Pahlavi's Ashes to Be Scattered in Caspian; Dozens of Christians Arrested
06 Jan 2011 16:26
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Iran Shah Son's Remains to be Scattered in Caspian Sea
Reuters | Jan 5
Prince Alireza Pahlavi, the younger son of the late Shah of Iran, will be cremated and his remains released into the Caspian Sea, his brother said on Wednesday.
Prince Reza Pahlavi, the Shah's older son, said there was a worldwide outpouring of support for his family's loss.
"We mourn today the succumbing of our beloved Alireza to the weight, pain and daily burdens of this grave illness, and because of its robbing the promise of yet another life, unfulfilled," he said, pausing to regain his composure.
Pahlavi said he last spoke with his brother less than two weeks ago but texted him frequently. He indicated his brother had left a suicide note but did not elaborate.
A memorial service is being planned, likely for the Washington, D.C., area, where Reza Pahlavi lives.
Son of Ex-Iranian Shah Says Brother Had Depression
AP (via Washington Post) | Jan 5
The oldest son of the former shah of Iran spoke of the "tragic consequences" of depression Wednesday as he reacted to the suicide of his younger brother.
"My family has had its share of dealing with this debilitating illness, but we also realize it is not a tragedy isolated to us; we share this with the millions around the world, particularly those in our homeland, Iran, suffering from the same," Reza Pahlavi told reporters in Boston.
"We mourn today, the succumbing of our beloved Alireza to the weight, pain and daily burdens of this grave illness, and because of its robbing the promise of yet another life, unfulfilled," he said, then paused and put his hand over his mouth to hold back tears.
Reza Pahlavi said he did not want to discuss politics Wednesday because of his brother's death. When asked about his role in Iran's opposition movement, he said, "My commitment to my country remains the same and I shall do whatever I can to help the cause of freedom and democracy in our homeland."
Royal Suicide Reminds Many of Pahlavi Era and Errors
Los Angeles Times | Jan 5
News of the suicide broke late Tuesday night after most of Iranian newspapers were put to bed. But the tone of the state-sanctioned media reports on Wednesday appeared to be one of subdued glee. Tabnak, a news website considered close to former Revolutionary Guard commander and presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai, ran the story under the headline "Another Pahlavi Commits Suicide" next to a graphic featuring the silhouette of a man holding a gun to his head.
Alef, a news site owned by conservative lawmaker Ahmad Tavakkoli, ran the story under the headline "Serial Suicides Continue in Pahlavi's Family" along with the picture of the Boston townhouse where he resided.
Outlets close to the Iranian opposition have been mute on Alireza's death, perhaps feeling vulnerable to accusations of royalist nostalgia.
Though the shah is remembered fondly by mostly wealthy Iranian monarchists living abroad in Paris, London and Los Angeles, he also is remembered by some as a brutal autocrat who maintained his grip on the "Peacock Throne" by cracking down violently on popular opposition to his rule with the backing of American intelligence services.
Iran Reacts to Suicide of the Shah's Son
Time | Jan 5
Abbas Milani, director of Iranian studies at Stanford University and the author of a new book on the Shah, noted a family record of depressive behavior. "Sadly," Milani wrote in an e-mail, "the Shah did have a propensity for depression. In nearly every major profile of him prepared by the CIA, or British and American embassies, there is some allusion to this brooding, melancholy tendency. One report calls him 'Hamlet-like.' The other side of this tendency was the Shah's love of speed, fast cars, and flying. The sad young man [who] killed himself apparently shared both qualities."
In Iran, where people's attitudes toward the former royals ranges from housewife nostalgia for an era of grandeur to enduring hatred for the Shah's despotism, the news spread quickly on social-networking sites and fueled acrimonious debate about Iran's political future. Some critics of the former monarchy accused the Pahlavi family of exploiting Alireza's death to burnish its image by painting him as a hero-martyr who died for Iran's cause.
Other Iranians online sought to put the Pahlavi legacy in a more modern perspective, arguing that although the family members lived in luxury, they at least sought to serve Iran, whereas the mullah-princes of Iran's clerical elite make no pretense of building the nation. For many young Iranians who are straining under double-digit inflation and social repression, the notion that a gilded and privileged son of royalty would take his own life came as its own shock.
Suicide of Iran Shah's Son, Alireza Pahlavi, Caps Life of Sorrow in Exile
Christian Science Monitor | Jan 5
Alireza Pahlavi was just 13 years old when his father was forced to flee Iran, and had ever since been affected by those events, said Mahnaz Afkhami, the shah's former minister for women's affairs, in an interview with BBC World Service radio.
"I can only imagine [the trauma felt by] someone who had lived at a level of near adoration by those around him, and seen the grandeur with which his father was treated," said Ms. Afkhami, who now also lives in exile in the US.
"And then to suddenly, really quite suddenly, be dislocated, separated from his parents and also when he was with them to witness his father, whom all heads of state almost universally had courted and admired and flattered, was suddenly a pariah, there was no place for him," added Afkhami.
"It's not a matter of luxury, it's a matter of loss of identity, loss of connections ... and all the time seeing something really unusual and strange, which was the religious theocracy unfolding inside the country," said Afkhami.
Iran Arrests Christians, Says They're Hard-liners
AP (via Washington Post) | Jan 5
Iranian state television said Wednesday that leaders of the country's Christian minority have been arrested and accused of spreading a hard-line version of their faith.
The report did not give the number of people arrested. The group was promoting hard-line Christian views at cultural gatherings with the support of Britain, the TV reported, quoting Tehran Governor Morteza Tamadon.
A website of Iran's political opposition reported that 60 Christians have been arrested since Christmas, including a priest taken into custody on Friday.
The Sahamnews.org website said the priest, Leonard Keshishian, was summoned by security authorities in the central city of Isfahan and arrested.
Iran Arrests Christian Missionaries: Official
AFP | Jan 4
Morteza Tamaddon said "the leaders of this movement have been arrested in Tehran province and more will be arrested in the near future."
He referred to them as "tabshiri," or missionaries, and likened them to the Taliban.
"Just like the Taliban...who have inserted themselves into Islam like a parasite, they have crafted a movement with Britain's backing in the name of Christianity," Tamaddon said.
"But their conspiracy was unveiled quickly and the first blows were delivered to them," he added, without saying what they were allegedly conspiring to do.
"Various kinds of fake, deviated and corrupt cults have sharpened their teeth for our beliefs and one can see their activities among the youth," he said, branding Christian missionaries as an example of "cultural onslaught" against Iran.
See also "Former Muslims Reach Out"
Dutch Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death in Iran
Radio Netherlands Worldwide | Jan 5
Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami has been found guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced to death by a court in Tehran.
Her daughter, Banafsheh Najebpour, speaking to Radio Netherlands Worldwide from Iran, confirmed the news. She said the court delivered its ruling on Sunday but the defence lawyer had not been allowed to break the news earlier. Banafshef Najebpour is shocked by the news. "I am devastated. What has my mother done wrong for heaven's sake? I just don't understand it. The lawyer wouldn't even talk to me about it."
Ms Bahrami was born in Iran but moved to the Netherlands, becoming a Dutch citizen. She returned to Iran in December 2009 to visit relatives. She is reported to have been arrested after taking part in anti-government demonstrations.
Ms Bahrami has allegedly been kept in isolation for months and beaten regularly. Her case got publicity when it was announced on a human rights website run by Iranians. The Dutch authorities only found out who had been arrested six months afterwards.
The ministry of Foreign Affairs repeatedly called on the authorities in Tehran to give her a fair trial. The embassy tried to provide consular assistance, but Iran refused to recognise her dual nationality.
Sahra Bahrami Death Sentence Queried by Dutch
BBC News | Jan 5
The Dutch government is seeking "clarification" of reports that a Dutch-Iranian woman has been sentenced to death in Tehran.
"I am extremely concerned about the situation with Sahra Bahrami," Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said in a statement.
"We insist on information, the possibility to provide her with consular assistance, and a fair course of justice."
Anti-U.S. Cleric Returns to Iraq, and to Power
New York Times | Jan 5
Moktada al-Sadr, the populist cleric who emerged as the United States' most enduring foe in Iraq, returned Wednesday after more than three years of voluntary exile in Iran in a homecoming that embodied his and his movement's transition from battling in the streets to occupying the halls of power.
"Long live the leader!" supporters shouted as a grayer Mr. Sadr made his way from the airport in the holy city of Najaf to his home and then to prayers at the gold-domed Shrine of Imam Ali, one of the most sacred places in Shiite Islam. Supporters there hailed his return as another show of strength for a movement that is now more powerful than at any time since the United States invaded in 2003.
There were conflicting reports [...] about whether Mr. Sadr's return was permanent or merely a visit. Even some of his own supporters seemed unsure.
"It's up to His Eminence to stay permanently in Najaf or go back to Iran," said Balqis al-Khafaji, who was a Sadrist candidate
WikiLeaks: Pressure within Iran Blocked Nuclear Deal
Voice of America | Jan 4
A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable reveals that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted a nuclear fuel swap agreement more than a year ago but was pressured internally from politicians who viewed it as a "virtual defeat."
The cable made available Tuesday on the WikiLeaks website describes a meeting in 2009 between a top U.S. envoy [Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon] and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The Turkish foreign minister said Iran's government was willing to work out a fuel swap arrangement, but that Ahmadinejad needed to manage public perception because he was facing "huge pressure" at home.
Davutoglu also suggested that Iran trusted the United States to deliver nuclear fuel more than it trusted Russia, which helped build Iran's nuclear power plant.
US Memo: Iranian Hard-liners Blocked Nuke Deal
AP | Jan 4
Davutoglu was quoted as saying that the propos[ed] deal was "interpreted by some circles in Iran as a virtual defeat" by Western pressures.
The cable said Turkish officials had asked Ahmadinejad "if the core of the issue is psychological rather than substance."
"Ahmadinejad had said 'yes,' that the Iranians agree to the proposal but need to manage the public perception," the message said, adding that Turkish officials consider Ahmadinejad as "more flexible than others who are inside the Iranian government."
It also noted that it appears the Iranians have "more trust" in the U.S. envoys than British negotiators and "the Iranians would also prefer to get fuel from the U.S. rather than the Russians."
EU to Iran: UN Inspectors Should Visit Nuclear Sites
Voice of America | Jan 5
The European Union says it is up to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit Iran's nuclear sites.
An EU spokesman said Wednesday the bloc has not responded to Iran's invitation to have select foreign diplomats tour its nuclear facilities.
Tehran has suggested the visit take place on January 15 and 16, ahead of talks on Iran's nuclear program in Istanbul later this month. The invitation excluded key world powers who will attend the meeting, including the United States, France, Britain and Germany.
The gathering will include representatives from Iran and the P5+1, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
Diplomats say Iran only invited two of the P5+1 members -- Russia and China. They say Tehran also invited Egypt, Turkey, Brazil, Cuba and Hungary, which currently holds the EU presidency.
EU, China, Russia Urged Not to Visit Iran -- Envoys
Reuters | Jan 5
Several Western diplomats in New York, among them European officials, said on condition of anonymity that Moscow and Beijing were being actively discouraged from attending since it could undermine the united front of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany on Iran's nuclear issue.
"We would be disappointed if Russia, or China or the European Union were to go," said a senior Western diplomat in New York.
"Some may want to go," the diplomat added. "We certainly would not be encouraging people to go. Indeed we would be discouraging people from going."
Britain said "a tightly controlled visit of selected facilities is unlikely to provide the assurances needed by the international community" about Iran's nuclear plans.
Iran Wants Rupee for Oil but RBI Plays Spoilsport
Times of India | Jan 6
Iran is willing to accept payments in rupee for the $12-billion worth of crude it sells to India but the RBI [Reserve Bank of India] is opposing the idea. This comes at a time when state-run refiners face the risk of running low on their stock of oil next month if a solution to the currency imbroglio is not found quickly.
Government sources on Wednesday said officials of Iran's central bank expressed their vote of confidence in the rupee during their meeting with RBI executives. The Iranians said they were ready to operate through an SBI [State Bank of India] branch in Mumbai where state oil firms can make rupee payments.
But sources said RBI is against this arrangement on the ground of high trade imbalance between the two countries. Iran imports goods from India worth only $1 billion against the huge amount New Delhi pays for its oil. Though UN sanctions do not forbid oil imports, the RBI last month settled the payment via a euro-denominated clearing system.
Iran Ships Held in Singapore Released
Press TV | Jan 5
Iranian Commerce Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari says three Iranian vessels impounded in Singapore due to "financial problems" have been freed.
"Iranian ships, which were seized in Singapore because of the financial problems caused by the Westerners were released minutes ago," Fars news agency quoted Ghazanfari as saying on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Chairman of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) Mohammad Dajmar said three Iranian vessels, named Tochal, Sahand and Sabalan, were put up for auction in Singapore by an order from the French bank Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in December 2010.
The vessels were released after their 200 million dollars loan from the French bank was paid off, he added.
"The USD 200 million was the remainder of a loan received from a French bank, but they claim that since these ships did not have creditable insurance, the status of the loan was changed to an overdue debt," Dajmar said, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Seized Iranian Ships Freed in Singapore
Fars | Jan 5
The vessels [...] were listed as being under "sheriff's sale" on the Singapore high court's website.
Sheriff's sales are public auctions carried out on goods and property seized from owners who default on debts.
Iranian officials rejected that the seizure was because of debt, adding that the French bank have changed it from a loan to payment because of the UN sanctions.
Iran stated that the move to impound the ships was violation of international laws since the loan contract was signed before the sanctions.
Editor in Chief of Aina-News Sentenced in Oroumiyeh
RAHANA | Jan 5
The first branch of the Oroumiyeh appeals court (Press Court), has convicted the Editor in Chief of Aina-News.
Hamed Ataei, the Editor in Chief of Ayna-news, has been convicted by the jury vote for "publishing lies", following the complaint made by the head of the Charity Affairs Department of Western Azerbaijan.
He has been sentenced to 4 months in prison based on Article 30 of the Press Law and articles 47, 48 and 698 of the Islamic Penal Code.
Three Years in Prison, Three Years in Exile, and a Three Year Ban on Speeches for Religious Scholar
ICHRI | Jan 4
Ahmad Ghabel, a theological researcher and government critic, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran after being released on $50,000 bail by Branch 5 of Mashad's Revolutionary Courts. "I do not have any new charges. It was claimed that there are new charges, but when I reviewed them, I realized that they were the same old charges. During my trial sessions, also, only the original seven charges raised against me were reviewed, and I was acquitted of two of them. I have not seen my ruling yet, but my wife has told me about them. The other two charges which led to the sentencing are 'propagating against the regime,' the punishment for which is defined by the law as one year in prison, and the other is 'actions against national security,' which has three years in prison [as punishment]. This means that the maximum punishment stipulated for this in the law has been determined for me. Three years in prison and three years' exile to my city of residence, and three years' ban on speaking to groups larger than three people; this is what the lower court has issued and it's not clear what may happen in the appeals court, or whether there would be any changes or not," said Ghabel.
"Of the 36 months to which I was sentenced, 16 months have been converted to a cash fine of $4,000. Other than this, I also had a non-political charge which was related to my having satellite [TV] equipment in my home, for which I was further fined $100. In fact I should have stayed in prison for 20 months, but they decided to release me on bail until the appeals court issued its ruling," added Ghabel.
"One [of my charges] was the matter of propagating falsehoods in my writings and speeches, which was proven to be unfounded, and I was acquitted from this charge. The other one was insulting Ayatollah Khamenei, for which there was no evidence against me in the case, except for the Najaf Abad Intelligence Office's doctoring of the text of my speech. But when the original text [of my speech] was given to the court, the judge realized that I had not insulted [the Leader] at all, and I was acquitted from this charge, as well," said Ghabel.
40% Rise in Tourist Arrivals
Iran Daily | Jan 5
Tourist arrivals have increased by 40 percent in the first 9 months of the current Iranian year (starting March 21).
Announcing this, Alireza Ameri, the deputy head of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization for tourism affairs, said 2,364,204 tourists entered the country in the first 9 months of this year, IRNA reported.
"About 1,698,727 tourists visited the country in the corresponding period of last year," he said.
Ameri noted that while Iran's tourism industry is experiencing a huge growth, the global tourism industry is facing a severe decline.
"According to the latest figures released by global entities, tourism in Europe has declined by 7 percent in the current year," he said, adding that Middle East tourism is also down by 5 percent.
IRIB Bans Smoking Scenes in Iranian Productions
Mehr | Jan 5
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) deputy director Ali Darabi said that scenes featuring smoking in Iranian productions have been banned.
The bylaw banning the scenes featuring smoking was recently served to the managing directors of all the TV channels
Darabi stressed the need to produce films and TV series emphasizing the bad health effects and drawbacks of smoking.
OUP Apologises for Using False Name for Persian Gulf
IRNA | Jan 5
The largest university press in the world has apologised for inappropriately using a false name for the Persian Gulf in an English language teaching book.
The Oxford University Press said its editorial board agreed that reference to the so-called Arabian Gulf, instead of the correct name Persian Gulf, needed to be removed from its Bright Star Pupil's Book 4 and that it will ensure any reference is deleted in future prints.
"On behalf of Oxford University Press, I would like to apologise for the inaccuracy in this usage," Group Communications Director Anna Baldwin said.
She said that OUP's in-house editorial guidelines on appropriate nomenclature were already correct about the accuracy of Persian Gulf, but that she "ensure the guidelines are re-circulated to avoid such an error re-occurring."
OPINION & ANALYSIS
Tragic Twilight of a Dynasty
For those of us who were born and raised in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi monarchy, the births of the members of our then-royal family punctuated our lives.
I still remember vividly the day that Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi was born on October 31, 1960.
For every one of his birthdays afterward we were required to sing and dance and parade in our city's major soccer stadium. The subsequent births of the three other children of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1919-1980) were not as much of a national event, for the nation was now assured who would be next in line. Though of course none of that was meant to be.
The death by apparent suicide of the second son and third child of the late shah of Iran, Prince Alireza Pahlavi, on Tuesday in Boston is an equally remarkable though much sadder occasion. When in the late 1980s I joined the faculty at Columbia University, where the young prince was a student, I had more than one occasion to meet him and the rest of the recently exiled royal family. I remember him as an exceedingly polite, charming and serious young student, though a bit reserved and reticent. By and large, he seemed to mingle with other students naturally and unassumingly.
Leading Conservatives Openly Support a Terrorist Group
Glenn Greenwald (Salon) | Jan 3
Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with -- and expressed vocal support for -- supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein's brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a "Terrorist organization" by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.
But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives -- including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend -- did exactly that. In Paris, of all places, they appeared at a forum organized by supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) -- a group declared by the U.S. since 1997 to be "terrorist organization" -- and expressed wholesale support for that group. Worse -- on foreign soil -- they vehemently criticized their own country's opposition to these Terrorists and specifically "demanded that Obama instead take the  group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations and incorporate it into efforts to overturn the mullah-led government in Tehran." In other words, they are calling on the U.S. to embrace this Saddam-supported, U.S.-hating Terrorist group and recruit them to help overthrow the government of Iran. To a foreign audience, Mukasey denounced his own country's opposition to these Terrorists as "nothing less than an embarrassment."
Using common definitions, there is good reason for the MEK to be deemed by the U.S. Government to be a Terrorist group. In 2007, the Bush administration declared that "MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond," and added that the group exhibits "cult-like characteristics." The Council on Foreign Relations has detailed that the MEK has been involved in numerous violent actions over the years, including many directed at Americans, such as "the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries" and "the killings of U.S.military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran in the 1970s." This is whom Guiliani, Ridge, Townsend and other conservatives are cheering.
DOCUMENTS & DECLARATIONS
Pressure Intensified on Baha'i Citizens
In continuing the trend of increased persecution on Baha'is in Mazandaran, Mahin Taj Rouhani who is a Baha'i citizen in Sari city, was arrested on Saturday, January 1st.
This arrest was done after searching her house completely by security officials in Sari city.
She had previously been summoned by a phone call to the Ministry of Intelligence on December 19th. She had been summoned under the pretext of answering some questions at the Ministry of Intelligence for not having the documents of her mobile SIM card. She failed to show up since the authorities' claim was false and the summons order had been unofficial and had been communicated to her orally. She was threatened along with her husband after she failed to show up.
On December 25, 2010, Seven of the Sari city Intelligence agents stormed to her house. They had a search warrant and proceeded to search her home and also confiscated some equipments such as books and pictures related to Baha'i faith, computer case, satellite dish and receiver, cassette tapes, and family CDs.
The officers also forced her to promise that she will appear at the Ministry of intelligence on December 29th.
Baha'i Citizen Artin Ghazanfari Began Serving Sentence
One year has passed since his initial arrest. Ghazanfari who had been transferred to the Evin Prison along with nine more Baha'i citizens on January 3, 2010, has to serve his prison sentence. Although he had to begin serving his sentence on January 3rd, he was able to postpone it for one month since he is under treatment for acute pulmonary disease. He caught the disease during his confinement in Evin and Rajaei Shahr Prisons.
After the events of Ashura last year, Artin Ghazanfari was arrested by the security forces in Tehran and his house was searched. His wife, Jinous Sobhani was arrested along with him. His family was concerned about his condition since he was held incommunicado. He was not even allowed to be with his family during the Iranian New Year. After three months In Evin and Rajaei Shahr prisons, he was released for a week on April 3, 2010. Once more, he was confined in Evin until April 18th and was finally released on a $50,000 bail. His trial was held in April and he was sentenced to one year of imprisonment.
His lung disease which has not cured since last year is maily due to difficult and unsanitary conditions of Evin and Rajaei Shahr Prisons.
Detention of Baha'i citizen Masrour Fazli
Masrour Fazli, a Baha'i living in Urmia, has been arrested on the thirty-first of December 2010.
Moreover, Shiva Karimi, Homeira Parvizi and Navid Morghi three Baha'i living in Urmia had been arrested after security forces raided, searched and confiscated some their personal belongings.
In recent weeks, pressure on the Baha'is in different cities of country has intensified. Since the beginning of January, Mahin Taj Rowhani, Roya Ghanbari in Sary city and Adib Hagh Pejou in Shiraz were arrested by security forces after their houses were searched. Shole Taef, a Baha'i living in Semnan was summoned for serving her one year prison sentence term.
Anisa Safaryan, a Baha'i expelled student of Elmo San'at University of Babolsar city, was also arrested when her house was searched and some of her personal belongings were confiscated by the security forces and so far she has been able to call her family only once.
Fouad Khanjani was sentenced to four years of imprisonment
Fouad Khanjani was arrested on the 27th of April, 2010 after being summoned to the office of Ministry of Intelligence. He had already been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence on the second of March, 2010. He had also received similar orders twice.
He had already been expelled from Industrial Management of Esfahan due to his belief in the Baha'i faith.
Fouad Khanjani is the son of Ala'adin Khanjani who had previously been arrested, the brother of Lava Khanjani(Mobasher) who has been sentenced to two years of imprisonment and the grandson of Jamaloddin Khanjani, one of the seven former leaders of the Baha'i community.