Issue 1 - Palestinian Leader denies Baha'i links
- Baha'i Monitor Issue 1
Palestinian Leader Denies Baha'i links
Abu Mazen, the leader of the PLO and front runner to succeed Yassir
Arafat as President of the Palestinian Authority in elections
9/1/05, has responded to allegations accusing him of being a Baha'i.
In a speech on Saturday 25/12/04 he made numerous citations of the
Koran, and this was interpreted as an effort to counteract rumours
being spread that he is a Bahai.
Abu Mazen has been accused of Baha'i links before. In May 2003,
leaflets were distributed in East Jerusalem said he was "a member of
the Bahai sect that was established in Iran with the encouragement
of British colonialism to besmear the image of Islam"
The former Israeli secret service chief Shabtai Shavit had also
previously claimed these links in an interview with the Israeli
newspaper Yedioth Ahranoth in December 2001. He said that Abu Mazen
would be "unable to fill Arafat's shoes because of his Baha'i
background", which would be like "naming a Samaritan as president of
Israel". The basis for the claim was given as his surname, Abbas,
being the same as the Abbas Effendi, or Adbu'l Baha. The newspaper
later published a correction at Abu Mazen's request
In May 2003 the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz published an interview
with Abu Mazen. He denied that he was a Baha'i and said he was angry
that "false rumours" had been published by the Jerusalem Post. "This
is not the first time that people spread that malicious rumour. I
sued a Jordanian newspaper for publishing it. Regrettably the person
I sued passed away before the court ruled unequivocally that the
report was false. I am a believing Muslim, son of a family of
believers and committed to the religions commandments"
The Baha'i World Centre in Israel has denied that Abu Mazen is a
Baha'i. Shmuel Elgrabli, the Centre's Israeli adviser is quoted as
saying "Mr. Abu Mazen is not known to the center and does not appear
on its rolls"
This is also rejected by Prof Moshe Sharon, the chair of Baha'i
Studies at the Hebrew University in Israel. He was quoted in Haaretz
giving three reasons why Abu Mazen could not be a Baha'i:
"It is impossible for Abu Mazen to be Bahai. First of all, if the
Bahai say someone isn't Bahai, then there's no chance they are. They
know all their members and have complete rosters of their members.
Secondly according to the Bahai religion it is absolutely forbidden
for a believer to live permanently in the land of Israel, between the
Jordan river and the Mediterranean. If you decide to be a Bahai you
have to immediately leave the country. Third, according to the
Faith's founder, Baha'u'llah, Bahai are prohibited from any
nationalistic political activity. A Bahai cannot be Arafat's deputy."
The source of the allegation is believed to be in his surname, Abbas,
which Abu Mazen shares with 'Abdu'l-Baha. However, Prof Sharon
dismisses this, saying that Abdul-Baha had only daughters and that
Abbas is a common name amongst Persians. He further emphasises that
one of the Bahai teachings is that a person is not born Bahai and
every believer must "seek the truth" personally.
A biographical article in Haaretz about Abu Mazen revealed that he
grew up in the Arab Quarter of Haifa, where Adbul-Baha lived. His
family were forced to flee from the area when he was 13.