for participating in Persian cultural programs locally,
accusing them of partisan political involvement, merely for reading the
poetry of Rumi and Hafiz! If the participation of the Baha'is is
humanitarian in this case, as you say, then why isn't this humanitarianism
also extended to those who are unconnected to the Baha'i leadership as Ms
Mahmudi is? I fail to see the consistency here. Unfortunately I believe the
Baha'i leadership as represented on your network by Ms Mahmudi have also
managed to pull the wool over the eyes of yourself as well as Mr Atabay as
to their underlying motivations. Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing
spotlessly 'humanitarian' in motivation or origin about Baha'is
participating on an overtly pro-monarchist network such as NITV.

That said, you might wish to appraise yourself of what is truly happening
inside the Baha'i community (which on a smaller scale mirrors the sort of
abuses descriptive of the Khomeinists in Iran) by perusing the following
sites as well as the articles by University of Michigan Professor Juan R.I
Cole (History):

The Bahai Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

Juna R.I Cole "The Baha'i Faith in America as Panopticon, 1963-1997" Journal
for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 37, No. 2 (June 1998): 234-248

Juan R.I Cole "Fundamentalism in the Contemporary U.S. Baha'i Community."
Religious Studies Review, Vol. 43, no. 3 (March, 2002):195-217

eraadatmand, Nima Hazini

Of course I am most delighted that this revelation about Baha'i AO
officiocratic involvement with the pro-monarchist NITV has now come out into
the full light of day. This places the Baha'i AO's cards, at least, firmly
on the table on where they actually stand regarding the future of my
homeland. So now let me ask them the following:

1) Who negotiated with NITV to have this program? Such programs do not
appear out of thin air. There are always legal/contractual processes
involved in the finalization of such things long before they are aired.

2) Who decided that the monarchists should be given preferential treatment
over other opposition groups?

3) On what grounds did Zia Atabai grant them permission to air a program on
the Baha'i faith on their station, and what are the trade offs?

4) Given this, is it not  therefore plausibe to speculate (as it has been by
Islamists and as once dismissed by myself and others), that since the Radio
Voice of Israel has openly come out in support of Reza Pahlavi, that there
are now ties between the Israeli government, Iranian Jews in LA with stated
pro-Israeli views, the Jewish producers of NITV and the AO mob obviously in
charge of promoting this program?

Arguably the people who made this decision are the old time moneyed Nouveau
Riche Baha'is of the Pahlavi era who enjoyed unlimited priviliges under that
regime (namely Shapour Rassekh, Iraj Ayman, Farhang
Holaaku'i, and others). At this time from the numerous letters of feeback I
and others have recieved privately over this there are clear signs of
discomfort and disenchantment amongst many Iranian Baha'is of an even
conservative bent over this program and its choice of forum. This shows that
the AO is not only out on left field, as usual, but also completely out of
touch with many among its own core political constituents.

Clearly, at this point, it seems the dominant clique inside the Baha'i
religion who are pulling the strings are longing for a repeat performance of
the good old days under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi: a performance the
actions and repercussions of which ultimately cost the Iranian Baha'i
community quite heavily and dearly under the Khomeinists and was the basis
upon which many innocent, average Baha'is suffered persecution by that
regime. At this time, there doesn't seem to be any guarantees that should
Reza Pahlavi be installed as monarch (constitutional or otherwise) the
Baha'i AO would not support another Hojabr Yazdani, Dr Ayadi or Habib Sabet
from once again cooperating self-servingly with the Pahlavi mob. Their
current behavior and particularly their relationship with NITV currently
demonstrates otherwise. So I frankly ask the Baha'i leadership the

1) Do you believe in the democratic form of government?
2) Do you believe in the separation of religion and state?
3) Do you believe in self-determination and independence for Iran?
4) What lessons have you learnt from the last Revolution?
5) What do you truly think of the activities of Habib Sabet, Hojabr Yazdani
and Dr Ayadi and co under the last Pahlavi regime before the Revolution?
6) What is your attitude to an individual Baha'i having a program on, let us
say for the sake of argument, a network run by the Iranian Communist Party,
the National Front or even the MKO?

I look forward to your official response regarding all (not some, but ALL)
of these questions.

Nima Hazini

Mon, 2 Sep 2002
Another aspect of this sorry saga relates to the pre-publication review
process. The Baha'i leadership maintains strict censorship on what is
acceptable for publication by Baha'is and have managed to silence prominent
liberal Baha'i scholars and ruin the careers of many Baha'i intellectuals
who have dared to research the history and origins of their Faith -- all in
the name of maintaining the "good impression of the Faith in the eyes of the

From the vast array of Iranian Bahai writers and intellectuals, only a
handful, like Dr. Maneck for example, are given the "privilege" of
publishing their works and speak at various Baha'i studies conferences
around the globe. Only a couple of Iranian Baha'is are allowed to publish
journals and monthly periodicals. For far too long, the scene of Baha'i
studies in Persian has been dominated by senior citizen Pahlavi era hacks
such as Muhammad- Hosseini, Rassekh and Ayman. The tight censorship is such
that even Shapour Rassekh writes his articles in his Journal 'Payam-e
Baha'i' under the pseudonym of 'Pazhoohesh-Gar' or 'Pazhoohandeh'.

In the days when prominent (but not well connected) Baha'i liberal
intellectuals are intimidated and sanctioned by the AO for voicing their
conscience; in the days when a harmless newsletter in LA is placed under
official sanctions because it "could reflect negatively on the plight of
the Baha'is in Iran"; in the days when the official history of the Faith
(Nabil's account) is not fully made available because "it might reflect
negatively on the faith;" in the days when the editors of an independent
Baha'i magazine, "Dialogue," are forced out of business and tossed out off
the rolls for "misrepresenting the faith" and "negative campaigning", in the
days where the Review process is enforced on practically all printed forms
of communications by the AO; in the days when Raassekh's 'Payam-e Baha'i'
refuses to print poems and articles sent by Iranian Baha'is from
acround the globe on the grounds that "they may be preceived to the contrary
by the enemies of the faith", how can Mahmoudi's program be portrayed as
anything but an instrument in the hands of the AO?

In order to set the record straight, I ask the UHJ specifically to:

a) Renounce any links with the program, presenters and policies of NITV
b) Distance itself from the contents of Ms Mahmoudi's program
c) Come forward and explain why they have allowed such a program to be aired

Failure to do so effectively means that the whole enterprise has been
supported and guided by the Baha'i World Centre from the begining and they
must accept the full responsibility of the consequences of this decision on
the Baha'is of Iran.

In the interest of fairness, I ask the UHJ to make available the results of
their "review" on the contents of Ms Mahmoudi's program. Failure to do so,
would once again highlight the fact that within the Iranian Baha'i
community, as long maintained by myself and others, "some are more equal
than others".

Nima Hazini

Search talk.religion.bahai for further discussion of Mahmoudi: