Sunday, January 29, 2006

Iranian Jews uneasy over Holocaust denial

An Iranian Jew cagily protests that his coreligionists have not been asked what they think about President Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, Middle East Times (Egypt) reports.

"TEHRAN -- They may not be packing their bags just yet, but Iran's remaining Jewish minority is feeling deep unease over the fiery rhetoric of their hardline president.

"Since his unexpected election last June, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has launched an all-out verbal assault on what he views as an international Zionist conspiracy driven by the "myth" of the Holocaust.

"He has labeled Israel as a "tumor" that should be "wiped off the map" or moved as far away as Alaska. Those comments have deepened concern in the West and Israel, where the alarm has already sounded over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"Being a minority has its own problems, whether you are a minority in Iran or outside Iran," said Haroun Yashayaei, the president of Tehran's 17,000-strong Jewish community.

"But he asserted that, so far, Ahmadinejad's scorn was only directed at the State of Israel - and not the Jewish religion itself and its followers in Iran.

"Honestly speaking, we don't have any restrictions on holding our religious services. We have our own cemeteries, kosher food, schools and synagogues," he said.

"This kind of talk has no effect on emigration. We are Iranians. We have been living with the Iranian nation for the past 2,700 years. Judaism is an indigenous religion in Iran. People, including Dr. Ahmadinejad, have never taken an aggressive stance against Iranian Jews."

"What the community does feel, however, is that its feelings and opinions are being totally ignored when it comes to discussing the Holocaust. "

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