Comedian Omid Djalali, my people, the Bahá’ís

Omid Djallil

Omid Djallil

Reported in The Guardian, 10th July 2011, Omid Djallili talks about his new project, attempting to find comedy in the persecutions of his fellow religionists.

“Back in the mid-90s in my show I’m A Short Fat Kebab Shop Owner’s Son, I touched on cultural clashes that shaped my personality as an Iranian immigrant in Britain. Authenticity is paramount for a comedian, and as I prepare to tour a new standup show I’m getting braver: this time, I will be exploring what it is like to be an Iranian born into a Bahá’í family.

The plight of the Bahá’í community in Iran has served as a backdrop to my life growing up in London, particularly since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Bahá’ís follow teachings that include the oneness of humanity and the unity of religion. This worldwide community – Bahá’ís of almost all backgrounds live in 188 countries – is striving to contribute to the betterment of the world through an educational process that seeks to raise capacities within populations to take charge of their spiritual, social and intellectual development, thus bringing positive change to their communities.

Iran, however, has not looked kindly on the Bahá’ís. There are currently about 300,000 Bahá’ís in Iran (the country’s largest religious minority) and the community has suffered brutal repression since its inception in 1844. After the revolution of 1979 this became a state-sanctioned campaign of persecution, and there have been hundreds of executions and arrests.

So as I’m writing my show, and pondering on whether there’s any comedy to be gained from all this, the only thread I’ve come up with is: “Iran clearly has control issues.” A memorandum from 1991 signed by the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, states that the Bahá’í community should be dealt with in such a way “that their progress and development are blocked”, and stipulates that Bahá’ís be denied livelihoods and university education.” 

 

See full article on Iran Watch

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