Why are burial rights being denied to a Baha'i in Iran?

What should have been a period of mourning for most people has turned into a political and religious scandal in Iran. A man named Shamel Bina, a Baha’i, died in late October, but has been denied burial rights in Iran for two months, leaving his family in mourning and without the ability to put their loved one to rest. This complicated religious and political move is garnering attention around the globe, as Bina’s family simply wants to bury their relative.


The Baha’i are a group of individuals that conform to a monotheistic faith that emphasizes the unity of humanity. They have fallen under severe persecution in nations like Iran because the faith does not conform to the national faith of Islam. The Baha’i have had many different run-ins with the Iranian government, with this as only the latest disrespect levied against the faith. With Shamel Bina’s body lying in the morgue for the foreseeable future, there are many people who are discouraged that there will be any allowances made for his burial rites in this case.


As most people are aware, the official religion of Iran is Islam. While they have strict laws that oversee this religion, they are considered by many to be blind to the plight of other religions. The Baha’i are one of these groups, and while there is some evidence to support that Iran is purposely seeing to their disadvantage, it definitely seems as though they are not doing anything to ease their burdens.

In fact, there are several cases that are similar to Bina’s, where the government is inflicting hardships on this particular group. For the most part, they are attempting to make the Baha’i conform to the burial rites of Islam. Many people have been refused burial in Iran until their family is willing to do so without a casket. In some cases, they are simply not allowed to be buried in specific towns across the nation.


This latest blow to the Baha’i faith has prompted a variety of people to plead with the government to ease the legal restrictions that prevent them from burying their dead relatives. Old and young have come together to ask for the increasingly institutionalized discrimination to end. Even still, Shamel Bina’s body goes unburied while the state still denies him the burial rites that his religion sees as necessary, with no word from the government as to whether this situation can be ameliorated.