Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Appeal to UNESCO: save Esther's tomb

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which fights antisemitism worldwide, has added its voice to condemnation of the Iranian authorities for sponsoring the rewriting of the story of Purim and threatening the Hamadan shrines of Esther and Mordechai by stirring up anti-Jewish incitement. It calls for UNESCO to establish instruments for the universal protection of holy sites: (with thanks Dan; Eliyahu)

In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, noted, "The Iranian student Basij militia, of Bu-Ali Sina/Avicenna University in Hamadan province, have removed the mausoleum sign to the entrance of the Esther and Mordechai tomb in Shush, during a demonstration replete with antisemitic racist calumny".

The letter continued, "The annual feast of Purim is a Jewish celebration of delivery from genocide.The Bible recounts how the Persian monarch, Ahasuerus was warned by his Queen, Esther, and her uncle Mordechai of his Minister Haman’s treachery. Thus was averted Haman’s planned massacre of Persian Jewry. Like the Passover story, Purim is a children’s festival iconizing liberation and justice. The tomb of its heroes, Esther and Mordechai, has for centuries been a revered Jewish pilgrimage site, long acknowledged as such by the Iranian authorities as a protected national heritage landmark."

Samuels pointed to Iranian government-sponsored Fars News Agency reports here and here:-

"The student Basij campaign, which began last September, has now turned menacing in words and actions, declaring, inter alia, that:

-the removal of the mausoleum sign denotes the effacement of the site’s Jewish character -an accompanying revisionist narrative holds Esther and Mordechai responsible for the murder of 75,000 Iranian [sic] martyrs, murdered in the course of one day i.e. 10% of the then Iranian population

-this was 'a Holocaust' that displaces the myth of the Nazi Holocaust
-the shrine is an arm of Israeli imperialism that impugns Iranian sovereignty -its name must be obliterated to teach the younger generation to beware of the crimes of the Jews and to return the shrine to the Iranian people

-the site must become 'a Holocaust memorial' to the Iranian victims of Esther and Mordechai, and must be placed under the supervision of the religious endowments authority


-speakers listed, declared that 'unfortunately, large numbers of Iranian citizens, unaware of the facts, have travelled to this tomb of the damned, which honours the murderers of thousands of Iranians'. They then presented a litany of supposed 'Jewish atrocities' in Ethiopia and Yemen, and claimed that 'the Jewish festival of Purim sweetens the blood of Jewish children' with the misfortunes of Iran."

The Centre argued that "this matter should be of concern to UNESCO on two counts:-the abuse of Bu-Ali Sina /Avicenna University - founded by the French Ministry of Education in 1973 – now become a vector for the dissemination of, and incitement to, hatred in direct violation of UNESCO’s educational provisions

2-the physical and moral damage to the site contravenes UNESCO’s World Heritage principles"

The letter urged UNESCO "to condemn these abuses and to call upon the Iranian authorities to take appropriate measures to terminate this campaign of racism and desecration."

"It is perhaps time for UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee to establish instruments for the universal protection of holy sites," concluded Samuels.

The Centre also shared this information with the French authorities, urging the suspension of all cooperation with Bu-Ali Sina/Avicenna University, pending its condemnation of its students’ racist behaviour. The University was established by France in 1973.

Read article in full

3 comments:

Andrew said...

sorry for being out of topic


Egyptians are in need
everybody everywhere ,we need your support
during the last 2 (january 25 , 26)days there was a demonstrations everywhere in Egypt
i was there and i'm proud of my generation we made a demonstrations without any violence or riots
the real face of the regime of Mubarak has appeared
everything what said by the leaders of ruler party was a big lie
Anti-riot police used violence , facebook , twitter , live video stream sites were blocked
and there's murders and wounded people

PLEASE we need your support urgently
tell others about our case
make protests before Egypt's embassy or consulate
start to make pressure on your governments to STOP the crimes of Mubarak's regime

bataween said...

We're with you Andrew, and your struggle to overthrow the tyrant Mubarak. But careful what you put in his place, if they day comes - you don't want to get rid of him only to let in the Muslim Brotherhood. Imagine what that would mean for women, Copts and civil rights.

Sylvia said...

If you're talking about the crimes against the Copts and the Christians, you should tell your friends to stay inside and take precautions for their safety and that of their families, particularly AFTER FRIDAY PRAYER. And to be on the safe side, Copts should STAY OUT OF CHURCHES ON SUNDAY. From my experience, they'll be pouring out of the mosques and better stay out of their way. Good luck.
The Muslim brotherhood have prepared and trained for this opportunity for decades and they are going to do their best not to waste it.
Be safe and let us know if you're OK.