Friday, August 9, 2013

Classic arselifter: whine about graveyards in the West while in Teheran, investors want to turn a decaying Christian graveyard into a park

Mr Ahmadi stands in front of one of the graves on a Christian cemetery in Teheran and can't believe his eyes. There's yet another broken tombstone. Last fall, there hadn't been a single sign of a crack
"Bloody cold," he mumbles to himself and continues his morning round at the graveyard
Ahmadi has been guarding this Christian cemetery in Teheran's Darvazeh Doulab neighborhood for the past 15 years. He watches over the huge iron gate at the entrance and takes care of duties like cutting grass. No one knows more about the tombstones here than he does

The entrance gates. Diplomats from seven European countries have gathered at the Austrian embassy in Teheran's wealthy north to discuss the future of the Doulab cemetery, which has come under threat from the city's construction boom

The Europeans have decided to save the graveyard. "Something needs to be done", says Miklos Karpati, a Catholic priest in Teheran. According to reports by the Christian Iranian news agency Mohabat there have been numerous cases of vandalism targeting Christian monuments and places of worship in Iran
"This kind of destruction is not exceptional. But complaints about it just falls on deaf ears with authorities," Karpati says. That's why they have decided to set up an internet website to inform the public

"The first burial was in 1855," says Siavesh Rastegar, whose grandmother is buried there. "Dr Louis Cloquet, a Frenchman, he was the personal physician for [Iranian King] Nasereddin Shah. And since there was no cemetery for Catholics at the time, the shah built him a mausoleum"
Europeans were highly regarded in Iran at the time. The royal court wanted to profit from technical advances and the sciences. Differences in terms of religion were not a problem at all
Until 1996, the cemetery was used by Christian parishes and eventually covered an area the size of seven soccer pitches. The city's authorities then pulled the cemetery's license - now, it runs the risk of slowly rotting away

The cemetery's five sections host deceased from different Christian confessions: Armenian-Catholic, Armenian-Gregorian, Assyrian-Chaldean, Orthodox and Roman Catholic. They all used to be part of a religious minority when they were still alive
Karpati, the Christian priest, has been working towards restoring the permit for a long time
Investors want to convert the graveyard into a park instead
News report here.