Motocross champion Shahrzad Nazifi arrested in Iran for being a Baha’i

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Shahrzad Nazifi, a motocross champion, was arrested on Sunday, November 18, 2018, by security forces in Tehran and taken to Evin Prison.

Security agents searched her house for five hours, taking books, her cellphone, her laptop, and personal items. Her “crime” appears to be her Baha’i faith.

Shahrzad Nazifi is a motocross coach of the Baha’i faith and one of the motocross champions in the motocross field in Iran.
Alongside her husband Mehrshad Naraghi, Nazifi and her daughter Noora Naraghi are motocross champions, pioneering the sport for women in the country.

The Baha’i International Community (BIC) says Baha’is in Iran are facing a new wave of arrests and raids on their homes across different cities in the country.
More than 20 Baha’is have been arrested in various cities in the provinces of Tehran, Isfahan, Mazandaran, and East Azerbaijan in the last two weeks alone. Over 90 Baha’is currently remain imprisoned in Iran, according to BIC.

The community said in a November 23 statement that up to a dozen Baha’is have in recent days received discriminatory and harsh court verdicts across the country.

Nine Baha’is in Isfahan were falsely charged with “membership in the unlawful administration of the perverse Baha’i sect for the purpose of action against internal security” as well as “engaging in propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic” based on various absurd pretexts, including praying with others. The nine Bahá’ís were served a combined sentence of over 40 years of imprisonment.

Over a dozen Baha’i-run businesses were shut down by the authorities in Khoramshahr, Ahvaz and Abadan in Khuzestan province this month in connection with the owners closing their shops temporarily to mark two major Baha’i holy days.

In some instances, shopkeepers notified the authorities in advance that they would be closing their shops for the holy days. The authorities consequently sealed their shops before the holy days took place. In other cases, after their shops were sealed, the business owners sought to rectify the injustice by approaching the appropriate authorities. Instead of unsealing their shops, they were presented with a court summons on the basis that they had closed their businesses to celebrate their holy days—despite the fact that Iranian labour laws state that shop owners may lawfully close their businesses for 15 days in a year without providing reasons for doing so.

Members of the religious group, deemed a “deviant sect” by authorities, have long been detained and harassed in Iran. Their property has been seized. They have been denied jobs and higher education, and their businesses have been closed. Officials refuse to register the marriages of Baha’i couples.

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