One in a continuing series on the stars who bring their causes to Washington. Monday’s visitor: Rainn Wilson.
Event: Commemoration of seven Baha’i leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran for five years.
Venue: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Bona fides: Emmy-nominated comic actor, best known as “The Office’s” pompous paper salesman Dwight Schrute. Arguably Hollywood’s most prominent member of the Baha’i faith.
Backup: Roxana Saberi, the U.S. journalist who, while jailed in Iran in 2009, shared a cell with two of the Baha’i leaders; Katrina Lantos-Swett of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
What he wants: More attention to the plight of Iran’s Baha’i, the largest religious minority in that nation; they have long been persecuted by the government, prohibited from getting university degrees and often jailed. “These poor seven souls are wasting away on trumped-up charges just because they want to pray together,” he told us.
How he looked: Like a real-life D.C. advocacy type. Dark, checked sports coat, slightly baggy pants, chunky specs, scruffy beard.
Observation: Is it hard for a comic to be taken seriously in the advocacy world? “It bothered me more at first — do people want me to be Dwight, am I supposed to tell jokes? But I stopped worrying about what people think about me. I just speak my conscience.”