B R E A K I N G   N E W S : The Director-General of UNESCO has committed to discuss this serious situation with the Iranian representative, even though the Tomb of Esther and Mordecai is not a World Heritage site. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre will follow the developments of this case.

“Ironically, a new Haman is now ruling Iran in a reign of terror,”..."If this pernicious threat remains on the table, both Tehran and Ramallah must be suspended in view of their violation of the UNESCO Charter.”

Paris, 20 February 2020

In a letter to UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, the Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, called “to invoke the UNESCO mandate to protect sites of universal importance in time of conflict, in regard to the Iranian regime’s threat to destroy the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamadan, a historic shrine holy to Judaism and Christianity.”

The Wiesenthal Centre had learned of the Iranian Basij (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) plan to desecrate the tomb and place on its ruins a Palestinian consulate.

The letter noted that, “on 9 March, the Feast of Purim will recount the 4th century B.C.E. story of the love between the King of the Persian empire and the Jewish girl Esther. The antisemitic Prime Minister, Haman, had planned to exterminate all the Jews of Persia - now Iran. This proto-Holocaust was stopped by the King when informed by Esther and cousin Mordechai. Haman was hanged and a royal decree granted the Jews safety.”

“Ironically, a new Haman is now ruling Iran in a reign of terror,” added Samuels, who urged the Director-General “to convoke the Iranian and Palestinian representatives to UNESCO to ensure that this outrage is stopped sine die.”

The letter argued that, “this is but one example of the contempt held for religious minorities in both these jurisdictions.”

If this pernicious threat remains on the table, both Tehran and Ramallah must be suspended in view of their violation of the UNESCO Charter,” concluded the Centre.