The events preceding the brutal stabbing of Farhang Amiri outside his home in Yazd, Iran, last September seemed to begin innocently enough.
Two young men came to the door to say they wanted to buy Mr. Amiri's pickup truck. Mr. Amiri's son, Payam, answered via intercom, and explained that the truck was not for sale.
But the two men insisted and began asking questions about things like the number of people living in the house.
Payam later said he suspected the two men were perhaps planning a raid on their home.
The next day, 26 September 2016, the two men returned. This time Mr. Amiri himself went out to talk to them.
The family soon heard screaming and looked out to see Mr. Amiri severely injured on the pavement. Neighbors and shopkeepers saw the two run away. Thinking a theft was in progress, they followed and captured one of the men, and brought the police.
In the meantime, Mr. Amiri--who had several stab wounds in his chest --was taken to the hospital. He died a few minutes after arriving.
The police questioned the suspect in front of the crowd, now gathered in the street. And witnesses recorded the following confession:
"I quickly stabbed him in the back and thought he would die, but he turned toward me" said the main suspect. "My friend put his hand on Mr. Amiri's mouth and held his hands, and I stabbed him three or four times in the heart, chest and face."
The inspector asked: "What motivated you to kill him?"
The suspect responded: "I knew he was a Baha'i."
The situation facing Baha'is in 2016
The Amiri case, which is still working its way through Iranian courts, offered a stark reminder of the situation that faced Iranian Baha'is in 2016.
On the one hand, Baha'is continue to face intense persecution by the government. At least 81 Baha'is were arrested in 2016, and nearly 300 Baha'i-owned shops or businesses were closed in an ongoing campaign of economic persecution. More than 29 Baha'is were expelled from university for their religious beliefs, and hundreds more were denied enrollment. As of January 2017, there were 90 Baha'is in prison in Iran.
Moreover, a government-sponsored campaign of anti-Baha'i propaganda in the media spewed out more than 11,ooo articles, web pages and programs in 2016 that denigrated Baha'is --which undoubtedly helped create an environment that may have incited Mr. Amiri's murderers.
On the other hand, the reaction of neighbors, who rallied to help catch Mr. Amiri's killers, and the...