DW: IRAN Christian cementary under threat in Iran!
Tehran's south is home to Iran's largest Christian cemetery guarded by one elder Muslim. But investors have cast an eye on the property, the city's authorities have revoked the permit and the cemetery is rotting away. Mr Ahmadi stands in front of one of the graves on a Christian cemetery in Tehran 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 Tehran'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 tombstones here than he does. "Not even the president has many graves as I do," he says. It's spring in the city. People hustle and bustle in the streets, while diplomats from seven European countries have gathered at the Austrian embassy in Tehran's wealthy north to discuss the future of Ahmadi's cemetery, which has come under threat from the city's construction boom. Saving the cemetery: 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 dead ears with authorities," Karpati says. That's why they have decided to set up an internet website to inform the public. Narrow streets with two-story buildings covered in sandy bricks lead up to the Doulab cemetery. The roadside ditch carries a dirty stream full of trash from the city. Men sit in parks, stretch their legs and spit out sunflower seed husks. Every now and then dice roll over their backgammon board. They then move their checkers, the air is dry and smells like exhaust fumes. The iron gate at the cemetery squeaks loudly as Ahmadi opens it. He sticks out his head, his smile reveals black teeth. Siavesh Rastegar came here to visit the grave of his grandmother. He enters the cemetery and Ahmadi shuts the door behind him. Rastegar works as an architect, he studied at the renowned Architectual Association School of Architecture in London and has done research on the cemetery's history. "The first burial was in 1855," he says. "Dr Louis Cloquet, a Frenchman, he was the personal physician for 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.