Category: Iran

Inside Iran’s Jewish community

Although Iran and Israel are bitter enemies, few know that Iran is home to the largest number of Jews anywhere in the Middle East outside Israel. About 25,000 Jews live in Iran and most are determined to remain no matter what the pressures – as proud of their Iranian culture as of their Jewish roots.

Iran’s Jews Caught Again in No Man’s Land

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Nothing in the office of Iran’s sole Jewish lawmaker calls attention to his faith — no Star of David, no menorah or other symbol of Judaism. But like nearly every public building in Iran, it has a portrait of the Islamic Revolution’s patriarch, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Moris Motamed’s political headquarters highlight the well-practiced survival skills of Iran’s remaining 25,000 Jews — caught again in a political no man’s land by the fighting between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. Any public expression of sympathy for Israel would invite a sharp crackdown from authorities and hard-line

How minority religions fare in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Yazd , Iran — The legend describes one cloud of dust chasing another across the epic desert landscape. Arab horsemen were gaining on the Iranian princess, it is said, when she reached the looming cliffs, slipped into a seam in the rock and disappeared forever. As told by followers of the Zoroastrian faith that was on the run along with the princess, the tale nurtures not so much hope for the return of royalty as the survival of minority religions. In a country whose government is based on the Islamic faith that Arabs carried to the Persian plateau, that survival

Iranian president backs messianic cult

The key to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardline policies may not be hidden in his revolutionary past, or in any of the nuclear facilities dispersed across Iran, but in a small farming village near the holy city of Qom. Here, in what was until only a few years ago a shabby local mosque, Iran’s new radical Muslim leader has become the chief sponsor of a messianic cult whose massed followers pray each week for the end of the world as we know it. Since coming to power last year Mr Ahmadinejad has given a reported $US20 million ($26 million) and personal

Iran’s Jews face growing climate of fear

For the dwindling Jewish community in Iran, a sacred ritual is observed at 6.30 every evening as shortwave radios are switched on to listen to the daily Farsi broadcast from Israel. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power last June, life for Iran’s 25,000 Jews has become even more precarious as the president defiantly pursues a nuclear policy while declaring Israel should be “wiped off the world map”. Israel has long identified Iran as its biggest threat, and these concerns have grown amid repeated calls by its hard-line president for Israel’s destruction. Last Thursday, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert issued a

Mannequins get cuffed for being alluring

Tehran – Police in northeastern Iran are launching a new morality drive by confiscating alluring mannequins from boutiques and clothes stalls in the bazaar, authorities in the city of Bojnourd said on Monday. A spokesperson for the city’s judiciary, who asked not be named, explained that the drive would tackle problems of “public chastity”. Sixty five mannequins have been impounded so far. He explained the crack-down on tailors’ dummies was part of a larger offensive against anti-social behaviour such as vandalism and biker gangs. Bojnourd owes its traditional religious climate to the nearby shrine city of Mashhad, a focal point

Fake faith healer arrested for swindling

An Iranian faith healer who claimed to have a direct line to a Shi’a Muslim Imam who disappeared more than 1 000 years ago has been arrested after swindling the sick out of thousands in dollars. Press reports said the 52-year-old man, identified only as Majid, targeted multiple sclerosis patients with the promise of healing them by prayer vigils, the Hamshahri newspaper reported on Monday. He also promised a fast track to heaven for the sick, claiming he was in twice-weekly contact with the 12th Shi’a Imam Mahdi, who is known to Shi’a as the “hidden imam” after he disappeared