Iranian mall blasted for decorations resembling ‘Jewish holiday’ celebration

Hanging fruit display in shopping center too similar to Jewish holiday decorations to be a coincidence, Iranian journalist charges.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An Iranian journalist criticized a Tehran mall for a festive display that included elements similar to those used on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, writing that the move was “promoting” a Jewish holiday and insinuating that it was done for nefarious reasons.

Fatima Karimi, who writes for the Mehr news agency, saw photos on social media of a local shopping center in Tehran that had been decorated for Yalda Night with a hanging canopy that included seasonal fruit.

Yalda Night is celebrated on the winter solstice, marking the longest night of the year, by Iranians, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris and other people in the region. It is a cultural holiday with no Islamic or other specific religious influences.

Decorating one’s home and eating traditional fruits, including watermelon and pomegranate, are standard rituals during the holiday. Each year, most commercial spaces in Iran invest in elaborate festive decorations marking the occasion.

But Karimi interpreted the aesthetic choice of hanging fruit overhead as being borrowed from traditional decorating practices during the Sukkot holiday.

“Although in our country, Iran, the freedom of official religions is accepted and people of different religions live together, combining one Iranian celebration with [a foreign holiday] in decorations can only distort it,” she wrote.

Karimi’s assertion that there is freedom of religion in Iran is questionable, as the Islamic Republic regularly executes those who leave Islam and religious minorities in the country have long complained of repression and discrimination.

“It should be asked whether the officials of a commercial complex are unaware of the recognition of this celebration or [are taking advantage of] the lack of awareness of citizens for a specific purpose,” the journalist added.

It’s unclear why Karimi believes that the mall owners would secretly expose Iranians to Jewish holiday decorations or how they could even benefit from such an act.

She called on the authorities to investigate why the mall had “promoted” the Jewish holiday by hanging fruit, and to determine the reason for “this holiday being celebrated along with Yalda.”