Iranian authorities have arrested almost 60 Bahais, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, including a 90-year-old man, in the last few weeks. The authorities detained Bahais for alleged ties to Israel and arrested them on corruption charges.

A 90-year-old man is among dozens arrested in past weeks in a new crackdown by Iranian authorities against Bahais, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority, a group said Wednesday.

The Bahais, whose faith is not recognised in the Islamic republic, say they have been the victims of a new wave of repression over the past year.

In the latest crackdown, almost 60 Bahais were reported to have been arrested in Iran in the last weeks, said the Bahai International Community (BIC), which defends the interests of members of the faith.

Another 180 incidents of persecution, such as interrogations or raids against businesses, have been recorded in recent weeks, BIC said in a statement.

Those arrested include Jamaloddin Khanjani, a 90-year-old who had already served 10 years in prison.

Iranian authorities earlier this month said nine followers of the Bahai faith had been arrested on corruption charges, linking the arrests to the alleged hoarding of pharmaceutical goods.

The Bahai faith is a relatively modern monotheistic religion with spiritual roots dating back to the early 19th century in Iran.

Iran brands Bahais “heretics” and often accuses them of being agents of arch-foe Israel, as the spiritual hub of the faith is headquartered in the Israeli port city of Haifa.

Bahais in Iran complain of discrimination in their daily lives, making it a struggle to open businesses and even bury their dead. They also complain that they are systematically denied access to higher education in Iran.

Katrine Houmøller, with AFP