The international effort to bring a largely recalcitrant German city council in Freiburg to freeze its partnership with the Iranian regime in the city of Isfahan led to a victory on Tuesday for Iranian dissidents and a small political party who have campaigned since 2020 for the abolition of the partnership.
In a major setback to the pro-partnership mayor Martin Horn of Freiburg, the 48 members of the city council demanded that the mayor “neither seek nor respond to contacts with representatives of the political system in Iran and to only maintain contacts that serve the purpose of civic exchange. The parliamentary groups condemn the human rights violations in Iran and express their solidarity with the Iranian women in Freiburg and Isfahan, who are fighting against the oppression of women in Iran.”
Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled to Germany to escape persecution, told The Jerusalem Post that “It’s definitely a positive move towards defending human rights in Iran. Our efforts are meant to hinder the brutality of the regime in Iran and its vast arms of terror in the region and also in Europe.”
Vojoudi, a fellow at the Gold Institute for International Strategy who played a key role in campaigning against the twin city partnership, added, “I personally request that Freiburg take responsibility for its long-term partnership with Isfahan, the city of Toomaj Salehi, the Iranian rapper who has been in solitary confinement since his arrest in the recent Iranian uprising by the regime.”
She added that “supporting Isfahan’s civilians means fighting for their rights and saving them from execution.”
German-Iranian dissident Kazem Moussavi, who also played a significant role in the campaign to pull the plug on the partnership, told the Post that the freezing of the partnership “is a big defeat for the Iranian regime but also for the appeasement policy in Freiburg. It took place at a time when the Iranian people expect support against the regime.”
He added that “It has been worthwhile to constantly protest against the Freiburg twin city partnership with the antisemitic mullahs’ administration in Isfahan over the years. Thanks for your support.”
German civil servant faces criticism over alleged antisemitism
Moussavi, the spokesman for the Green party in exile, said that “I am also disappointed in Mr. [Michael] Blume who abandoned the people in Iran and Israel in the fight against antisemitism.”
Iranian dissidents and pro-Israel activists faced opposition from the allegedly antisemitic civil servant, Blume, who is assigned to fight Iranian antisemitism and hatred of Israel in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where Freiburg is located. A German court in Hamburg ruled in January that Blume can be termed antisemitic due to his statements against German Jews and a father of the IDF, Orde Wingate.
The Post reported in April 2022 that Iranians demanded that Freiburg end its partnership with Isfahan due to the Iranian city’s annual al-Quds rally calling for the destruction of Israel.
Blume refused to call for the end of the partnership and the Simon Wiesenthal Center classified Blume as antisemitic in 2021 for his failure to condemn the partnership, among other alleged anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activities. Blume lashed out on Twitter at Iranian dissidents as “’corrupt exiled nationalists” who oppose the dictatorship in Iran and the Freiburg-Isfahan partnership.
Iranian dissidents and pro-Israel activists faced opposition since 2021 from all of the major parties in the city council (with the exception of the tiny JUPI party) and mayor Horn, as well initially from the German-Israel Friendship Association (DIG) in Freiburg
“In view of the human rights violations that have been practiced in Iran for years, but are now becoming internationally visible through the courageous demonstrations against the regime, this step is long overdue,” the JUPI city councilman Simon Waldenspuhl said about the joint statement opposing the partnership.
The JUPI parliamentary group said in a statement it “will continue to critically monitor the twin city partnership with Isfahan. Political relations can only be resumed when Iran observes basic human rights, no longer oppresses women, no longer politically persecutes homosexuals and also fundamentally recognizes Israel’s right to exist.”The JUPI was the only party to consistently criticize the Freiburg-Isfahan partnership over years due to the Iranian regime’s Holocaust denial and its genocidal antisemitism targeting Israel.
After social media outrage and German and Israeli media queries to the DIG in 2021, the group issued a tweet urging the city to freeze the partnership. The DIG is funded by the German foreign ministry.
The monthly German Jewish newspaper Jewish Review ( Jüdische Rundschau) published a series of investigative reports, including by the reporter of this article, on the partnership. Isfahan is a major center for the reported construction of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and a hub for missile production.
The publisher of the Jewish Review Rafael Korenzecher and its editor-in-chief Laila Mirzo, as well as the previous editor-in-chief Simon Akstinat, prioritized hard-hitting journalism and commentaries about the controversial partnership.
In 2022, the clerical regime said it plans to build a new research reactor at its nuclear site in the Isfahan Province. “This is an entirely domestic project that will close the chain of research, evaluation, testing, and production of nuclear energy in Iran,” Mohammad Eslami, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted by the Iranian regime-controlled ISNA news agency.
Germany’s government zealously supports the Iran nuclear deal that would permit Iran to build a nuclear weapons device after the expiration of the agreement. In exchange for suspending its work on an atomic program, Germany and the other world powers (China, the US, Russia, England, and France) are prepared to provide Tehran with over $100 billion in economic sanctions relief.
Israeli Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a former Strategic Affairs ministry director-general, told the Post in mid-January: “Having a twin city [partnership] controlled by the Iranian regime that executes protesters and mobilizes the world to wipe Israel off the map can’t be explained by a German city. That should not have happened.”
Kuperwasser added that “those who stand behind the Freiburg and Isfahan partnership can’t be considered as people who act against antisemitism.”
Source » jpost