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Is Qatar trying to eradicate the Baha’i community?

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In a communication to The European Times, the Baha’i International Community(BIC) informed of being “extremely worried by developments in Qatar—where the government is apparently attempting to eradicate the Baha’i community

The Baha’is have often and regularly voiced out their extreme concerns for the “discrimination, restrictions and human rights violations experienced by the Baha’is in Qatar over many decades”.

These violations, continue to say the BIC, include systematic attempts by Qatari authorities to blacklist and deport Baha’is from Qatar. Once blacklisted, Baha’is who have for decades been residents in Qatar are expelled from the country and are permanently refused reentry, even to visit. Residency permits of non-Qatari Baha’is have also been denied, or not renewed, despite their employers or sponsors supporting them to remain in the country.

What links all those who have been deported—who come from various professional and national backgrounds—has been their Baha’i belief. This bears a striking resemblance to types of persecution Baha’is have faced in Iran and Yemen.

Most of those facing blacklisting and deportation, say the BIC, were born and raised in Qatar and have known no other home, some coming from families whose lives there stretch back multiple generations, predating the independence of the state of Qatar itself.

Other reported incidents of discrimination relate to employment or education. In 2009, the Bahá’í cemetery in Doha was bulldozed and graves were exhumed and destroyed.

“We are deeply concerned that the ongoing and worsening discrimination against Baha’is in Qatar may lead to the eradication of the entire community” said to The European Times Rachel Bayani, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the European Institutions.

A Qatar citizen and a Baha’i, Remy Rowhani, is to be jailed in Qatar on charges linked to his religious beliefs. A previous hearing had been held in his absence and his sentence was first issued on 29 April 2021. No evidence was presented at any time to substantiate the charges against Mr Rowhani, says the press statement of the Baha’is in Brussels.

To secretly hold a trial in the defendant’s absence, without notifying him, and to then issue a prison sentence and fine in absentia, is against due process and betrays an official policy of discrimination against the Baha’is. This is a worrying escalation of the targeted and discriminatory treatment against Baha’is in Qatar.” added Ms. Bayani.

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