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Iranian Jewish MP condemns attacks on mosques

Siamak Moreh Sedgh says ‘there is no difference between a church, temple and mosque. All of them are places of worship’

Jewish Iranian MP Siamak Moreh Sedgh during an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Sunday, September 29, 2013 (photo credit: CNN screen cap)
Jewish Iranian MP Siamak Moreh Sedgh during an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Sunday, September 29, 2013 (photo credit: CNN screen cap)

The sole Jewish member of Iran’s parliament has condemned terror attacks on mosques and all places of worship.

“Mosques are the best element for unity in [the] Muslim world but have fallen into the hands of terrorist groups and are being destroyed,” said MP Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the Iranian Mehr news agency reported Tuesday.

Sedgh’s comments came two weeks after a suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group targeted Iran-backed Shiite rebels at a mosque in Yemen’s capital, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens more during holiday prayers.

Sedgh added, “All divine temples are the center of God’s attention. There is no difference between a church, temple and mosque. All of them are places of worship,” the report said.

IS, which controls swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, has repeatedly targeted Shiites in Yemen’s capital and elsewhere.

Bomb attacks at Shiite mosques in Sanaa on March 21 killed 142 people, with IS also claiming attacks on mosques in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

“I personally respect followers of all religions and wish them success. Many holy places of Muslim, Christian and Jewish people [have] come under attack and this matter has provoked the anger of all believers. Unfortunately, today we are also witnessing the destruction of mosques in the Muslim world,” said Sedgh.

In Iran, five seats in parliament are reserved for recognized religious minorities — one for a Jew, two for Christians and two for Zoroastrians. Moreh Sedgh, a 50-year-old physician who also serves as director of the Tehran Jewish Committee, has represented his community in parliament since 2012.

During the war in Gaza in summer 2014, the Jewish lawmaker compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

“The Zionist regime’s crimes are reminiscent of the actions taken by the German Nazis during the first and second world wars,” Sedgh told the Fars News Agency at the time.

He has criticized Israel on numerous occasions, and has dubbed the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians “inhuman.”

In May 2008, Sedgh said that Iran’s Jewish community would not mark Israel’s 60th anniversary. “We are in complete disagreement with the behavior of Israel,” Moreh Sedgh said at the time, adding that in Gaza Israel displayed “anti-human behavior… they kill innocent people.”

Iran had between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews before the 1979 Islamic revolution but most have since fled, mainly to the United States, Israel and Europe. There are now only about 8,500, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz, major cities south of the capital. Many Iranian Jews complain they are not treated equally under the law, Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abadi, the head of Tehran’s Jewish community and a doctor at Tehran’s Jewish Hospital, said earlier this year.

Sara Miller contributed to this report.

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