Iranian authorities investigate torching of holy Jewish site in Hamedan

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Iranian authorities are investigating the torching of the tomb of Esther and Mordechai, a holy Jewish site in the city of Hamedan, the city’s prosecutor said on Saturday.

“Hamedan’s police force has been pursuing this case for the past two days… no one has been arrested so far in connection with the fire,” Hassan Khanjani told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

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The shrine was set on fire Thursday, ISNA said, adding that it has not been majorly damages.

Earlier on Saturday, the official IRNA news agency denied, in a now-deleted report, that the shrine was subject to any attack.

The tomb of Esther and Mordechai is the most important pilgrimage site for the Jewish community in Iran. The building is believed to house the remains of the biblical Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai.

In 2010, members of the Basij militia – the paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – gathered in front of the tomb, threatening to destroy it should Israel destroy the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

“The torching of this Jewish holy site is reminiscent of the Nazis, who not only killed the living, but desecrated the dead,” The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization established in 1977 to confront antisemitism, said in a statement.

“The attack took place against the backdrop of the Mullahocracy’s drumbeat of genocidal hatred against the Jewish people, its state-sponsored policy of Holocaust denial and denigration. In such an environment a violent attack against Jews, Judaism, and Jewish heritage should surprise no one,” the statement added.

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