Iran’s stepped up its crackdown on the country struggling Christian community by closing a church in Tehran, prompting an Iranian human rights group and religious freedom experts to slam the regime.
“The ability to join a church or mosque or temple is one of the most fundamental religious freedoms,” Hadi Ghaemi, a spokesman for the group International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said last week.
“This drive to close churches is an assault on free religious practice, in violation of Iran’s international commitments, and a sign of growing religious intolerance within the Iranian government.”
According to the human rights group, Iranian Christians are in a dire situation because the regime assigned the Revolutionary Guard Corps to handle the “oversight of Christian churches in Iran, which were previously overseen by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.” Read more.
Kids at Islamic Jihad kindergarten celebrate end of year by demonstrating how Palestinian prisoners are ‘tortured’ in Israel. Teacher: We educate them to love resistance, Palestine
Children attending a kindergarten in Gaza that is run by Islamic Jihad celebrated their graduation by dressing up in army attire, waving toy rifles and chanting anti-Israel slogans.
“It is our obligation to educate the children to love the resistance, Palestine and Jerusalem, so they will recognize the importance of Palestine and who its enemy is,” the kindergarten’s director said. Read more.
Israel is working to block a bid by the Palestinian Authority to register the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem under the country of Palestine, when the World Heritage Committee meets in Russia from June 24 to July 6.
Earlier this month the committee announced that the church, as well as the nearby pilgrimage route, is among 36 sites which it plans to debate during that meeting. The debate marks the first time that the committee has considered registering a World Heritage site under Palestine.
The PA can request such registration because in October the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recognized Palestine as its 195th member state.
The UN has not recognized Palestine as a state. But as a result of the October vote, Palestine has full state rights in all UNESCO bodies, including the right to register sites on the World Heritage List.
As soon as its signature with the UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage was ratified in March, the PA asked the World Heritage Committee to register the church and the pilgrimage route in Bethlehem under Palestine. It made it onto the list under an emergency provision for endangered sites.
Earlier this month, UNESCO announced the inclusion of the Church of the Nativity on its list of 36 potential sites. It noted that this was a first for Palestine.
It did not mention that its International Council on Monuments and Sites, which evaluates each application, had recommended that for technical reasons the World Heritage Committee reject the PA’s application at this time.
“ICOMOS does not consider that the property can be considered to have been severely damaged or to be under imminent threat,” it said in a report, which can be found on the UNESCO web site. Read more.