Iran Unveils Monument to Jewish Soldiers Killed in War With Iraq

Jewish community leaders and Iranian clergy attend ceremony honoring Jewish 'martyrs.'

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Iranian Jewish men pray at the Molla Agha Baba Synagogue, November 2014.
Iranian Jewish men pray at the Molla Agha Baba Synagogue, November 2014.Credit: AP

Iran this week unveiled a monument to Jewish soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988 and saw both countries suffer millions of casualties and billions of dollar in damage.

Jewish community leaders and a number of Iranian religious officials took part in the ceremony on Monday, according to Maariv's website, NRG.

Photographs from the ceremony were published on the websites of Iranian news agencies IRNA and Tasnim, showing banners featuring images of the fallen Jewish troops, called "martyrs," and wreaths placed alongside the monument, which includes a Hebrew inscription reading "Peace forever."

Other images show religious figures laying wreaths at the soldiers' graves and attendees of the ceremony praying together.

The vice speaker of Iran's parliament attended the ceremony, where he praised the Jewish community for supporting the government.

“The explicit stances of the Jewish community in supporting the Islamic Republic’s establishment and their obedience to the Supreme Leader of the [Islamic] Revolution demonstrate the bonds originating from the teachings of the divine religions,” Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard said on Monday, according to Tasnim news agency.

He also praised the Jewish community for denouncing U.S. demands on Iran and the "violent and inhumane" behavior of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran, a home for Jews for more than 3,000 years, has the Middle East’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel. But while Iran’s Jews in recent years had their faith continually criticized by the country’s previous governments, they’ve found new acceptance under moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

“The government has listened to our grievances and requests. That we are being consulted is an important step forward,” said Homayoun Samiah, leader of the Tehran Jewish Association. “Under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nobody was listening to us. Our requests fell on deaf ears.”

Most of Iran’s 77 million people are Shiite Muslims and its ruling establishment is led by hardline clerics who preach a strict version of Islam. Many Jews fled the country after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Jews linked to Israel afterward were targeted. Today, estimates suggest some 20,000 Jews remain in the country.

Screenshot of IRNA's photos of the 'Monument to Jewish Martyrs' unveiled in Tehran.

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