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Iran an Exemplar of Peace for Religious Minorities

Iran an Exemplar of Peace for Religious Minorities Iran an Exemplar of Peace for Religious Minorities

The peace and harmony ensured by Iran for its religious minorities is exemplary in the region, said Thomas Meram, the Archbishop of Assyrians, Chaldean and Catholics in the country, at a church ceremony to mark Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ (PBUH) on Thursday.

The ceremony was held in the Naneh Maryam or Mart Maryam (Holy Mary) Church in Urumia, West Azarbaijan Province, one of the oldest churches in the world (built in 32 AC) and the first church in the East, based on some records, in the presence of a number of provincial officials and Islamic personalities, IRNA reported.

Referring to Iran as a refuge for religious minorities since ages, the Archbishop expressed pleasure to be residing in a peaceful country and regretted the threats posed by the ISIS militants to Christians and Muslims in the neighboring countries of Iraq and Syria.

Ayatollah Seyyed Aliakbar Qarshi, the representative of the West Azarbaijan Province in the Assembly of Experts, said “Jesus belongs to not only Christians but to all humanity.”

Pointing to the high status of Christ in Islam and the Holy Qur’an, the cleric said: “There is a whole single chapter in the Qur’an dedicated to the story of holy Mary and Jesus.”

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran observes the rights of religious minorities, and Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians have seats reserved in the country’s parliament, he pointed out.

 Largest Minority

Later in the event, Yonathan Betkolia, representative of Assyrians in the parliament, while attesting to the peace enjoyed by minorities in the country, pointed to the treaty concluded 1400 years ago, between Imam Ali (AS) - the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who ruled the Islamic Caliphate from 656 to 661 - and the Christian minorities as an exemplar of peace charter for the world.

Today, Armenians are Iran’s largest Christian religious minority. It is commonly noted that, since their migration to the Persian Empire centuries ago, Iranian Armenians have culturally assimilated with their Persian compatriots in a noticeable way and have adopted a number of their traditions while simultaneously keeping their distinct Christian and Armenian faith and identity.