A few members of the Jewish community during a ceremony in Iran

Iran Compels Jews And Minorities To Honor Islamic Revolution

Thursday, 02/08/2024
Benjamin Weinthal

Benjamin Weinthal is a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Iran’s Jews and non-Muslims have been forced to attend celebrations of the Islamic revolution as the regime continues to fight for credibility on the eve of upcoming elections.

On the Iranian Jewish community’s Telegram channel, the community wrote publicly about its "enthusiastic presence" at the event last month.

The event was attended by figures such as the head of Jewish community and representative in Iran’s pseudo parliament, Homayoun Sameach, and rabbis Arash Tehrani and Davis Sasani. An Armenian representative was present at the ceremony along with a Zoroastrian group, in addition to IRGC figures and commanders.

Alireza Nader, an Iranian-American expert on religious communities in Iran, told Iran International, “The regime treats Iran’s minorities terribly but wants to present a false image that they support the Islamic Republic through such events. Nothing can be further from the truth.”

Tehran-born Jew, Ben Sabti, who is a researcher in the Iran program at the Institute for National Security Studies, told Iran International that minorities are “hostages in the hands of the Iranian regime and they have to do anything that is needed to survive”.

At the time of the revolution in 1979, there were roughly 80,000 Jews living in Iran while today their numbers are between 5,000 to 8,000. The largest numbers have moved to Israel and the US.

Karmel Melamed, an LA-based Iranian-American Jew told Iran International, “It shouldn't surprise anyone that the mullah regime in Iran has paraded out Iran's Jews and other religious minorities from the country to supposedly honor the regime's Islamic revolution of 1979 because this has been their long standing propaganda tradition to do so.”

Melamed, who has written extensively on Iranian Jews, said that since the founding of the regime, the authorities have either paid off or used duress against religious minorities in Iran to have them participate in sham public events that promote the regime under a guise of religious pluralism. Officially, Iran only permits the three monotheistic religions but even the country's Sunni Muslim minority suffer extreme oppression.

Iranian law denies freedom of religion to large minority groups such as the Baha’is with ongoing arrests under sham security charges plaguing the community. Businesses have been forced to close and its community prohibited to register with universities, according to Human Rights Watch.

The government also discriminates against the country’s Azeri, Kurdish, Arab, and Baluch ethnic minorities with activists systematically arrested on sham charges.

In contrast to such public shows of support to the regime, Melamed explained that the country’s Jews and non-Muslims are treated “as third class citizens with limited to no rights and created an environment of extreme hostility, imprisonment or confiscation of their properties, to the point where the vast majority of non-Muslims in Iran have fled Iran since 1979 ... therefore they now resort to these events with religious minorities participating in order to keep up appearances of supposedly being wanted by the people of Iran.”

While Tehran continues to call for the destruction of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, and amidst a proxy war being waged against Israel and its ally, the US, the country’s Jews are under deepened pressure.

Melamed said, “For anyone foolish enough to believe that this mullah regime in Iran is benevolent to the Jews of Iran and created a safe place for them to live in, just look at the numbers of Jews living in Iran today. The numbers don't lie."


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