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Zoroastrians outraged at being designed as apostate by Khameneh’I
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posted June 03, 2001 11:48
TEHRAN-PARIS First of June (IPS) By ruling that the Zoroastrians are "apostate", the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i not only had proven his ignorance of religious matters, but also outraged the Zoroastrian communities, both in Iran and in the world.
In a fatwa, or religious edict, Ayatollah Khameneh'i, in response to a question to know what is the status of heritage under Islam in a Zoroastrian family where one of the children has converted to Islam rules laconically that "with the existence of a Muslim heritor, the apostate do not get heritage".
A Zoroastrian father of whom one of the children had eventually converted to Islam has put the question to Mr. Khameneh’i. Nevertheless, his unconsidered answer has both shocked the Zoroastrian community, for the simple reason that, like the Jews and the Christians, the 200.000 strong Zoroastrians are officially recognised by the Constitution and for this reason, the community has a representative in the Majles.
In an angry letter written to Ali Khameneh'i by one of the community’s Mo’bed, or leader, Mr. Kamran Jamshidi asked the lamed and almost illiterate leader of the Islamic Republic how does he dare to declare the Zoroastrians as apostates as it is well-known and admitted that they had been the first ones to have introduced monotheism, even before the Jews and their god Yehovah.
To edict a fatwa, one must be a Grand Ayatollah, but Mr. Khameneh'i is in fact not even an Ayatollah, as he had been elevated to that rank overnight after he was chosen by the Assembly of Experts to replace Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in June 1989.
According to Shi’ism, the dominant religion in Iran, it takes a student in Islamic theology more than forty years to reach the rank of grand ayatollah.
Mr. Khameneh'i was a junior Hojjatoleslam at the death of the founder of the Islamic Republic and under normal circumstances, it would take him at least 20 years of study, teaching and writing before acceding to the rank of Ayatollah.
Like other Iranian religious minorities, Zoroastrians are also suffering from various form of discrimination. Being considered as second-class citizens, they are forbidden equal opportunities in public administrations, army, education, social activities etc.
Because of these discriminations, a great number of Iranians belonging to the religious minorities have fled the nation. The Jews have shrank from some 100.000 before revolution to 25.000 and the Christians, the largest of the religious minorities, from more than 350.000 to 250.000. In his letter, Mr. Jamshidi, after reminding the egocentric Khameneh'i that not only like the Christians and Jews, the Zoroastrians are also "people of the Book", but the faith had been "born" in Iran and recognised officially by Islam, points to the discrimination the Zoroastrian and other religious minorities are subject to under the Islamic regime of Iran.
"Don’t you not think that time has arrived to end these shameful discriminations, to consider all Iranians equal between them, regardless of their religion, to provide equal opportunities"? Mr. Jamshidi says. The great majority of Iranian Zoroastrians fled the country after it was invaded by Islam more than 1400 years ago and took refuge in India, where they are known as "Parsi" and form the nation’s elite community, particularly in business, industry, trade and culture.
He reminds that ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution in 1979, Zoroastrians had been bared from being admitted in public administrations "and now, with your fatwa, you go further and by pronouncing the community as apostate, you deprive them from their due and legal heritage, giving them to Muslims only", Mo’bed Jamshidi said, urging Mr. Khameneh'i to "immediately" remove his controversial fatwa.
All times are PT (US)
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