Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life is normal for Iran's Jews, says leader

Harun Yashayaie, the leader of Iran's Jewish community, adds his voice to those condemning last weeks' Holocaust denial conference in Iran. So far, he tells the German magazine Spiegel, the Jewish community has not suffered as a result. (With thanks: Albert)

SPIEGEL: Are you afraid that President Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli agitation will trigger a wave of anti-Semitism in Iran?

Yashayaie : I don't want to rule out that possibility, but so far we haven't noticed anything. The president keeps stressing that his rhetorical attacks are aimed at Israel and not against Jews in Iran. So far, life has been totally normal for the 25,000 members of our community. In Tehran alone we have 26 synagogues, as well as Jewish primary and secondary schools.

SPIEGEL: But you also try to avoid being recognizable as Jews in public. For example, you don't wear the yarmulke, the traditional skullcap.

Yashayaie : Iranian Jews do not traditionally wear the yarmulke. And officially there is no discrimination. As Iranians, we even fullfil our compulsory military duty.

SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, you are excluded from holding political office.

Yashayaie : We Iranian Jews have never aspired to a career in politics* or the military.

Read interview in full

*Meanwhile in Beverley Hills, CA, three Iranian Jews are standing for election to the city council (with thanks: Albert)