September 28th, 2013
10:03 PM ET

Ciamak Morsadegh on being Jewish in Iran

Watch the full interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with Ciamak Morsadegh, the only Jewish member of parliament in Iran.

Do you feel, as a Jew in Iran, do you feel persecuted in any way?

Of course. Being a Jewish minority in a religious country has some problems. But after the revolution, step by step, our problems are being solved. Today, our condition is better than yesterday. And today, our condition is much better than 10 years or 20 years ago.

Are you allowed to worship freely, go to synagogue, observe religious days and occasions?

For religious freedom, Iran is one of the most free countries. You can go to synagogue. We can have our ceremonies. We have kosher butchery. In Tehran, there is more than 10 kosher butcheries, five kosher restaurants. We have our specific school. There is today more than five Jewish schools in Tehran, and our children are completely free to go to Jewish school or public school.

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Topics: GPS Show • Iran

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. john smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • David from England

      Wow – with viewers like this, it is little wonder that Fareed feels emboldened to press his pro-Iran propaganda through his program.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • Eliu

        it's true – U.S. govt, their Western puppets and despots in the Third World have killed millions. They also orchestrated the coup which removed Iran's democratically elected president, backed the barbaric Shah, helped Saddam gas Iranians, and support the pseudo Marxist MEK terrorist group. But you're a typical anti-Iran troll, so I will refrain from handing you any more crumbs.

        September 30, 2013 at 12:55 am |
      • Mehrdad from Tehran

        Have you ever even traveled here (Iran) for once? I've read all of your comments here, you have put western propaganda as your main source. that's why you're (not totally but) mostly wrong about what Iran is.

        October 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  2. Behzad

    I just watched the piece on GPS with the Iranian Jewish Parliamentarian. It behoves me to add that Iran is NOT a free nor a democratic society when it comes to religious minorities as the guest of the program espoused repeatedly. At the end of the program, the program stated that the Jews make up less than one percent of the Iranian population, making them the smallest religious minority in Iran. The biggest religious minority in Iran, namely the Bahai'is of Iran have been the target of government for the past 3 decades. Hundreds have been summarily executed simply because of their religious belief. Bahais are not allowed to own businesses, their children cannot attend higher education, their properties have been confiscated, even their grave yards have been destroyed. I am sure Mr. Zakaria would have liked to interview the leadership of the Bahai Community of Iran, but all seven of them have been in jail for over 3 years after a mock trial!

    September 29, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • David from England

      But you must surely understand that Fareed's editorial policy is to present Iran positively, not to show its ugly truth. See my post on why I found this interview so barbaric and evil-serving. I shall not watch Fareed's program again – I dislike such bias and twisted journalism. I recognize propaganda when I see it, and I can differentiate Fareed's propaganda from genuine news.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Sh

      I was just going to mention Bahais as a group of people who have suffered the most only because of their religion in that "free country" of Mr. Mosadegh's but you said it well. I grew up in Mashhad. We had a Bahai neighbor who got executed and I also knew a number of Bahai youngsters who were not allowed to pursue higher educations. I am amazed how shamelessly they are trying to conceal the truth in this program!

      September 30, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • Mahmoud

      The situation of Bahai's in Iran is a very complicated one. Even in Shah's Era, they were not completely free and their followers tried to conceal their belief. Their story is being folded with UK and Israel, which are not popular countries among Iranians (officials or ordinary people). The founder of Bahais faith, Ali Mohammad Baab, has been executed by one of the most popular Iranian official in history (Amir Kabir). So there are tremendous pitfalls and mistrust which should be considered when we are speaking about Bahaism in Iran.

      October 1, 2013 at 1:04 am |
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Amazing how tolerant Iran seems to be in religious issues compared to some Sunni Muslim countries, that pursue the ultra conservative Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • David from England

      Not true – it's only a question of degrees of intolerance. Fareed would have us believe that the mullahs are OK, that they're reasonable people after all. When an Iranian-originated conspiracy led to dozens of Argentine Jewish children being murdered by a bomb, this I think shows the true face of Iran.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  4. David from England

    What a disgraceful interview this was – what is Fareed's agenda? To "prove" that the Iranian regime – seemingly planning the next Holocust – is not really a threat?

    Fareed, you must know that this man had to say he wasn't a Zionist & that he would defend Iran from a defensive Israeli strike – if not, what would happen to his family and relatives? And to himself?

    Your program is acting as an Iranian mouthpiece. Shame on you, Fareed. You enjoy the benefits of living in the secular, free West and yet you use your position to propagate and defend the views of the Iranian mullahs. I shall not watch your show again.

    September 29, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Mariann

      I wholeheartedly agree. I was disturbed by this interview and outraged by possible Fareed Zakaria’s motives. It reminded me of interviews by western media of prominent Jewish cultural leaders of the Soviet Union when they are pushing the soviet propaganda because otherwise they would risk their families and associates’ lives and livelihood as they were kept hostages at home and depended on what the poor puppet would say. Clearly, Fareed is pursuing the CNN’s agenda. I met Iranian Jews who came to the US as refugees. Maybe Freed should give them a chance to describe the horrors of religious and ethnic persecution that escaped? How cynical all of a sudden to announce this tyrannical and religiously intolerant regime a democratic heaven for religious minorities just when it is needed politically. This is not what we came to expect from CNN.

      September 29, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • David from England

        You are 100% right. My only doubt is whether CNN's top brass encourage this approach or if Fareed is too clever for them, dancing around them so they only see what they wish to believe -a "tolerant" and "unprejudiced" reporting. If so, Fareed is bamboozling CNN's executives, as well as his viewers.

        September 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • sadli ali

      you are too hysterical!!
      it's seem you dance too much with Jewish song and western dance.
      dont be too naive with all the news from your own paper,you ended with sleepless night .
      everywhere things are all fine until you interpreted otherwise.

      September 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  5. David from England

    Fareed, I must press this point and I hope you or your staff read these posts. What if Morsadegh had opened up on the truth? Would his family and friends await the dreaded knock at the door in the middle of the night, to be thrown into the mullahs' torture & execution prisons? You bet.

    Either you are hugely naive or you are deliberately manipulating your program to satisfy a twisted political agenda. So – you seem to be saying – Morsadegh's a happy guy, therefore the mullahs are not planning to destroy Israel and its Jews. So – it's all OK, then? Let's turn a blind eye, as we did with Hitler in the mid- to late-1930s? Does the CNN top brass really understand the "message" your program is sending out? If so, heaven help us all.

    September 29, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  6. Valerie

    I must concur with David from England about Fareed's irresponsible interview with Ciamak Morsadegh. Fareed did not challenge the Rabbi on any of his responses (lies). My partner of 13 years is Iranian and he is from a Jewish/Christian family. His father's family was originally Jewish but converted to Christianity because of the persecution he and his family had endured. Believe it or not, the Christians weren't as persecuted as harshly as the Jews? In addition, Christians were allowed far more advantages, i.e., education, jobs, than Jews. Needless to say, most of the family sought aslyum here in the U.S. to escape the religious persecution Have things changed? Ask a Jewish person that is not tied to the Ayatollah's regime and you will get an entirely different response than the Rabbi's. My partner's mother, who just happens to be a U.S. citizen now, goes back to Iran to visit her remaining family there and does not practice her religion in fear of what may happen to her if she does. Religious freedom? I don't think so.

    September 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • David from England

      There is a pattern, though, to Fareed's views. When he talks of Kashmir his sympathy is with the anti-India Muslim "insurgents" – as though India is an occupying force in its own country. I think he automatically supports Islamic groups and countries against "the other", be in the US, Israel or India. But in this interview he went toon far, over-reaching himself. What I watched today was not journalism, it was pure propaganda.

      September 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  7. 100 % ETHIO

    What do the Jewish want from others vs what the Jewish does/are doing EVIL against others!!??

    We seen Jewish evils, Snakes,...

    September 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  8. sand

    k i l l that dog jew soon he is going to get shot trought the face with a rifle.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  9. sand

    kill that dog jew soon he is going to get shot trought the face with a rifle.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  10. Roslyn green

    Everyone knows the Jews are hostages in Iran, including fareed. Everyone knows Sudan Rice will spout any lie to support the administration. Everyone knows that journalists must support the administration and be anti Israel. Everyone knows that the reformers in turkey were not radicals. Don't expect real journalism from CNN. This is just propaganda. For a cynical transformation of America.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • David from England

      You're right.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  11. Chagrined

    Ciamak Morsadegh's comments were so refreshing.

    The majority of the deniers of the Holocaust are Jews. Every Holocaust Remembrance Memorial Ceremony at our White House, where Elie Wiesel usually speaks. It was interesting that only six candles were lit for the six million Jews, when there were eleven million people who died in the Holocaust, only six million of whom were Jewish. Is there no remembrance or reverence for the five million who died who were not Jewish? How incredibly insensitive of Jews to be so selfish to honor only the Jews who died in the Holocaust.

    September 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • David from England

      If Fareed is pandering to people like you, then CNN and US political discourse is in serious, serious trouble.

      September 29, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  12. Jawdy

    This interview is wonderful. I am happy to see someone who is showing all sides of an issue; further removing war propaganda which does not serve any human's interests. Keep up the good work. As they say "Haters' gonna hate". I will continue to watch this show for as long as it broadcasts.

    September 29, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  13. solrobinson

    A token paraded out to distract the world from the fact that the vast majority of Iranian jews fled for their lives after the 1979 revolution. A community of a hundred thousand diminished to 20 thousand at highest estimates, official numbers are at 8 thousand.

    September 29, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  14. Raaf

    Guess who was behind that coup? The US. Fellow Americans quit being to stupid please.

    September 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  15. Demba Ndiaye

    You cannot live in the past and all fears and doubts associated with it... Time and mindsets change so must we... The first time ever US reconnected with Iran through is newly elected leader should open doors to a renewed optimism over board...

    Public opinion is so opinionated over Iran and the Middle East to the extent that anything in a new positive light is constricted to media bias... Fareed asked questions and the jewish iranian parliamentary spoke with a transcript running on the screen... what else could he say that is not out of spontaneity?

    Stop living in the past if you want to move on...

    That interview is ABSOLUTELY groundbreaking onto the unspoken truth overshadowed by decades of Iran-US imbroglio featured by some media... If CNN says it's true as the saying goes... why an exception this time?

    September 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  16. eggplant

    where is the rest of the interview? this is not all of it. why will CNN not post the interview in its entirety?

    September 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  17. Afshin jam Afshin

    Fareed is not the same since he retuend from Iran. He has lost his investigative journalistic professionalism. Is he expecting ttnis gentlmqn to tell the truth while the entire regime is watching him! Why he was brought up to NY? Are you guys naive to think he was briefed before no got in the same chartered plane flying with Rouhani? He was handed the questions long before interview, and he practiced in watchful eyes of Nasij, Sepah and all intelligent services.
    Once Jewish population in Iran was the highest after Israel, what's now?. To be fair to uneducated TV audiences, Fareed should have had another Iranian-Jewish who fled Iran as a counter balance. If Fareed is really concerned abut minorities, why not interview a Sunni , a Bahaei, a Christian or even better an underground convert to Christianity .. I am honestly disappointed, this is a travesty of journalism. I hope he goes back to his basis.

    September 30, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  18. John

    I agree that this is propaganda yet amazed that there is a Jewish parliamentarian in Iran. Is there a Christian or Jewish member of Parliament in Saudi arabia, our best friend in the Muslim world? Just checking.

    September 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Kris

      You're absolutely correct. SA is one of the biggest abusers of religious freedom in the Middle East but as long as they have oil being pumped out of the ground by U.S. companies we look the other way.

      September 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  19. SOLO

    thats right...iranians are not nazi german's.

    September 30, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Bob

    Unbelievable commentary. Fareed, I cannot believe you let this got to print.

    September 30, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  21. Maurice

    Is this a joke? Is Fared so naive? Morsadegh is part of the Iranian parliament, how can he say anything against the Islamist government? But Fared is not stupid. Obviously he has a different agenda.

    September 30, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
  22. Altee11

    If Iran supports Jews in its country, then why has the population of Jews shrunken so much?
    The Middle East has seen groups seeking to push all non-Muslims out of the region for centuries now, especially picking up in the past 15 years.

    October 1, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  23. s. dabby

    I believe the comments are disingenuous and need to be viewed in the context of Iran’s intolerance.
    My family lived in Iran during the era of the Shah and we felt uncertain about our safety. Things have only become worse. After the departure of my family, a Presbyterian Missionary School in Tehran that I attended was shut down in 1979. The school was founded in the early 1900’s and grew through many governments.
    There are increasing stories about Baha’i’s being jailed and executed.
    Most recently a convert from Islam to Christianity was sentenced to death.
    And finally, the mantra – Death to America and Death to Israel continues.
    The blind spot of the government of Iran is that the long term threat to Iran will come from Israel, America, Jews, or Baha’i’s. Not true. It will come from within as the young population pushes for increased personal freedom – they want to be able to listen to music, go to coffee shops, have access to the internet, use Facebook, Twitter – maybe go to a party once in a while. The young ladies may want to dress in the latest fashions.

    October 1, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  24. saeid

    i cannot imagine why "david from england" spreads anti-iranian hatred !!

    iran is a free . democratic country , advanced and civilized nation!! no matter how much u hate iran , jews have Parliament seats , are free to practice their religion !!! what about uk??

    go figure ......

    October 4, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
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