Federal Parliament - Bahá'í faith

22 November 2021

Dr ALYCan I start by commending the member for Moore, who is my neighbour in the northern suburbs of Perth, for bringing this motion forward. I'm sure that the member for Moore, like me, has been warmly welcomed by the local Baha'i community in the northern suburbs and has experienced their hospitality and their warmth, as I have. I have stood in this place several times now to speak about the Baha'i faith and the beauty of the Bahá'í faith and many times I have quoted or selected quotes from the founder of the Bahá'í faith, Bahá'u'lláh. It's getting to the point where I'm struggling to find new quotes, although there are many. I found this wonderful quote that I thought I would read in the chamber today. It is from the Tablets of the Divine Plan:

Consider the flowers of a garden. Though differing in kind, color, form, and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm, and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruits, the branches and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of hues, form and shape, enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effect thereof.

It's such a beautiful quote, and I thought it a very apt quote for the topic that I wish to speak on this evening and the motion that the member for Moore has brought forward. I chose this quote because it represents the wonderful people of Cowan and the wonderful diversity that exists within the Cowan community and, indeed, within Australia and, certainly, within the world. But it also expresses the wonderful diversity that I have found among members of the Bahá'í faith.

I first came across the Baha'i faith from a fellow student studying with me at the American University in Cairo, when I was at university there, and learnt then, all those years ago, about the Baha'i faith and about the ongoing persecution of people of Bahá'í faith in Iran. Pluralism and diversity—of culture, of thought, of political leanings and, of course, of faith—are the hallmarks of Australian democracy. Pluralism and diversity are valued within the Bahá'í faith. There are many, many more quotes that I could have chosen that express the peace, the love, the harmony and the unity that are core tenets of the Bahá'í faith, as many of the previous speakers have also alluded to. Considering the love of diversity, the openness of the Bahá'í faith, the openness with which members of the Bahá'í faith community have welcomed me, as a Muslim, and other members of parliament of different faiths, it is quite astounding that we are standing here today to speak about their persecution in Iran and the inability of such a gentle and peaceful people of faith to practise their faith in Iran.

Like other members who have spoken today, I welcome the 16 December resolution by the United Nations calling on Iran to uphold the rights of all its citizens. Recognising and accepting different faiths and the plurality of faith—and not just accepting but going beyond acceptance, going beyond tolerance, to respecting different faiths and the plurality of faith—is a basis of universal human rights. It is a cornerstone of Australian democracy. Freedom of faith, freedom to practise one's faith, freedom to choose what you want to believe in, is, of course, a basic human right. Like other members here, I call on the Iranian regime to end its continued discrimination against and persecution of people of Bahá'í faith and I lend my support to the Bahá'í community in Australia.