Muslim extremists have damaged historic churches in recent years without any response from international groups, a Christian news outlet in Iran says.
Mohabat News reported that in recent years, Islamic extremists destroyed a number of church sites, including historic Armenian and evangelical churches. The reports cited vandalism at a historic Christian cemetery in 2012, more recent property damage at an Armenian church in Sava, and at the destruction of least two churches in Salmas County. Many of the roughly 500 registered church buildings are abandoned or “on the verge of destruction.”
Iran Press Watch, which documents persecution against the Baha’i minority, reported security forces have often closed, relocated, and damaged their cemeteries.
Mohabat News criticized UNESCO, the UN agency that recognizes places around the world for their cultural significance, for overlooking the incidents.
The agency often speaks out against attacks on cultural and religious sites; it condemned Islamic State’s (ISIS) destruction of the Syrian Temple of Bel in 2015 and Palmyra’s Tetrapylon in 2017.
The Iranian government is also responsible for confiscation of land from non-Muslims and allowing historic Christian sites to fall into disrepair. In 2013, Deutsche Welle reported the Doulab cemetery near Tehran was in danger of “rotting away” after government officials revoked the cemetery’s license. The land was supposed to be a protected cultural site.
“Constructors and investors have cast an eye on this piece of land. There are plans to convert this area into a park. But this cemetery is part of [Iran’s] national cultural heritage and is protected,” said Siavesh Rastegar, whose grandmother is buried in the cemetery.
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SOURCE: WORLD News Service
Julia A. Seymour