A host of Britain's top comedians have called for the Iranian government to respect human rights after seven leaders of the Bahá'í faith who have been imprisoned for more than eight months.
In a letter published in today's Times, the comedians – including David Baddiel, Bill Bailey, Rob Brydon, Jimmy Carr, Jack Dee, Omid Djalili, Russell Brand and Sean Lock– are concerned for the safety of the seven Bahá'í leaders.
‘No formal evidence has been brought against them,’ says the letter, ‘They have not been given access to their legal counsel.’
Charges that are likely to be filed against the Bahá'ís in the Revolutionary Court include ‘espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and propaganda against the Islamic republic’.
‘In reality, their only "crime", which the current regime finds intolerable, is that they hold a religious belief that is different from the majority,’ says the letter.
The Bahá’í faith, which Djalili follows, began in Iran the mid-19th century but all the 300,000 adherents still living in the country have been targeted by the Islamic regime as their views contradict Muslim teaching.
The comedians wrote: ‘As artists who strive to uplift the human spirit and enrich society through our work, we register our solidarity with all those in Iran who are being persecuted for promoting the best development of society.
‘Further, we join with the governments, human rights organizations and people of goodwill throughout the world who have so far raised their voices calling for a fair trial, if not the complete release of the Bahá'í leaders in Iran.’
The letter has been signed by David Baddiel, Bill Bailey, Morwenna Banks, Sanjeev Bhasker, Jo Brand, Russell Brand, Rob Brydon, Jimmy Carr, Jack Dee, Omid Djalili, Sean Lock, Lee Mack, Alexei Sayle, Meera Syal and Mark Thomas.