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Bahá’í Faith Vindicated in Turkey
From Turkey, on whose soil, for well nigh three score years and ten, were enacted some of the sublimest and most tragic scenes in the annals of the Cause; Turkey, under whose rule Bahá’u’lláh twice proclaimed Himself, was thrice exiled and banished, and finally ascended to the Abhá Kingdom, and where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent more than fifty years of His Life, in incarceration and suffering; has of late been rudely awakened to a Call which it has so long obstinately despised and ignored. Following on the overthrow of that effete theocracy, resting on the twin institutions of the Caliphate and Sultanate—those two sinister forces that have combined to inflict the deadliest blows to our beloved Faith in the earliest stages of its infancy and growth—an uncompromising policy aiming at the secularization of the State and the disestablishment of Islám was initiated and carried out with exemplary vigor. Religious institutions and monastic orders which under the guise of religious propaganda were converted into hot-beds of political intrigue and sedition were peremptorily closed, their adherents scattered and banished, their funds confiscated, their privileges and prerogatives abolished. None, save the little band of Bahá’u’lláh’s devoted followers, escaped the trenchant ax of the pitiless reformer; all, without fear or favor, had to submit to his searching investigations, his dictatorial edicts, his severe and irrevocable judgment. Lately, however, the Turkish Government, faithful to its policy of ceaseless vigilance, and fearful of the growing activities of the Bahá’ís under its rule, decided to order the Police in the town of Smyrna to conduct a close investigation into the purpose, the character and the effects of Bahá’í activity in that town. No sooner were the representative Bahá’ís in that locality arrested and conducted to the Law Courts for purposes of investigation, than the President of the Bahá’í Spiritual Assembly of Constantinople who, having read in the morning papers the report of the Smyrna incident, had resolved unsummoned to offer the necessary explanations to the authorities concerned, was in his turn arrested and taken to the Police Headquarters where he soon afterwards was joined by the other members of the Assembly. The 152 official searching of their homes, the seizure of whatever Bahá’í literature they had in their possession, their twenty-four hours detention at the Police station, the searching severity of the cross-examination to which they were subjected—all proved powerless to alarm and shake the faith of those intrepid champions of the Cause, or to evince anything detrimental to the best interests of the State. On the contrary, they served to deeply impress upon the minds and hearts of the officials concerned the sublimity, the innocence, and the dynamic force of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. So much so that their books were returned, a genuine desire to deepen their knowledge of the Cause was expressed by their examiners, and widespread publicity, as reflected in the articles of about a dozen leading newspapers of Turkey, was accorded by the Government, proclaiming the innocence of the Cause and lifting up the ban that now so oppressively weighs upon religious institutions in Turkey.
From Constantinople in European Turkey to the eastern confines of Anatolia, on the banks of the river Euphrates, where a small and flourishing Bahá’í Community has been recently established, a wave of public interest, criticism and inquiry has been sweeping over the surface of the land, as witnessed by the character and number of the leading articles, the illustrations and caricatures that have appeared in the most prominent newspapers of the capital and the provincial towns of Asiatic Turkey. Not only Turkey, but its neighboring countries of the East and the West, have lifted up their voice in the vindication of the Bahá’í truth. From information thus far gathered we learn that in Hungary, in ‘Iráq, Egypt and Syria, and as far west as France and England, newspapers have, of their own accord, with varying degree of accuracy, and in more or less detail, reported this incident in their columns, and have given, unasked and unaware, such publicity to our beloved Faith which no campaign of teaching, however elaborately organized by the believers themselves, could ever hope to achieve at the present time. Surely the invincible arm of Bahá’u’lláh, working through strange and mysterious ways, will continue to guard and uphold, to steer the course, to consolidate, and eventually to achieve the world-wide recognition and triumph of His holy Faith.