Member of Iran’s Jewish community remains in custody over protests as 2nd released

Individual still held in Tehran, source says; three members of the Jewish community were initially arrested earlier this month during regime crackdown

File: In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police while in custody, in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (Middle East Images/AP)
File: In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police while in custody, in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (Middle East Images/AP)

One member of Iran’s small Jewish community remains in custody in Tehran as part of a crackdown on the ongoing anti-regime protests, a leader of the community has said.

The source, based outside Iran, told The Times of Israel that another member of the community, who was arrested in Shiraz earlier this month, was released last week.

The update comes after the source previously said that three Jews were arrested by Iranian authorities. One of the arrested Jews had already been released in Tehran when the report first came in, the source said.

It was not clear what grounds, if any, were given for the arrests.

Protests have spread across Iran since the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the so-called “morality police” in Tehran in September.

Authorities have responded with a crackdown that the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights says has killed at least 458 people, including more than 60 children.

Thousands have been arrested, including prominent actors and soccer stars.

A protester stands next to placards with portraits of the victims of Iran’s repression, near the French National Assembly in Paris on December 6, 2022 (JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

Last month the Tehran Jewish community condemned the protests, which were sparked by Amini’s death after she was detained for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

In a letter, the Tehran Central Jewish Committee said it was standing by the Iranian regime amid its deadly crackdown on protesters.

“This is a condemnation of the recent unrest in the country that led to the death and injury of several people in our country, as well as many financial losses to the country,” the letter said. “The community declares that it has always obeyed the position of the supreme leader,” it added.

“The community declares that the enemies of the system are creating insecurity by targeting the unity of the people. In recent days, unfortunate events and incidents have occurred in our beloved country, which has hurt the hearts of those loyal to Iran and the holy Islamic system,” the letter said.

“The community asks all members of our dear country to avoid polarizing the country and to discuss things. We hope that in the near future we will see unity, peace, security, and happiness in our beloved country,” it added.

Illustrative: In this November 20, 2014 photo, Iranian Jews enter the Molla Agha Baba Synagogue, in the city of Yazd 420 miles (676 kilometers) south of capital Tehran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

In September, during the first weeks of the protests, the committee issued a letter warning members to avoid synagogues during the violence.

Prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were some 100,000 Jews in Iran; by 2016, according to an Iranian census, that number had fallen to below 10,000.

Prominent figures in the Jewish community of Iran intermittently issue anti-Israel statements that match the regime’s agenda.

The Jewish community in Iran has previously taken other precautionary measures to protect members, with the country’s chief rabbi saying last year that he condemned the US killing of top Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Qassem Soleimani in 2020, amid fears Jews could be physically attacked by some Muslim neighbors.

Iran is openly sworn to Israel’s destruction and financially supports terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas that are also committed to this aim.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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