President Hassan Rouhani has hailed the Assyrian community's contribution to the country's development, expressing hope that their bonds with both Muslim and Christian communities will grow stronger.
"Assyrians in Iran have experienced the same suffering as other communities...and have fought against foreign aggression with their blood and treasure alongside the Iranian people without hesitating to help their country move forward," the president wrote in a message to Assyrians in reference to the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, IRNA reported.
His message was read during the Assyrian Universal Alliance World Congress in Beirut on Thursday by Ahmad Hosseini, the Iranian charge d'affaires in the Lebanese capital. The alliance is a leadership council comprised of representatives of Assyrian communities and organizations worldwide.
It was established in Pau, France, on April 13, 1968 to become a powerful voice for Assyrians, committing itself to spreading the Assyrian name around the world and working to secure human and national rights of the Assyrian people.
Message of Peace
Rouhani hailed the achievements of the alliance over five decades, saying that it had helped spread the message of peace, friendship and peaceful coexistence to the world.
"There is a special bond between Muslims and Christians because of religious affinities," the president said. "On behalf of the Iranian people and government, I hope we will witness closer relations and harmony between Assyrians and Muslims and Christians."
Lebanese officials as well representatives from other countries, including Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Sweden and New Zealand attended the congress.
In a separate message to the gathering, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said peaceful coexistence among followers of divine faiths in Iran is one of the achievements of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and can serve as an example for other nations.
The Assyrian community has always been respected by the Iranian nation, he said, adding that their religion is recognized by the Iranian Constitution as an official religion. Larijani criticized attempts by ill-wishers to incite religious hatred and conflict in the world and said all religious communities should join hands to help create a world free of violence.