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02/19/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) –  Unconfirmed reports are circulating that the Iranian government has made threats to destroy the tomb of Esther and Mordechai located in Hamedan, and instead convert it into a consular office for Palestine. A raid by Iran’s Basij on February 15th was the latest move against the tomb and was allegedly in response to the United States’ Peace Plan announcement between Palestine and Israel.

The threat of the tomb’s destruction highlights Iran’s Jewish history and community. But it also runs parallel to several challenges that Iranian Christians face, as many of their charges following arrest are phrased within a framework of terms that connect them to Zionism. The tomb of Esther and Mordechai are important to both Jews and Christians. But for local Christians to speak about the tomb at such a sensitive point in time would put them at great risk for further persecution.

Historical sites connected with Christianity are often targeted by Islamists. For example, the Islamic State had targeted the tomb of Jonah and threatened the tomb of Nehemiah in Iraq. In nearby Turkey, historic churches are commonly converted into mosques. The targeting of these soft-sites often mask and foreshadow deeper problems of persecution within the country. In the case of Iran, the country frequently rates as one of the world’s worst abusers of religious freedom.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]