100 Years of the Baha’i Faith in Australia – some personal reflections

What a year to have a centenary! The Baha’i Faith in Australia is celebrating the development of the Faith in the 100 years since it was first established here in 1920. Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that I am a Baha’i. I have been volunteering this year to help with the celebrations and reflections on this centenary. Like many other organisations, ‘flexibility’ and ‘creativity’ have been our key words this year as we have abandoned our plans, then resurrected some in a highly modified form as well as thinking of new ways to mark this centenary.

How the Baha’i Faith Started in Australia

Clara and Hyde Dunn standing in a park in Melbourne.
Clara and Hyde Dunn in Melbourne. Hyde Dunn was always immaculately dressed and invariably wore a bow tie. I like this photo as I think it also shows something about the personality of Clara Dunn.

If you have a look at the Australian Baha’i Centenary website, you can see how the Baha’i Faith started through the efforts of Clara and Hyde Dunn. They were not young nor were they well-off when they arrived in Australia from California on 10th April 1920, yet they had high hopes.

Continue reading

Islamic Museum of Australia

White building with large grey Arabic writing on it

My mother outside the Islamic Museum of Australia in Melbourne.

“I would like to visit the Islamic Museum,” said my mother when I visited her in Melbourne last year. My mother likes visiting art exhibitions, but she doesn’t visit many museums. Her request surprised me. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. Like many people she has been appalled at the anti-Muslim rhetoric which is too often heard nowadays. She has always been interested in other cultures. Why wouldn’t she as a Christian be interested in learning about Islam?

Things intervened but we finally visited the Islam Museum in time for its third anniversary. The building is a striking design which declares the Australian roots of the Museum and its place in our modern world. It is adorned with an Arabic excerpt from the Quran which translated reads:

So narrate to them the stories so that upon them they may reflect

And we certainly did a lot of reflecting inside. Continue reading

Enough! Australian Lawyers Call on Iran to Release Baha’i Seven

2 hands gripping vertical bars with 'Enough' written in red aboveOn Wednesday night I attended an annual human rights event which I hope I never have to attend again. It marked yet another year during which Iran’s authorities have trampled on the human rights of its own people.

The event in Sydney highlighted the unjust imprisonment of the seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community. Every year the anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of these five men and two women is marked by events around the world. Each additional year marks an increasing burden of injustice felt by the prisoners, their families and their communities. Each year the Iranian government brings more shame on themselves and besmirches Iran’s reputation world-wide.

The Baha’i seven have now been unjustly incarcerated for eight years. Those gathered at New South Wales Parliament House heard a message from Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Iran, including the seven Baha’i leaders. Concern about the persecution of Iran’s Baha’is has been expressed by both sides in Australia’s parliament over a number of years. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has also expressed concerns about the treatment of the seven Baha’i leaders, as have governments and human rights campaigners around the world.

Fariba Kamalabadi and Jamaloddin Khanjani

Continue reading

War, Emotions and Beliefs

Melbourne Museum sign

It is hard to get a good photo of the aircraft hangar like building that contains the Melbourne Museum. While the outside of the building may look uninspiring, the exhibitions inside of the building are well worth a visit.

Over the last few months I have been dealing with life, the universe and the mundane. I had so much on my plate that I regretfully decided to reduce the pressure by taking a pause on my blog. But I am back! Over the next few weeks I will share some of what I have been doing. Today I thought I would give you an update on my book project.

When I was in Melbourne for the birth of our first grandchild I took the opportunity to attend the War and Emotions Symposium at Melbourne Museum. Over the last year there have been many war conferences, books, exhibitions, television series and other events hoping to catch the interest of people during the centenary of World War I. I couldn’t possibly give attention to all, and frankly, too many are superficial or cross the line by glorifying war but I’m so pleased I had the chance to attend the War and Emotions Symposium. Continue reading

The Prison Poet is Heard

Book cover for Prison Poems

Mahvash Sabet, Adapted from the original Persian by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, Prison Poems, (George Ronald, 2013).

I write if only to stir faint memories of flight
in these wing-bound birds,
to open the cage of the heart for a moment
trapped without words.
For how can one not faint for these women,
beaten so brutally?
How can one not fear for them, suffering
such tyrannical cruelty.

Mahvash Sabet, ‘The Perfume of Poetry’, Prison Poems, p. 32

A woman sits in her prison cell in Iran, poetry flows from her pen. Of all Iran’s prisoners of conscience she and six fellow prisoners are serving the longest sentences of all. A member of a persecuted minority, the charges against them were patently false and their trial transgressed basic standards of legal procedure. The jail door has been slammed shut for a long time. Continue reading