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later (“That was a lot of money be- fore the general devaluation of the Iranian currency,” quips Motlagh) Mr. Motlagh was returned to his family.


Things only got worse for


Motlagh and her family. In the months that followed, her family’s home was routinely invaded by Revolutionary Guards and other paramilitaries. Eventually her hus- band was rounded up with other prominent members of the Baha’i community in Hamadan. They were held in a local prison with- out formal charges awaiting trials that they knew would likely never be scheduled. Four months would pass before Motlagh was allowed any contact with her husband, and even then it was minimal at best. “It was Naw Ruz (Persian


New Year) and I heard the news on the local television station, that was my only notification,” says Motlagh. Her husband and six oth- er members of the local spiritual assembly of Baha’i in Hamadan were going to have a trial. They had sat in prison for nearly a year without any sort of hearing. The seven Baha’is – Mr.


Motlagh defiantly among them – were tried by a single Mullah. No evidence was presented and the charges put forward included es- pionage for Israel (the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Baha’i faith, is located in Haifa). The proceedings were short. Mr. Motlagh and his fellow Baha’is were asked to recant their faith in favor of Islam. None of


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the prisoners were willing to do so, explaining the concept of pro- gressive revelation as a tenet of their faith. They ceded that they could acknowledge Mohammad as a manifestation of God but they would not deny Bahá’u’lláh as the bearer of God’s message for this era.


On June 14, 1981 Motlagh


received the news that she had known would eventually come. Her husband had been executed. “My husband was martyred for the Baha’i faith,” she says solemnly. Mrs. Motlagh arrived at the hos- pital to identify her husband’s re- mains. “His body was at the local morgue and I ran there.” Motlagh was greeted at the


hospital by more than 2,000 Mus- lims and Baha’is alike. She took the chance to address the crowd after claiming the body of her husband. But instead of lamenting the injus- tice of her own loss, she took the opportunity to teach her country- men about the Baha’i faith. “I told the crowd about the faith. Every- one was praying.” Standing before a crowd of friends and strangers, Motlagh turned the darkest mo- ment of her life into an opportu- nity to build unity. “Over 1,000 years ago, Imam


Hussein was martyred,” Motlagh shouted to the crowd, referring to the famous Muslim cleric. “They have done the same to the Baha’is!” As her impromptu speech became more emotional, the crowd react- ed. “People started to cry,” she re- members.


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