This news update is about a Yemeni man who practices the Baha’i faith and how he was sent to prison and recently sentenced to death because of his religious views. If you are wondering, “What is Baha’i?” like I was, then there is more information on this faith after the news articles.

From the Baha’i World News Service:

Yemeni Baha’i Hamed bin Haydara was imprisoned four years ago and was recently sentenced to public execution by the Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a on January 2nd. The judge also called for all Baha’i institutions to be dissolved.

“Numerous reports clearly point to the insidious involvement of the Iranian authorities in Yemen’s persecution of the Baha’i community,” said Bani Dugal, Representative of the Baha’i International Community United Nations Office in New York.

This ruling is unprecedented in the persecution of the Baha’is in Yemen and mirrors acts of injustice faced by the Baha’i community in Iran.

Mr. Haydara was arbitrarily arrested at his workplace on 3 December 2013 and has been in prison since. His case has been notable for its complete lack of due process.

The Yemeni Baha’i community has been increasingly persecuted by the authorities in Sana’a in recent years. Currently, six other Baha’is are in prison in Sana’a and have been denied basic human rights.

From Iran Press Watch:

Several of Mr. Haydara’s trials, including this most recent one which sentenced him to death, occurred without him being present and his lawyer not given all the evidence to contest.

The UN human rights experts said they were disappointed that the Yemeni Government and the de facto authorities had failed to respond to their concerns about the recurring harassment, arbitrary arrests and detention of the Bahá’ís since 2014.

UN human rights experts are calling for the sentence to be annulled and for an end to the persecution of the Baha’i community in Yemen.

From The National:

The faith, which originated in Iran in the 19th century and spread across the world, believes in core principles such as universal peace and acceptance of all religions as manifestations of one God.

Last Tuesday, the Houthis’ criminal court in Sanaa sentenced a prominent leader of the faith, Hamid Haydara, to death after four years in prison.

According to the spokesperson of the Baha’i in Sanaa, Abdullah Al Olify, the group leaders who have been arrested are being tortured into admitting they work for foreign entities.

52-year-old Mr Haydara was accused of collaborating with foreign entities and forging documents, but the trial discounted evidence that the prisoner was tortured while in Houthi custody since December 2013.

In this 9 minute video from CBS News: “What They Believe” on the Baha’i Faith, you can learn about the Baha’i faith, its history, houses of worship, and what followers believe. (Video link at the end of this post.)

The Baha’i faith is one of the world’s youngest religions. Followers believe in the word of a prophet called Baha’u’llah. Born in 1817 in Persia, now Iran, he declared that all the world’s religions come from the same God and have the same purpose to unite humanity. Baha’u’llah is believed to be the latest in a series of divine messengers following in the footsteps of Abraham, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed (among others). Baha’u’llah’s revelations resulted in a lifetime of persecution imprisonment by Persian and Ottoman authorities. Despite internment, his teachings continued to spread and attract followers.

There are seven Baha’i houses of worship around the world. Each bears its own unique design. Today there are 5 million Baha’is in the world and their numbers continue to grow. Worship primarily takes place in the home and there are no clergy or set rituals.

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House of Worship in Willmette, Illinois: “The entire skin of the building is perforated so that light could come in from the outside or in the evening come from inside-out to show the translucent nature of this community, this idea of openness, of unity. The pylons that have arrows and then along the arrows are different religious symbols and they’re all kind of tied together… the Christian cross, the Muslim crescent moon, the Star of David, the lotus flower…. and they’re all put in an order so the ideas, they’re all connected, but we’re ever ascending.”
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The Bahai House of Worship in New Delhi, India, popularly known as the Lotus Temple was designed by Fariborz Sahba and made of Greek white marble.It is open to all regardless of religion.

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The Terraces of the Bahá’í Faith, or Hanging Gardens of Haifa.In the foreground, the Baha’i Eagle.In the center, the golden-domed Shrine of the Bàb (Ali Muhammad Shirazi), the Prophet of the Bahá’i Faith. The terraces represent the first 18 disciples of the Báb. 9 concentric circles provide the main geometry of the 18 terraces, which are conceived as generated from the Shrine of the Báb. The 18 terraces plus the one terrace of the Shrine make 19 terraces, a significant number within both the Bahá’í and Bábí religions. Architect, Fariborz Sahba from Iran.

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View of the Baha’i House of Worship in Santiago on October 13, 2016. The temple belonging to the Baha’i faith, an independent religion that originated over 150 years ago in Iran and has a temple in each continental area. The Baha’i House of Worship in South America opens its doors on October 19, 2016. / AFP / MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)