Saturday, 24 June, 2017

‘Iran safer for Jews than France’, Iranian sole Jewish MP says

Iranian Jews pray at the Abrishami synagogue on Palestine Street in Tehran. (photos credit:REUTERS)

“Iran is much safer for Jews than France and there is no need for security at synagogues,”

In his first conversation with an Israeli journalist, Iran’s sole Jewish parliamentarian Siamak Morsadegh discussed the status of Jews in Iran and the prospects of an Iranian-Israeli war, Jpost reported.

Some excerpts of his interview are mentioned in the following:

• I pray in Hebrew but think in Farsi. I am religious and observe the Sabbath like most of Iran’s Jews.

• Iran is much safer for Jews than France and there is no need for security at synagogues. The small difference is, of course, in freedom of expression and in fear of the watchful eye of the government.

• In the history of Iran, Jews have never been forbidden from being in any city, not even in the holiest. We have no problem with religious freedoms. We have a synagogue, school, kosher butcher, kosher restaurants.

• As a Jew in Iran, the highest position that can be attained is member of Parliament, and there is only one such position. A Jew cannot be president, a minister or deputy minister and cannot have an official role in the army. In order to hold these positions, you must be Muslim. But you can, for example, get the highest degree possible from the university and teach. Many Jews learn at the university, and there are some Jews who lecture there.

• Always, even before the revolution, the Iranian government distinguished between Jews and Zionists. And to be a Jews does not mean that you agree with everything Israel does. When there is criticism of Israel, it does not constitute a problem for us. True, there may be people who start to ask questions about Jews during a bad crisis with Israel, but in our daily life we see Judaism and Zionism as separate entities.

• There were all kinds of affairs, but now the situation is better, and I think that it will continue to improve everyday. There are a few more legal problems. Up until a few years ago there was a difference between compensation payments for the death of Muslims and non-Muslims, but following a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khamenei, today they are the same.

• Or, for example, inheritance law, which favors Muslims or Muslim converts. If the other beneficiaries belong to another religion, they will be disinherited. It is a law from one hundred years ago and we are making efforts to change it.

• I think that all of the Jews and all of the Muslims can live in complete peace if the extremism ends.

• It has already been stated many times that Iran is not interested in starting a war with Israel because it knows that anyone starting a war in the Middle East is committing an act of suicide.

• I think that Iran’s leaders are sane enough and smart enough to prevent a war with Israel. I admit that a few years ago, I was suspicious of Netanyahu and I thought that he was crazy enough to start a war. Today I think that the situation has improved somewhat after the nuclear deal, and a war between Israel and Iran is an unacceptable possibility.

Jewish community in Iran: all you need to know

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