Iran has unveiled a monument to honor Jewish-Iranian soldiers who fell during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
In a ceremony in Tehran on Monday, a senior Iranian parliament member praised the Iranian Jewish community’s ties to the state and its “obedience” to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ruhollah Khomeini before him.
“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 that originate from the teachings of divine religions,” the Tasnim news agency quoted Deputy Parliament Speaker Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard as saying.
According to the news agency, he also praised “the clear stances adopted by the Jewish lawmakers in condemnation of the American excessive demands [during nuclear negotiations], the Israeli atrocities and the ‘violent and inhumane’ behavior of [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The Islamic Republic News Agency published a series of photos from the ceremony, part of which was held at the grave sites of the Jewish soldiers.
Iran, a home for Jews for more than 3,000 years, has the Middle East’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel, an estimated 20,000.
Last month, the Associated Press published a report indicating that while the community was continually criticized by the country’s previous governments, Iranian Jews have found new acceptance under that ostensibly 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 hard-line 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.
AP contributed to this report.