‘You’re going to be buried’: Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan threatens Israeli envoy

Tehran’s representative in Baku says ‘evil Zionist’ crossed ‘red line’ by reading history book about Iranian city

Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, October 11, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, October 11, 2019. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan threatened Israel’s envoy to the country on Wednesday, telling the Israeli he would be “buried” for reading a book.

Israel’s ambassador in Baku, George Deek, had posted a picture of himself on Twitter reading a book called “Mysterious Tales of Tabriz.”

Tabriz is a city in Iran, near its border with Azerbaijan, and is the capital of Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province. The majority of the residents are Azerbaijani and their language is predominant.

“I’m learning so much about Azerbaijani history and culture in Tabriz in this great book I was recently presented,” Deek said. Deek, a Christian Israeli-Arab from Jaffa, is a longtime diplomat and spokesperson for Israel overseas.

Iran’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Seyed Abbas Mousavi, responded by posting a screenshot of Deek reading the book and threatening the Israeli envoy.

“For the information of this adventurous boy: Our beloved [Tabriz] is known as the land of FIRSTS in [Iran’s] proud history,” Mousavi said.

“Apparently, the FIRST Evil Zionist is going to be buried by the zealous people of Tabriz, too. Never cross our red-line, ever!” he wrote. Mousavi is also a former foreign spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Joshua Zarka, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general, responded to Mousavi, saying on Twitter, “Iran threatens to kidnap Swedish citizens because of a terrorist put in jail, Iran’s Ambassabor to Azerbaijan threatens ours for reading a book.”

“This regime is bringing its country and people, including in Tabriz, to its worst level ever and triggers conflicts with everyone,” Zarka said.

Iran and Azerbaijan are neighbors with long ties but have clashed over Israel and other issues.

A secular, Muslim-majority state, Azerbaijan has long had warm relations with Jerusalem. Baku has bought billions of dollars of weapons from Israel and provided the Jewish state with oil.

Last year, Iran claimed Israel maintained a military presence in Azerbaijan, vowed to take action and staged military drills near its border with Azerbaijan, which denied the allegations.

The two countries later smoothed over the standoff through dialogue.

Azerbaijan and Iran have also been at odds over Tehran’s backing of Armenia in the decades-long Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of deploying Israeli-made kamikaze drones in that conflict.

Tehran has long been wary of separatist sentiment among its ethnic Azerbaijani minority, who comprise around 10 million of Iran’s 83 million population.

The ties between Israel and Azerbaijan date back to the break-up of the USSR in the early 1990s.

The two countries forged diplomatic and trade relations, as Israel sought to build bridges with Muslim countries and Azerbaijan was working to develop new relationships beyond its traditional ties with Moscow.

Azerbaijan is home to a small Jewish community numbering in the thousands.

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