Originally uploaded by Vahid&Khatera.
Baha'is were in attendance and had an opportunity to present at the Iran Heritage Conference recently. Here is Moojan Momen presenting his paper "Conspiracy Theories and Forgeries: The Baha'i Community of Iran and the Construction of an Internal Enemy."
[Thanks to Anonymous, here is a summary of Momen's paper which I will add to the post:
"The Baha'i community in Iran, although periodically persecuted, was in a strong position at the end of the nineteenth century. At this time, it was at the forefront of such issues as education, advancing the social role of women and bringing about democratic change in society. It was gaining converts rapidly and was setting up educational and democratic institutions throughout the country, even at village level. This strength brought about a reaction from two main groups. The clerical classes increased their attacks leading to anti-Baha'i pogroms in some cities. This paper will focus, however, upon the manner in which the other group, the Azalis and individuals allied to them, created a perception among liberals, democrats and intellectuals that the Baha'i community was inimical and antithetical to progress and reform, that it was in league with foreign powers and that it should therefore be opposed. Thus the Baha'i community, which could have been an ally and a powerful resource for those advocating progress and development in Iran, became instead the 'internal enemy', a group to be feared and contained. The main weapons in the Azali campaign against the Baha'is included creating conspiracy theories and forgeries. These were mainly intended to show the Baha'is as unpatriotic agents of foreign powers or as reactionary elements opposed to change. In the mid-twentieth century, the elements created by the Azali campaign were taken over and added to by a small number of Baha'i apostates acting in league with Islamic groups. This paper will argue that this process resulted not only in a denial of human rights to the Baha'is but also, by creating scapegoats, second-class citizens and a culture of conspiracy theories, it facilitated the establishment of the authoritarian regimes and contributed to the failure to create in Iran a vigorous civil society." ]