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Iran: Religious Freedom

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the human rights situation of Jewish people in Iran since October 2009; and if he will make a statement. (321839)

Jews are one of three religious minorities, alongside Christians and Zoroastrians, which are constitutionally permitted to practise their religious faith in Iran. In reality however, they cannot hold positions in the judiciary, police and security forces, limiting the role they are permitted to play in public life. Although Jews have enjoyed a relative degree of freedom to practise their religion, including the use of Hebrew for religious instruction, they face various limitations on their rights to travel and to communicate with Jewish communities outside Iran, especially in Israel.

Iran's anti-Israel policy continues to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among Iran's Jews, and this fear has been propagated by President Ahmadinejad's repeated denial of the Holocaust and anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda in the media. The Government have raised concerns over the treatment of Iran's religious minorities on many occasions with the Iranian authorities, calling on the Iranian authorities to uphold their international legal undertakings to safeguard religious freedom and to stop discrimination and persecution on the grounds of religion.