Bahai News - IRANIANS HAIL POPE'S ROLE IN INTERRELIGIOUS
8-Nov-2000 -- ZENIT News Agency
IRANIANS HAIL POPE'S ROLE IN INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Officials Meet in Their Embassy at Vatican
ROME, NOV. 7, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- While religious discrimination continues
in their country, Iranian officials meeting in Rome underlined the positive
role that John Paul II is playing in promoting dialogue among all faiths.
Iranian deputies came to Rome for last weekend's Jubilee of governors and
legislators. On Friday they met in their nation's embassy at the Vatican
along with representatives of religious minorities who participate in the
Islamic Consultative Assembly.
Ahmad Bourghani, president of the Parliamentary Friendship Group between
Italy and Iran, was among the Iranian delegates. He emphasized that the
politicians' Jubilee was a privileged occasion to promote mutual
understanding between Christians and Muslims.
Non-Muslims comprise only 210,000 of Iran's 60 million people. According to
the Iranian Constitution, five of the 290 parliamentary seats belong to
Christians, who number slightly more than 100,000, have the right to three
seats (one for Syrian and Chaldean rite Christians, and two for Armenian
Christians). Jews, the second minority, have one deputy, while Zoroastrians,
who number about 10,000, have one seat.
However, the "Report 2000 on Religious Liberty," published by Aid to the
Church in Need, states that apostasy from Islam is punishable by death in
the country, both for the one who causes it as well as the one who abandons
The same report reveals that Christians are leaving the country "because
they can no longer open restaurants, small kiosks, be hairdressers or
dentists. In case of an accident, the life of a non-Muslim is worth far
less than that of a Muslim; the monetary sanction for running someone over
is more than 100 times less."
Since 1991 no Jewish periodical has been allowed to publish. The situation
of Jewish believers worsens because of their solidarity ties with their
co-religionists in Israel, which the regime's propaganda presents as
"little Satan," the report explains.
According to Human Rights Frontiers, followers of the Bahai religion were
arrested last January and February and condemned to death. ZE00110702
©Copyright 2000, Zenit News Agency
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