Wednesday 20 February 2008
Iran’s Zoroastrian community has shrunk by half to 45,000 people since the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution, as members of the ancient faith search for jobs and a better future in the West, their MP said on Wednesday.
«I’m personally worried and I would want the community to return», said Koroush Niknam, who represents the pre-Islamic religion in Iran’s 290-seat legislature and has registered to stand for re-election in a March 14 parliamentary poll.
«Iran is our birth place … our prophet was born in this country», he told Reuters referring to the faith’s founder Zoroaster.
Zoroastrians, who now live mainly in Tehran or the central desert city of Yazd, see life as more and more oppressing.
The U.S. State Department said in a 2007 report that all religious minorities suffered varying degrees of discrimination in Iran, particularly in employment, education and housing.
Niknam said there were problems with Iranian legislation under which a member of a minority religion who converts to Islam gets all the family inheritance. «What do you think will happen to the family? It will be undermined», he said.