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Government Bodies in Iran Convert Church to Hussainia - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Government Bodies in Iran Convert Church to a Hussainia

Government Bodies in Iran Convert Church to a Hussainia

Government bodies in the Iranian capital Tehran seized a Church of the Assyrian minority in the country, under the pretext of building a Shiite shrine. The representative of the Assyrian community in Parliament, Jonathan Bet-Kelia, described the incident as a «rape of the places» owned by the Assyrian minority in Iran.

Bet-Kelia criticized the actions of government bodies towards his community, highlighting the suffering, discrimination and legal restrictions on them as well as other religious minorities like Christians and Mandaeans, in a speech to parliament last week on the occasion of the New Year. He also threatened to resort to the judiciary, wondering: «What is the use of our presence in a Parliament that considers us apostates? »

Bet-Kelia told Sharq that he had approached Ali Younesi, special assistant to the regime’s President Hassan Rouhani on ethnic minorities’ affairs, on this matter but was told that nothing could be done about it. Younesi is a former Minister of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and is personally responsible for ordering numerous arrests and assassinations of dissidents.

Younesi also confirmed on Monday that «extremist groups or people of any religion or sect are enemies of Iran». Younsei accused «Iran’s enemies» of trying to export differences to Iran and disseminate them among the followers of religions and leaders of religious communities, and divide Shiites and Sunnis, Jews and Christians.

On the other hand, Bet-Kelia criticized, in his Parliamentary speech, Iranian President Hassan Rohani, because of discrimination and restrictions in recruiting followers of religious minorities in government agencies and the excluding them form military and security positions and leading positions of diplomatic departments and bodies.

The Assyrian representative also tackled the recognition of the Civil Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran of Christians and other religious minorities’ law, criticizing discrimination in Qassas and inheritance in Article 881, which states that an apostate does not inherit from a Muslim, while a Muslim, being the heir of an apostate, inherits the funds.

The Iranian parliament allocates five seats for minorities, but they complain of ignoring their demands by the parliament and the Iranian government. Within this context, Bet-Kelia said that minority representatives always demand reconsideration of Iranian constitutional article that violates their rights. He also pointed out that the Parliament ignored a draft resolution submitted by representatives of minorities 12 years ago to amend the constitutional articles, despite the fact that it was supported by 198 MPs at the first time.