Photo: Orly Azoulay
Tehran synagogue (archives)
Photo: Orly Azoulay

Iran Jewish MP criticizes 'anti-human' Israel acts

Tehran lawmaker filling only seat allotted for Jews says Iranian Jewish community will not be celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary. 'We have nothing to do with Israel,' he says. Some 75% of Iran's Jews have fled country since Islamic revolution

An Iranian Jewish leader on Wednesday said his community would not mark this week's 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, which he accused of "killing innocent" Palestinians.


"We are in complete disagreement with the behavior of Israel," Siamak Morsadegh, the incoming Jewish member of the Iranian parliament following a March election, told Reuters.


"It is not related to us," he said about Thursday's celebrations in Israel to commemorate six decades of statehood. "We are Iranians. We have no relations with Israel. "


Iran's ancient Jewish community has dwindled by roughly 75% since the 1979 Islamic revolution but is still believed to be the biggest in the Middle East outside Israel, which the Islamic Republic does not recognize.


Like many people in Iran, members of minorities which also include Christians and other faiths can be reluctant to publicly criticize its ruling establishment and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who regularly predicts the demise of Israel .


The United States, another arch-foe of Iran, accuses it of discriminating against its religious and ethnic minorities.


Official representatives of the minorities say economic woes affecting all Iranians and other issues are to blame for people leaving, not any mistreatment of the minority groups.


Morsadegh said Jews in Iran enjoyed freedom of religion and other rights: "There are no specific problems for Jews in this country," he said by phone.


'Threatening atmosphere for Jews'

He declined to comment on remarks by Ahmadinejad, who sparked international outrage with his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and for questioning the Holocaust.


Judaism is one of three recognized minority religions in Iran. The community has a member in the 290-seat legislature and its own schools. Four other seats are reserved for Christians and Zoroastrians.


The US State Department said in its 2007 human rights report in March: "All religious minorities suffered Advertisement


varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in employment, education and housing."


The Iranian government's anti-Israel stance "created a threatening atmosphere for the (Jewish) community", it said.


The Jewish population in Iran has declined to about 25,000 from some 100,000 three decades ago.


פרסום ראשון: 05.07.08, 13:20
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