Accessibility links

Breaking News

No Major Destruction In Attack On Holy Jewish Site In Iran - US Condemns

The tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan, Iran. FILE PHOTO
The tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan, Iran. FILE PHOTO

The extent and the exact nature of a reported attack on a Jewish shrine in western Iran early Friday local time remains unclear and no attacker has been identified yet.

Iran's official news agency IRNA on Saturday morning confirmed that there had been an attempt to break into the tomb of Esther and Mordechai, a holy Jewish site in Hamedan, but removed the report from its website two hours after its publication.

On Saturday morning IRNA reported from Hamedan that the perpetrator of the attack on the Jewish tomb of Esther and Mordechai had tried to enter the building through an adjacent bank but had failed in his attempt. The report said the Jewish shrine had not sustained damages. It also claimed that the perpetrator's face had been recorded on CCTV footage and police were looking for him.

Karmel Melamed, a Los Angeles-based journalist and blogger in a tweet on Friday night said his sources who have contacts with Iran's Jewish community have confirmed that there was an attempt to set fire to the synagogue at the tomb but damages were minimal and an eyewitness told VOA Iran that he saw several fire trucks rushing to the shrine of Esther and Mordechai but authorities prevented people from getting close.

So far the Jewish Associations of Hamedan and Tehran have not commented on the reports.

The Student Basij Militia of the Hamedan Province in February threatened to destroy the tomb of Esther and Mordechai and to build the "Consulate of Palestine" in its place in reaction to President Donald Trump's "deal of the century".

In a tweet on Friday the National Director of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Jonthan Greenblat said that the tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Iran had been torched.

"Disturbing reports from Iran that the tomb of Esther & Mordechai, a holy Jewish site, was set afire overnight. We hope that the authorities bring the perpetrators of this antisemitic act to justice and commit to protecting the holy sites of all religious minorities in Iran," Greenblatt wrote in his tweet.

While attacks on Baha'i sites in Iran is common but Jewish community property has been relatively safe, as Iran recognizes Judaism as a legal religion, while Baha'is are considered heretics and harshly persecuted.

Meanwhile, Elan Carr, the US Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, strongly condemned the attack on the tomb of Esther and Mordechai and called the Iranian regime "the world's chief state sponsor of antisemitism".

"[Iran] must stop incitement and protect its Jewish community and other minorities," Carr wrote in a tweet.

“We are outraged by reports that the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan, Iran, was desecrated by arson last night," the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement on Friday. The statement also alleged that members of the Iranian Basij​ militia have threatened to raze the tomb of Mordechai and Queen Esther to the ground.

  • 16x9 Image

    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.