Iranian officials say a revered ancient Jewish site in the west central province of Hamedan, where the biblical queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai are believed to have been buried, has sustained minimal damage following a fire reported over the weekend.
The cause of the incident on May 15, which U.S. based Jewish groups have condemned as an “anti-Semitic” attack, is still not clear.
Authorities have said that the incident is being investigated.
Speaking on May 17 as he visited the site, the head of Tehran’s Jewish community Homayoun Somayeh said that the shrine of Esther and Mordechai is “completely intact,” adding that the incident has been “magnified and exaggerated” by the enemies of the Islamic republic.
“Religious minorities, especially Jews, live in this country under the shadow of the Islamic Republic and all-round support from the government, and are grateful for the services of the government and the system,” he was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Mehr news agency.
Ali Malmir, head of Hamedan’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism department, also said that no damage has been inflicted on the main tomb of Esther and Mordechai by a “limited fire” in a nearby building which was immediately extinguished.
He also said that some of the wires and a carpet in the side building were burned, while adding that the restoration of the site will start this week. He said that the cause of the fire will be announced as soon as determined.
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