President Ahmadinejad welcomes Metropolitan Mar Gewargis Sliwa at the Presidential Palace.
In a meeting in Tehran with one of the leaders of the Assyrian Church of the East on Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the salvation of mankind and the establishment of peace and tranquility in the world was the aim of all divine prophets.
"Today, (we) the followers of divine prophets, including those of the prophets Moses and Jesus and the Prophet of Islam, must link hands and, by following their teachings, realize the wishes of these prophets," Ahmadinejad told Mar Gewargis Sliwa, the Metropolitan of all Iraq and Russia, who is on a visit to Iran from his seat in Baghdad.
Pointing to the ancient history of the Assyrians, Ahmadinejad said, "The Assyrian civilization is one of the main axes of the Eastern civilization, and the people of the region have deep historic, emotional, and cultural ties with the Assyrian people.
"In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the (followeres of the) Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Zoroastrian faiths live fraternally alongside each other."
He blamed the "devils" for preventing the creation of a world based on peace and tranquility and said, "Experience has shown that whenever the faithful have joined together, the devils have been put to flight, especially now that the devils have been weakened and they have been defeated in (their goal) of consolidating control over the world."
In reply, Metropolitan Mar Gewargis Sliwa said that the Assyrians who live in Iran enjoy greater respect and social welfare compared with other parts of the world.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran looks upon the Assyrians like a father, and this is worthy of recognition and gratitude. Iran considers all peoples special, particularly the Assyrians, and the peace and respect that the Assyrians enjoy as well as the attention that the Cultural Heritage (Tourism and Handicrafts Organization) pays to churches, are indicative of the depth of the Islamic Republic of Iran for these peoples."
The Assyrians are one of the ancient residents of Iran, and today number about 20,000. They are mainly Christian, although there are some Muslim Assyrians, too.
The Assyrian Christian community has one guaranteed seat in the Majlis (Iranian parliament).