Edited By Soli Shahvar
4. Episodes from the Early History of the Bahá’í Faith in Switzerland, with Particular Reference to the Middle East
Switzerland was the sixth Western country to be opened to the Bahá’í religion; in 2003, it celebrated the centenary of the establishment of the first Bahá’í residents.1 This chapter will describe the earliest connections between the Bahá’í Faith and Switzerland and then present a selection of episodes in the early history of the development of the Swiss Bahá’í community. As is well known, the Bahá’í religion has its origins in nineteenth-century Qájár-era Persia and in the Bábí religion, which the Qájár authorities sought to eradicate through violence sanctioned by the Shí‘í clergy. The persecution of key Bahá’í figures and their exile in stages through the Ottoman Empire brought Swiss nationals into contact with adherents of the Bábí and Bahá’í religions not only in Persia but also in the Ottoman provinces of Iraq and Palestine, as well as in Egypt. By the early decades of the twentieth century, a small number of Bahá’ís, including Bahá’í students from the Middle East, were engaged in activities to spread the Bahá’í teachings in Switzerland. In the 1920s through the 1950s, when Shoghi Effendi was head of the Bahá’í Faith, the Swiss landscape became his favoured location for rest and rejuvenation.
The first mention of the Bahá’í Faith in the Swiss newspapers occurred in 1852,2 following the wave of persecution of the Bábís consequent to the ←87 | 88→attempt...
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