Oppressed religious minorities in Iran and other parts of the world

[Speaking in the Seanad during Order of Business]

I propose to refer in passing to an extraordinary coincidence yesterday in respect of two sets of visitors to the House. The first visitors were representatives of the Amahdi branch of Islam, a widely persecuted and admired near pacifist movement within the Islamic community whose members suffer terrible persecution in many parts of the world because of the perception that they depart somewhat from what some would regard as the orthodoxy of that peaceful religion. They were followed by representatives of the Iranian Parliament who visited the House as part of the Iran-Ireland parliamentary friendship group. I hope the visit provided an opportunity to raise the issue of the systematic persecution of people for their religious beliefs in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I refer, in particular, to the Baha’i minority whose persecution extends to not being allowed to practise their faith and being regarded not as a religious but as a political movement which has resulted in the judicial deaths of several hundred of them. I ask that Senators be given an opportunity, during the time remaining to us, to invite representatives of oppressed religious minorities in different parts of the world, be they members of the Baha’i faith, Amahdi Muslims or Coptic Christians in Egypt, to give us a flavour of how this problem is panning out.

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