A Tale of two Shrines

With very different endings

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Not far from these gates there is a shrine in an idyllic, tranquil setting. It is beautifully landscaped and tended with care, a jewel set among gardens.

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The shrine - just out of sight - is not in Athens, not even in Greece. In these gardens by the sea, other buildings tell their own stories of harmony and peace.
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This is the shrine. By day and night it stands as a shining symbol of tolerance and love.

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The country people love to hate
This is Mount Carmel. The town below is the port of Haifa. The shrine is in Israel. This is the country many people love to hate. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where this shrine is safe from attack and destruction.

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First of all.A TALE OF TWO SHRINES We often hear that Israel is a „fascist. 6 . here are some important images. apartheid state‟. Is this true? Have the Jews who sought refuge in their ancient homeland really become the Nazis who persecuted them ? Have the victims of the longest racist persecuation really become racists themselves ? To help you decide. we have to travel to the city of Shiraz in Iran…. a cross between Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

the house belonged to the Bab. his remains are buried in the golden shrine in Israel. Iran This was the holiest room in what was once the most sacred site for Iran‟s largest religious minority. Today. Situated in Shiraz.Shiraz. the Baha‟is. 7 . the first of the two Baha‟i prophets.

not now. nightingales and poets. This was once the city of roses. 8 . This was an organised.The work of hate Here is the same house in 1979. This was not done by an enraged mob. but not here. a few months after the Iranian revolution. officially sanctioned effort to destroy the soul of a religious community.

and buildings of the international Baha’i centre on Mount Carmel. Why would ‘Nazi’ Jews even care about the Baha’is. much less award them such prominence and protection? If Israelis are really so odious . the shrine of the Bab is not just tolerated. terraces. why are they behaving so differently from the Iranians ? If they are modern-day Nazis. It is given pride of place among the gardens.In the supposed ‘fascist’ state of Israel. where are the bulldozers? 9 .

which guarantees freedom of worship to everyone.tourist. pilgrim. Christian. Jew and Muslim. The gardens are open to everyone . 10 . T The Baha’i concept of religious tolerance is supported positively in Israel.Zionism is racism? The Shrine of the Bab stands at the centre of some of the most beautiful gardens on the Mediterranean coast.

It is only in Israel that anyone shows them respect. Israel’s Jews remember what it is to have their holy places smashed to rubble. seek converts. or worship in public. get married. publish or distribute their scriptures. They cannot attend school. 11 . the Baha‟is are banned or persecuted. hold passports. In every other country of the Middle East.A different logic A different logic applies in Israel.

Do they really know what this means ? 12 . marchers carry banners claiming “We are all Hizbullah”.In the UK.

these are monuments to two Baha‟i saints.In Israel. aren’t we? 13 . set in the lush Baha‟i gardens on Mount Carmel. ‘We are all Hizbullah’.. Back in Haifa.. Hizbullah rockets landed not far from these gardens. In 2006.

The aim of Hizbullah is the final destruction of Israel. it continues to finance and arm it. Iran created Hizbullah. This is racism. a country that still kills its own citizens for the flimsiest of reasons. ‘We are all Hizbullah’. Really? 14 . This is fascism. Their crime? Teaching Sunday School. This is not the supposedly „fascist regime‟ of Israel. The youngest was seventeen. This is the actually fascist regime of Iran.Here are ten Baha‟i women hanged by the state of Iran in 1983. Today.

Fascist intolerance expressed in violence on the one hand. a modern democracy on the other hand.a hand held out in peace on the other. Dogged hatred on the one hand . A fascist state on the one hand.By now. 15 . you will have noticed a pattern. and on the other hand a tolerance so complete it has few parallels in the world.

that most hated of countries. we‟ll take a look at some other religions. If you care about human rights. 16 . look at more photographs of Baha‟i holy places. a country condemned for its „human rights abuses‟ . After that.while real abusers of human rights are treated with kid gloves.Perhaps it‟s time to go back to Israel.

Or worse. the Shrine of Baha‟ Allah. This is an excellent example of how Israel treats minorities. 17 . In Iran or Saudi Arabia this would be rubble.Across the bay from Haifa is the holiest Baha‟i site in the world. In Iran or Saudi Arabia its custodians would be in prison.

The Iranians or Hamas or Hizbullah would do a much better job. anti-racist religion. All races. As you look at the following photographs. villagers from India. apartheid state‟ is clearly so ineffective at wiping out the sacred sites of an anti-fascist. Why would an ‘apartheid’ nation of ‘fascists’ encourage them ? 18 . all nationalities. what do you think ? The Baha’is number some 5-6 million members around the world. all former religious backgrounds. farmers from Africa. If you care about tolerance.The Baha‟i world centre in Haifa is large and growing. including tribespeople from the Amazon. ask yourself why a so-called „Nazi.

Why would the Baha‟is. Israel doesn‟t have the worst human rights record. facing persecution elsewhere. Unless. perhaps. it has one of the best… 19 . perhaps. seek to build and expand their holiest shrines and their world centre in the middle of a state with supposedly „the worst human rights record in the world‟ ? Unless.

But it‟s not just the Baha‟is… Israel is home to many races and many religions 20 .

Druze. No one is persecuted. Ahmadi Muslims. and others.Pluralism and Religious Tolerance Israel is a place of refuge for Jews. Christians are safer than anywhere else in the Middle East. Muslims. Hindus. Buddhists. 21 . Baha‟is. Christians of every denomination. No one is molested. Like the Baha‟is. the Ahmadis are safer in Israel than at home in Pakistan.

’ 22 .Article 1 of Israel’s 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law. ‘The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.

23 . churches are treated with respect. In Israel. overlooking the Sea of Galilee. near the spot on which Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount.Freedom of Worship This is the Church of the Beatitudes.

Bibles are confiscated by the police. while Sufi and Shi„i shrines are deemed heretical and have been demolished. Isn’t there some sort of contradiction here? 24 . a country that protects Muslims and their holy places. In Saudi Arabia. Arabs have more rights in Israel than in any Arab country. churches and synagogues are banned.Double Standard? This is a mosque outside Tel Aviv. Nobody takes to the streets to protest about the way the Saudi regime treats non-Muslims and non-Wahhabi Muslims . But they march to condemn Israel.

it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants. it will guarantee freedom of religion. justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel. race or sex. education and culture. it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles. 25 . From the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel. it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion. conscience. and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. language. it will be based on freedom.

is now 20% Christian. In Israel. which was 80% Christian before 1995. after a firebombing in 2006. 26 . in the West Bank. The above facts speak for themselves.A Greek Orthodox church in Nablus. Bethlehem. Israelis are accused of being fascists who engage in ethnic cleansing. Under the control of the Palestine Authority. the Christian population has increased by four times since 1948. there has been what amounts to an ethnic cleansing of Christians from Gaza and the West Bank.

‘fascist’ or otherwise. the awaited saviour. father of the Imam Mahdi. This was not done by Jews.This is one of the holiest Shi‟i shrines in the world. 27 . It holds the remains of Imam Hasan al-‟Askari. It was bombed by Sunni insurgents in February 2006. This was done by Muslims. To Muslims. This was not done by Israelis.

we can no longer argue against it. It‟s time to take stock. we have to examine them. Whatever its faults. then we need to re-focus Does it seem logical that. or „an apartheid state‟ without ever setting them against reality. if the Israelis were „Nazis‟. Israel can hardly be accused of religious intolerance or discrimination. When the evidence is so great. whatever our prejudices. Why would anyone who believes in toleration want to attack Israel? If we can accept that. „a Nazi state‟. Socrates said: „An unexamined life is not worth living‟. It‟s very easy to level accusations of „a fascist state‟.There comes a moment when. they would protect Muslim mosques? Or that they would repay centuries of Christian persecution of Jews by placing Christian places of worship under state protection? Or that they would incur the wrath of the Iranian regime by harbouring the Baha‟i world centre? 28 .

It‟s not too late to take a second look at Israel 29 .

demonstrating. destroying. burning. and threatening more violence to come. suicide bombing.A common sight We have become accustomed to the sight of radical Muslims marching. 30 . car bombing. protesting.

the slaughter of Christians in Pakistan. Hizbollah. or any other Islamist movement. We have rarely seen anyone take to the streets about this. Bombay. and Jews in Israel killed by suicide bombers and rockets. 31 . Yazidis in Iraq. Hindus in Kashmir. Hamas. synagogues and Hindu temples. Baha‟is in Iran. and Hyderabad.Are Muslims the world’s only victims ? Political activists committed to humanitarian issues have rarely protested the slaughter carried out by al-Qaeda. They are not offended by the burning of churches. Indonesia and Nigeria.

We can choose to identify with a brutal terrorist group and march in its support. Moral decisions. Or we can make the moral choice. We can choose to turn a blind eye to those who were murdered in New York on 9/11 or in Madrid or Bali or London.It's your decision We all have to make decisions. tolerant democracy a fascist state. We can shake hands with despots and theocrats who bulldoze shrines. We can choose to call an ethical. Decisions for ourselves and for the rest of humanity. 32 .

. Iran. tortured. We can choose to turn our backs on those who are hanged. 2005. They met a slow death by strangulation. or burned to death simply because they are unbelievers or homosexuals or young women with boyfriends or something else that radical Muslim states and organizations don‟t approve of. How many marched in protest? 33 .. Two teenage boys go to the gallows for the crime of being gay. We can stare into the face of horror and remain silent.Don't say you didn't know. beheaded.

the supposedly ‘Nazi state’. or so small as not to inflict pain. Is this the merciful face of Islam ? This is not Israel. 34 . This is Israel’s chief foe. A legal ruling states that the stones should not be so large as to cause early death. Stonings often take hours. This woman has been found guilty of adultery and is being buried in preparation for stoning. She loved someone and is paying the price.In Iran...

Jewish religious authorities have ruled against capital punishment. the State of Israel abolished the death sentence. while morally opposed to the death penalty. Which fascist state or apartheid regime has ever banned capital punishment? And which country. Neither terrorists nor mass killers are hanged. totalitarian state? 35 . In continuity with this tradition.For 2000 years. has ever become a fascist.

All citizens of the country. in conformity with Islamic criteria. They bear no resemblance to reality. and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief. both men and women. political.   36 . 39. All affronts to the dignity and repute of persons arrested. and cultural rights. equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human. or banished in accordance with the law. whatever form they may take. They seem entirely reasonable. are forbidden and liable to punishment. economic. The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden. 23. detained.Here are three articles from the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. social.  20. imprisoned.

. Here are some samples of the reality… 37 ..In Iran.

3. 5. body and dignity. 4. extradition or otherwise. 38 . There shall be no violation of the life.Here is an extract from one of the Basic Laws of the State of Israel 1. 2. body or dignity of any person as such. in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. There shall be no violation of the property of a person. There shall be no deprivation or restriction of the liberty of a person by imprisonment. All persons are entitled to protection of their life. arrest. The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty.

... 39 .In Israel. An Arab woman can cast her vote..

. A gay pride march.. 40 ..In Israel..

‟ 41 . In the face of the Jews‟ usurpation of Palestine. it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.From article 15 of the Hamas Covenant… „The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land. Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem.

or its internationalization. reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem.‟ 42 . expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution.Article 21 of the PLO Charter… The Arab Palestinian people.

Who is a Nazi? Members of the Palestinian security forces using a familiar salute… 43 .

We recognise no treaty with it. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. no cease fire. at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people.From the 1985 ‘Open Letter’ (al-Risala al-maftuha) of Hizbullah… Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception. whether separate or consolidated. and no peace agreements. and built on lands wrested from their owners. 44 .

They have sworn to fight until every Jew is dead. are taking the wrong side.Are we all Hezbollah? Here are Hizbullah fighters using the Nazi salute. The men in these pictures are the new SS. Israelis are fighting the new Nazis.‟ A profound evil has re-entered our lives. through laziness and ignorance. What does it take to convince the world that Israel is not a ‘Nazi state’ and that Hizbullah are not friendly freedom fighters? 45 . And many of us. Yet „lovers of peace‟ call Israelis „Nazis‟ and to say „We are all Hizbullah.

Do they want this to happen again? 46 . Yet many young people today have no problem identifying themselves with modern-day fascists such as Hizbullah and Hamas.Never Again? There are many alive today who remember World War II. the Holocaust and the Nazis. . We said it would never happen again.

for Ethiopians. for gay Arabs. How can such a country be described as an ‘apartheid state’? Survivors of the death camps head for the Promised Land Years later. an Ethiopian refugee starts a new life 47 . for Russian Christians. for Arab women threatened with „honour‟ killings. and for Jews from all round the world.Isn‟t it time to take moral stock of ourselves? We can start by considering the following: Israel is a haven for people of all religions. It is a refuge from persecution.

atheists. Most of the marchers ! 48 . Christians. reformists. imprison. agnostics. torture or execute Jews. Sikhs. homosexuals. Hindus. Baha‟is. Druze. Ahmadis. or liberal intellectuals.Liberal Cause?? In Europe. The movements that they support would persecute. feminists. secularists. the streets are full of men and women baying in support of terrorist movements.

When people say they are all Hizbullah. That is what Hizbullah does in Lebanon too. then it’s wrong to bomb a bus in Haifa. If it’s wrong to bomb a bus in London. what do they mean? Do they plan to kill women and children? That is what Hizbullah rockets do. This is murder. This is what they are signing up for. Hamas and Hizbullah plan genocide. They kill Israeli civilians: Jews and Arabs alike. 49 .

Who are the "Good Guys? Perhaps it‟s time to think twice about Israel. Could the Israelis be the good guys after all… ? Is this really ‘Israeli apartheid’ in action ? A teacher and child at an Israeli AIDS project in Malawi 50 .

anti-Semites. 51 . You too can be Hizbollah. Nazi sympathizers. with all the holy places and believers it protects.Which side are you on? Today. the Jews have a state. You can join forces with religious fanatics. preachers of genocide and racists. Holocaust deniers. Or you can stand up for justice and human rights. and recognize Israel for what it is: an imperfect but progressive democracy that stands head and shoulders above most countries when it comes to human rights and a desire for peace. You have a choice: You can join those who want to destroy that state. for the first time in almost 2000 years. Are you Hizbollah? The choice is yours.

Are you? 52 . Iranian soldiers giving the Fascist Salute. It is a living contradiction of the Holocaust.Are we really all Hezbollah? Israel was built as a refuge for the survivors of the greatest crime in history. Israeli troops do not give the Nazi salute or goosestep when they march. Yet every day Israel's enemies try to destroy it. not a replica. They are all Hezbollah.

com ) Feedback If a copyright notice has inadvertently been omitted. or if you wish to comment about the presentation.bahaipictures.com 53 .About the Author This presentation was devised and written by a former Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at a UK University. all copyright Marco Abrar ( www. Acknowledgements Photos of Baha‟i buildings and gardens in Haifa. please contact: scholar1108@googlemail.

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