BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Iran's Jews face uncertain future
Iranian synagogue
Living anachronism? A full synagogue in Shiraz
By Jon Leyne

The 30,000 or so Jews living in Iran are - or fear they are - an anachronism: One of the last remnants of what was a widespread Jewish diaspora across the Middle East.

With the Iranian Government's deep hatred of Israel, Jews in Iran feel intensely vulnerable.

Around 50,000 are thought to have emigrated since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

The remainder have tried to get on with their ordinary lives without attracting attention.

Minority rights


Shiraz Jews at prayer
Iran's Jews have been around for two and a half millennia
The spotlight of this trial has been most unwelcome. Yet despite Iran's reputation for religious intolerance, the Jews do have their own special place in Iranian society.

They are recognised as an officially accepted religious minority, allowing them to practice their religion, to teach Hebrew and to organise Jewish community groups.

There's even a Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament.

Now the community fears it has become a pawn in the power struggle between the reformist President Khatami and his conservative opponents.

Hostages to fortune


Morris Mottamed in Shiraz
Morris Mottamed - Jewish MP - interviewed after Shiraz verdicts
Clumsy western pressure may only have increase their vulnerability.

The American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, recently said the spying trial was a "barometer" of US-Iranian relations.

That is close to an invitation to the conservative faction in Iran to use this issue to sabotage the gradual warming of relations with the United States to which they are so opposed.

Many Iranian Jews are now talking of emigrating, a trend which could eventually end the 2,500 year-old Jewish contribution to Iranian society.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

01 Jul 00 | Middle East
Iranian Jews guilty of spying
10 May 00 | Middle East
Iranian Jew denies spying charges
08 May 00 | Middle East
Iran 'spy' trial resumes
01 May 00 | Middle East
Iranian Jew 'admits spying'
11 Jun 99 | Middle East
Israel denies Iranian spy allegations
28 Oct 99 | Middle East
Khatami's promise to Jewish 'spies'
17 May 00 | Middle East
New defence at Iran 'spy' trial
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories