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Situation of Jews in Iran

May 3, 1984
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While Jews and other religious minorities in Iran are discriminated against, they are not persecuted in the way that members of the Bahai faith are, Elliott Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs said today.

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Abrams said that in one of the world’s “worst” human rights problems, the regime of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini “has virtually criminalized” the Bahais.

Viewed as “heretics and as a potential fifth column for the U.S. or Israel, the Khomeini regime has robbed the Bahais of their rights as citizens in a way sickeningly reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s treatment of German Jews before the Holocaust,” Abrams said.

Judaism, however, is a recognized religion and Jews can practice their faith and teach it to their children, Abrams said. He noted that “synagogues and religious schools operate, at least in Teheran” and the Jewish community has a representative in the Iranian parliament.


But, Abrams said, “the Khomeini regime is fiercely anti-Zionist and anti-Israel, with little distinction discernable between these sentiments and anti-Semitism. Iranian Jews have been forced to make anti-Israel statements in public and prominent Jews, particularly those who may have visited Israel during the Shah’s regime, are always in danger of being denounced as Israeli agents. The loyalty of all Jews in Iran is suspect,” Abrams said.

He added that “Zionism” is considered a capital crime in Iran and several Jews were executed on charges of spying for the U.S. or Israel and for Zionism in the early days of the Khomeini regime. “Large numbers of Jews have fled Iran since the regime’s establishment,” he said. “Although Iran’s remaining Jewish population is clearly vulnerable there have been no arrests of which we are aware during the past two years,” Abrams said.

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