(JTA) — Iranian authorities have downgraded the status of the tomb of Esther and Mordechai, while an official state news agency has publicized the Purim story as a Jewish massacre of Iranians.
Officials recently removed the sign that identified the mausoleum of the biblical figures in the central Iranian city of Hamadan as an official pilgrimage site. The removal of the sign signifies that its status has been downgraded, according to reports.
The actions come about two weeks after a group of about 250 militant students surrounded the tomb and threatened to tear it down in response to alleged Israeli excavations under the Al-Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The Iranian state news agency Fars has been reporting that Esther and Mordechai were responsible for the massacre of more than 75,000 Iranians as recorded in the Book of Esther, read on Purim.
The reports, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center citing Fars, also call the tomb an arm of Israeli imperialism; report that its name must be wiped away in order to teach Iranian children to “beware of the crimes of the Jews”; and call for the shrine’s return to the Iranian people.