Thursday, July 25, 2013

a little boy named Artin.

my mother told me a story today that i had heard nothing of before.  "something amazing happened in Iran last week," she said, "something history-making for the Baha'is and for Iran." 

here is the story. 
there is a little 4 year old Baha'i boy in Iran, Artin.  his grandfather, like many other Baha'is in Iran, was martyred over 20 years ago.  a little over a year ago, Artin's mom, dad, and his uncle were all imprisoned because they were teaching higher education classes to the young Baha'is in Iran. since they are denied access to education.  so Artin has been living with his grandmother, the wife of the man who was martyred many years ago, whose sons are now both in prison.  Artin's mom and dad are in two different prisons, and he can go visit only on Sundays.  so one Sunday he goes to see his mom, and one Sunday he goes to see his dad.  he is four.

a week and a half ago, Muhammad-i-NuriZad, a well known Muslim writer who has written many articles criticizing the clergy and the government of Iran on their policies and conduct, went to the home of Artin.  he put him on a little chair and kissed his feet, and then went on to apologize on behalf of all the people of Iran to him and to all the Baha'i's for the persecution that they have suffered, and apologized for the fact that his parents are in prison for no reason and that he is now living without them.  it was during Ramadan, but he couldn't fast that day, so he took some water and fruit from Artin's hands and said, "I want to tell my fellow believers that it's ok to eat out of the hands of the Baha'is" since they have been told not to, because of how dirty we are.  (this is all so much more beautiful in Farsi obviously because of the poetic nature of the language and the way in which NuriZad writes, obviously).

since this event, stories are coming in, one after the other, about what this man did. blogs, and news stories, and comments supporting him and condemning him. a lot of the people of Iran are outraged.  to me, his bravery is so incredibly humbling. the iranian government is obviously upset.  they have asked him to come to court to be tried.  he said that his bags are packed and that he is ready for whatever comes.  "I knew the repercussions of this." he said.

i hear this story and my heart aches.  first for Artin, and then for the many many others like him, including my own cousins, who have had to live without family members because they believe in a faith that proclaims peace, unity, and the coming together of humanity.  

and i also feel utmost gratitude for this man who has risked everything in order to speak out against injustice and speak UP for freedom and for the humanity that binds us all together, whether we like it or not. his voice, rings so much louder than mine would in this situation since i, myself am a Baha'i.  the power of speaking up for the oppressed and what influence that can have.  this image will forever be in my heart:

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