End German-Iran twin-city deal due to antisemitism, Iranians demand

Iranian dissidents in Germany urged the southwestern city of Freiburg to pull the plug on its twin-city partnership with Isfahan.

A man holds up a poster of the late Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani next to a burning Israeli flag as Iranians attend a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022 (photo credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)
A man holds up a poster of the late Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani next to a burning Israeli flag as Iranians attend a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022
(photo credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)

The Iranian regime staged its annual al-Quds demonstration in the central city of Isfahan on Friday, calling for the abolition of the Jewish state.

Iranian dissidents in Germany urged the southwestern city of Freiburg to pull the plug on its twin-city partnership with Isfahan because of the outbreak of genocidal antisemitism targeting Israel, a day after Israel remembered the six million Jews murdered by Germans and their collaborators during WWII.

"The antisemitic al-Quds march of the Mullahs for the destruction of Israel will be propagated today with a picture of jihadi children on the way to Quds [Jerusalem]," said Dr. Kazem Moussavi, a German-Iranian dissident, who appealed to the mayor of Freiburg, Martin Horn, and the German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, to ban the partnership.

"Please end the anti-Israel partnership with the Isfahan administration that organizes and implements the al-Quds march to annihilate the democratic Jewish State of Israel," said Moussavi.

"We will see the demise of this child-killing regime [Israel] in less than 25 years," said Seyed Reza Mortazavi, the General Governor of Isfahan, on Friday.

 A protester punches his fist through an Israeli flag as Iranians burn flags during a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022 (credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS) A protester punches his fist through an Israeli flag as Iranians burn flags during a rally marking the annual Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan in Tehran, Iran April 29, 2022 (credit: WANA NEWS AGENCY/REUTERS)

The Iranian regime-controlled outlet Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the US-designated terrorist entity the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, showed demonstrators with signs declaring “down with Israel, down with the US.”

Moussavi termed the agreement between the university city of Freiburg and Isfahan a "scandalous Freiburg friendship with the antisemitic and Holocaust-denying mullah administration in Isfahan." He noted that at the start of the march, long-range rockets pointed in the direction of Israel were on display in Tehran.

Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled the Islamic Republic due to repression, told The Jerusalem Post that “The al-Quds s march, just one day after Yom Hashoah, in Isfahan is a strong blow to the democracy because Isfahan has a city partnership with democratic cities like Freiburg. Al Quds march in Iran is not just a demonstration, it calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State of Israel, the complete destruction of Israel and her people.”

She continued that "the rulers of the Islamic Republic in Isfahan must be punished for this. Freiburg could end her partnership with Isfahan to say ‘never again’ loudly.

To understand Al Quds march in Iran, you must know why these people who you see in the pictures and videos have participated in this demonstration. 2,379,151 people [in Iran] work with the government and all of them are obligated to participate in each and every religious and political ceremony and demonstration if they don't want to lose their jobs."

She said that “I talked to the former government employees and asked them about the participation in al-Quds march. An employee in a government office with a higher position will be investigated for not participating in the demonstrations like al-Quds and if it happens continuously it will become a grave and dangerous issue for the employee. A normal employee will lose their job.

It's also necessary to know the benefits for the participants. The participants will be paid overtime hours. It makes it easier for them to get a loan and many other benefits like promotion. The students are also obligated to participate in al-Quds march.”

Vojoudi, who lives in Germany, said that “I believe it's very important to know that the people you see in the pictures are not there because of al-Quds day, they're just there because many of them have no other choice.

Believe me, there will be no al-Quds  demonstration in Iran if these people were not under pressure.”

The Israeli government's Farsi language Twitter account wrote “Quds day vs. the other 364 days of the year.” Pictures showed protestors against Israel on one side and Iran’s regime repressing protestors on the other side. 

Martin Horn, the mayor of Freiburg, who has defended the city’s partnership with Isfahan, did not respond to a Post query. The founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, inaugurated Al-Quds Day in 1979 as a worldwide demonstration to call for the destruction of the Jewish state.

Freiburg is the only German city to maintain a city partnership with the Iranian regime-controlled metropolis.

The Post sent a press query to Ulrike Becker, a spokeswoman for Stop the Bomb, a German organization seeking to stop Tehran’s illicit nuclear program and improve the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic. Stop the Bomb did not immediately respond.

The Islamic Republic News Agency wrote on Thursday that the communication department  of  Mortazavi, the general governor of Isfahan, said in a  message: “World Al-Quds Day was decorated to commemorate the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque… from the clutches of the evil child-killing and usurping Zionist regime.”

According to Iran Metropolis News Agency, Mortazavi said at Imam Khomeini Square in Isfahan that "Attending the Quds Day march has been established as a duty for the people of Islamic Iran.” He continued that the conditions of the Zionist regime, which Imam Khomeini described as a cancerous tumor, are declining.

Video footage from IRIB news in Isfahan showed elementary school students of Shahid Chiti School in Isfahan who made a drawing of Jerusalem and attacked Israel.

The US state department has classified Iran’s regime as the world’s worst state sponsor of terrorism and antisemitism.

In December, the Post first reported that the University of Freiburg suspended its partnership with the University of Isfahan in 2019 because of “growing political conflicts in Iran” as well as conflicts in “bilateral educational cooperation between Iran and Germany.”

The Post located a webpage in Persian on the University of Isfahan’s website that showcases and celebrates the annual al-Quds rally that urges the elimination of the Jewish state. The webpage shows an al-Quds demonstration against Israel from 2021.

Isfahan is a hotbed of Holocaust denial. In 2016, the Islamic Association of the University of Isfahan announced a Holocaust cartoon contest that has in the past mocked the Shoah and denied the existence of the Holocaust.

Freiburg’s city is participating in a “citizens’ trip” to Isfahan in May.  According to a description of the trip, is to enable an “impression of today's living environment in our partner city Isfahan.”

The Post sent press queries to Moustafa El-Kady, an organizer of the trip to Isfahan, and to the Freiburg city email for the partnership. 

Separately, Moussavi and other Iranian dissidents are planning a demonstration in May against the Berlin branch of the international law firm Greenberg Traurig because of its work for the Iranian regime's former ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati. Amnesty International said Mahallati, who teaches at Oberlin College in Ohio, committed crimes against humanity for his role in the cover-up of the mass murder of 5,000 Iranian political prisoners in 1988.

In an email statement to the Post in 2020, Mahallati denied the allegation. Iranian dissidents want Charles Birenbaum, a part-owner of Greenberg Traurig and an Oberlin College trustee, to intervene in the dispute and urge Oberlin College's president Carmen Twillie Ambar to meet with victims' families.

Iranians are staging global protests against the offices of Greenberg Traurig in the US, UK and Germany. Iranian-Americans and human rights activists have demanded that Oberlin College fire Mahallati.