First persecutions

Tahirih’s uncle railed from the pulpit against Shaykh Ahmad, the cleric who had foretold the coming of the Bab. One day while her uncle was at prayer, a follower of the esteemed Shaykh felt impelled to avenge the insult and stabbed him.

A mob forcibly brought Tahirih and her maid to the governor where she was interrogated. Tahirih’s maid was about to be tortured when news arrived that the killer had turned himself in.

Tahirih had played no role in this crime. She was put under house arrest in her father’s house. Her husband and cousins plotted to poison her so she did not eat the household food.

This shocking act gave the authorities the perfect pretext for wiping out the Babis. Tahirih’s husband, now the leading cleric of Qazvin, and his associates rounded up prominent Babis and ransacked their homes. Women were also attacked.

He had several of the leading Babis of Qazvin killed with great cruelty by mobs in the streets who were incited by clerics while government officials did nothing. These were the first public executions of the followers of the new faith in Persia and included the first Babi—one of Tahirih’s Arab followers—to be martyred on Persian soil.

The future persecutions of Babis and Baha’is in Persia followed the pattern in Qazvin—the clerics accused Babis and incited mob violence while the civil authorities allowed the bloodshed to take place to appease the powerful clergy.

Click below to see a segment from US news in the 1980s covering the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran.