Monday, November 10, 2008

Iran's Jews have 'no major problems' - Jewish MP

Iran's only Jewish MP has admitted that Jews do have problems, but not major ones, compared to the early years of the Iranian revolution. The government turns a blind eye to visits to Israel, he said. And president Ahmadinejad's 'Holocaust denial' was not shared by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Report by European Jewish Press. (With thanks: a reader)

BRUSSELS (EJP)---A Jewish Iranian parliamentarian, on a visit to the European Parliament this week , said Iran’s Jewish community doesn’t face major problems today and stressed that Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s statements on the Holocaust “are not shared by other leaders in the country.”

Ciamak Morsadegh is a member of a delegation of five MPs from Majlis, Iran’s parliament, who held two days of talks in the European Parliament in Brussels as part of an interparliamentary meeting.
In an interview with EJP, Morsadegh pointed out that with 25,000 people, the Jewish community of Iran is the largest in the Middle East, after Israel.
“We are living in a religious country as a religious minority. Of course we have some problems. I don’t want to say that everything is OK. But at this moment we don’t have major problems.Our day-to-day conditions are improving and our situation is now more stable and better than it was in the early years of the Iranian revolution when Jews and Muslims weren’t equal,” the 42-year-old physician who was elected in the Majlis as an independent candidate.
He is a member of the parliament's health committee.
He mentioned the fact that there are more than 40 synagogues in the country, half of them located in the capital, Tehran.
Some 60 percent of Iran’s Jews live in Tehran, the others being spread in various cities across the country, such as Shiraz or Ispahan. “Jewish children have the choice between going to governmental schools or Jewish schools, “ he mentioned.
In the past, several Jews aged between 40 and 60 have emigrated to Europe or the United States. “Today, we have a large population under 40 and older than 60.
He conceded that young Jews have problems with finding a job in governmental offices but also elsewhere due to the economic situation. “It is not impossible to find a job in public offices but it’s rather more difficult for Jews than for Muslims. “Even myself, I had the possibility to be employed as an associate professor in a governmental university but the conditions for me were harder than for a Muslim.”
Most of the Jews are working in small businesses but traditionally there are also an important number of doctors and dentists. “Since many centuries, Iranian people believe in Jewish physicians more than in other physicians,” the MP, who was born in Shiraz, in the southwest of Iran, said.
Jews living in Iran are free to travel abroad “anytime we want," he said. “We can go to the passport office, take our documents and leave the country.”
“Of course, according to the law, it is prohibited for Iranian Jews to visit Israel but the government closes the eyes,” he added.” “Iranian Jews go to Israel and other countries and when they come back they have no problems.”
“You must know that Iranian Jews are living in Iran since 30 centuries, Iranian Jewish culture being part of the country’s culture.” “We deeply feel Iranian.”
The Jewish community in Iran has probably the lowest rate of intermarriage and assimilation, he said.
In response to a question about Iranian president’s statements questioning the Holocaust, the MEP said Holocaust denial “is not the policy of the Iranian government but rather the personal thought of Ahmadinejad.”
“When do you speak to members of the government they don’t deny the Holocaust. You have to know that the President is not the most powerful leader of Iran. It is rather the Supreme leader, Aytollah Ali Khamenei , who decides the country’s policy and strategy.” Khamenei never denied the Holocaust, “ Morsadegh said.
The Tehran Jewish committee, the community’s central body, protested against the organization in 2006 of a confrerence on the Holocaust attended by several world Holocaust deniers.

Read article in full

No comments: