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Religious minorities in Iran co-exist peacefully: Rights official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the facade of Saint Sarkis Cathedral in Tehran.

Followers of religious minorities in Iran co-exist peacefully, enjoy all constitutional rights and play a substantial role along with their Muslim brothers in defending the nation, says the secretary of the Iranian Judiciary’s High Council for Human Rights.

During a recent meeting with Zoroastrian leaders, Ali Bagheri Kani said believers from all faiths, including Zoroastrians, Christians, and Jews, stood by their Muslim fellows during the eight-year war imposed on the Islamic Republic by the then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his Western supporters in the 1980s.

“The courage of Zoroastrian compatriots along with Muslim brothers to protect the identity of the Iranian nation and guarantee national sovereignty and protect the territorial integrity of the country is a manifestation of unity and maximum empathy of the Iranian nation against enemies, which has been and will be the secret of the victory of the Iranian nation in various fields.”

Bagheri Kani said the cornerstone of patriotism is the level of readiness of each person to sacrifice their life for the transcendent ideals of the Iranian nation.

Saddam was not alone in the war. There were several countries, including Germany, France, Britain, and the United States, which assisted him.

The Iranian official said the hostile powers were now hell-bent on harming Iran’s national unity and sowing discord among followers of various faiths and sects.

“The enemies of the Islamic Republic have targeted national unity and are trying to create division among various sections of society, but the experience of the benevolent coexistence of the followers of different religions in Iran, which is several thousand years old, has made this alliance inseparable.”

Elsewhere in his remarks, Bagheri Kani said perhaps nowhere in the world could one find a country like Iran, where people were free to perform their religious rites in a mosque, a church, a synagogue or a  Zoroastrian temple in peace and security.

A leader of the Jewish community in Tehran recently said followers of Judaism live in peace in Iran, and local Muslims respect their customs.

Arash Abaie, a civil engineer and prominent Jewish educator, cantor, Torah reader and scholar, said in a recent interview that Jews living in Iran had expanded their religious observance over the past four decades. 

In 2017, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, a Jewish lawmaker at the Iranian Parliament said Jews could freely practice their religion in the country and had always enjoyed better living conditions in the Islamic Republic than in Europe.

Religious minorities have direct representation in parliament, and they can vote for one of the two candidates approved by the Guardian Council. Christians are the largest religious minority in Iran with a population of some 250,000. Iran also has the largest Jewish minority in the Muslim world with a population of about 15,000 in the capital and more across the country.

 

 


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