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Khosrow Naghi
Jewish Representatives to the Parliament

Khosrow Naghi


 

Khosrow Naghi was born in 1946 C.E., the month of Khordad, 1325 of the Persian calendar, to a religious and cultured Jewish family of Tehran.

His father, Habibollah Naghi, was among the first to graduate from the School of Law at Tehran University. He was a hard-working and well-reputed lawyer of the Jewish community, and the founder of the Jewish Cultural Center. His paternal ancestor, the late Soleiman “Solomon” Naghi, was a successful merchant, and the first to import a medical tablets factory, including Aspirin, to the country.

His maternal ancestor, Shlomo Kohan-Sedgh “Cohen-Tzedek”, also known as Sultan Soleiman “Solomon”, was among the prominent philanthropists of the Jewish community. By profession, he was a ranking figure in the Iranian rural police force known as the Gendarmerie. Yet, despite his very busy life, he dedicated most of his years to non-profit philanthropic endeavors in various cultural and social areas. A Judeo-Persian historian, Shlomo Kohan-Sedgh also served as the Director of the entire Otzar Ha-Torah school system. He also founded and published the quadruple-calendar of the monotheist religions, which presented the Hebrew, Persian-Zoroastrian, Christian and Islamic-Arabic calendars side by side of each other.

Khosrow Naghi studied at the Ettehad “Alliance” Primary and Junior High and at Fakhr-e Razi High Schools, majoring in Persian literature. In 1963, he passed the Tehran University entrance exam and was accepted into the jurisprudence program. He graduated in 1968 with honors, at which time he was drafted to serve the national service.

Having fulfilled the draft, he pursued his graduate studies toward the Masters degree in law. In 1971, he started internship as an attorney, i.e. as a member of the Iranian Lawyers Center. In 1973, he earned the Grade A Permit to practice law.

Even as a student, and due to his interest in cultural and social services, Khosrow Naghi had already begun his social activities as a member of Sazeman-e Danesh-jouyan, i.e. “The Iranian Jewish University Students Organization. In particular, he took part in the literary and artistic committees of the Organization and offered speeches on poetry, literature and jurisprudence. Besides, with a knowledge of the old and modern styles of poetry, he composed his own share of poems. He also volunteered for awhile as an announcer for the youth program of the Iranian National Radio.

From 1971 to 1978, Khosrow Naghi served in the Environmental Protection Agency of Iran, as an expert in law, and later on, as the Vice Legal Dirctor of the Agency. Concurrently, he taught the fundamentals of law and the environmental law at the Advanced School for the Environment.

Awhile later, he resgined from his post at the Agency and focused on his private legal practice as an independent lawyer. In this capacity, he consistently tried his best to defend the oppressed and to have the rights of the wronged innocent implemented.

Following the success of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, then Islamic Parliament did not confirm Isaac Farahmand, the first elected Representative of the Jewish community to the Parliament. Thus, in 1981, by the advice of his friends and by the request of some of the Jewish community philanthropists, Khosrow Naghi ran in the mid-term elections, and by 76.7% of the votes, without a contestant, he earned the Jewish MP seat in the Iranian Parliament. It should be noted that ever since the Constitutional Period, and through the Parliamentary history of Iran, Khosrow Naghi has been the youngest person to win a seat at the Parliament.

As a Member of the Parliament, Khosrow Naghi was chosen to the Bureaucratic and Employment Affairs Commission, in which capacity, together with his fellow Commission Members, he followed through many crucial responsibilities.Without a doubt, Khosrow Naghi’s term in the Islamic Parliament has been known as one of the busiest Parliamentary terms for the religious minority Representatives, especially since the success of the Revolution in the winter of 1979 C.E., the month of Bahman, 1357 of the Persian calendar, and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Khosrow Naghi began his term even as the Iraq-Iran war was imposed on the country, a catastrohphe just added to the seditious acts of the anti-revolutionary groups, rebellions throughout the country, assassination plots, executions, and sabotage. An unsafe atmosphere had spread all over the country, and the Jewish community could not remain exempt from the pervasive insecurity. By then, most of the public servants and socially involved figures of the Jewish community had resigned from their posts, and the cultural and social institutions of the community had to undergo some changes.

The majority of the Jewish community were unaware of the policies of the Islamic Republic and the direction it was taking. Neither were they aware of its achievements towards the religious minorities. Understandably, the situation worried them about their future and left them in a state of uncertainty. A shadow of fear had spread all over the society, and the growing rush to leave their homeland behind was intensifying among the Jewish people.

In 1981 C.E., the month of Aban, 1360 of the Persian calendar, while Khosrow Naghi’s Parliamentary confirmation was still in progress, the Head of the Education Department of Tehran issued a 20-point Order regarding the religious minority schools, namely those of the Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian communities, according to which, the very existence of the minority schools had been denied. The content of the Order contradicted the principles of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic as they pertained to protect the cultural rights of the minorities. Thus, Khosrow Naghi and his fellow religious minority MPs stepped forward to resolve this issue. They contacted and met with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Iran, the Minister of Education, Minister of Justice, and several other ranking statesmen of the country. As a result of these efforts, new instructions were issued, and the earlier Order was nulled and voided in its entirety.

Among his most significant achievements, Khosrow Naghi, in collaboration with the late Chacham Ouriel Davidi, formed the Central Beith Deen of the Iranian Jewish community, i.e. the Jewish Religious Court of Arbitration. This put an end to all interference by unauthorized individuals or institutions in the religious affairs of the Jewish community. It further led the other religious minority MPs to make similar requests and officially maintain the ownership of their schools, the majority of which were endowments dedicated to that particular minority. Besides, the Director of the Education was asked to implement the religious and cultural freedoms of the religious minorities, including the right to practice their own customs and traditions in the minority schools, observe their special holidays, have minority instructors teach at the minority schools, and more. By persistent efforts, many of these just and fair cultural and educational demands were met and implemented. In particular, throughout Khosrow Naghi’s service in the Parliament, all Jewish schools were closed on Saturdays to observe the Jewish Sabbath. He also had the officials agree to grant religious leave of absence to the Jewish people, including the students, university students, government employees, and those serving in the military, on their religious holidays and other such occasions, all of which were implemented. Moreover, he stepped forward and coordinated collecting monetary and material aid offered by the Jewish community for the reconstruction of the country’s war-stricken areas.

Khosrow Naghi pled to forgive few Jews in prison, including several people who had been convicted by the Islamic Republic Court of Mash-had, in the far-east Iran, and due to his persistent efforts, they were all forgiven and set free. In one Iranian town, a Jewish person had fallen victim to gossip and false witness, and had been sentenced to death. However, by the long and persistent efforts of Khosrow Naghi, the sentence was annulled, and the person was freed immediately.

Furthermore, ever since the Revolution, certain misunderstandings and misinterpretations had led to a range of bans and obstructions facing those Jews who wished to legally leave the country or to return home. Khosrow Naghi did what was necessary to remove such obstructions.

Khosrow Naghi’s many achievements as the Representative of the Jewish Community in the First Islamic Parliament also included:

*) Establishing the Jewish Community Cultural and Artistic Center, in order to introduce the cultural, artistic and scientific talents of the Jewish community to the country at large, and to dispel the false rumors that the Jews of Iran were concerned more with the material life than with arts and sciences.

*) Establishing and elevating the athletic affaris of the Jewish youngsters, and encouraging them to participate in athletic competitions, especially those between the religious minorities.

*) Ongoing collaboartion with the Tehran Jewish Association and other institutions in order to resolve their legal problems.

*) Serving as a member of the Real-Estate Properties Committee of the Tehran Jewish Association. In that capacity, he acted to remove the obstructions, establish the ownership of the Association over its properties, and spend the income earned thereof for philanthropic causes and the public welfare.

*) Participating in the Arbitration Committee of the Tehran Jewish Association, in order to resolve familial disputes between members of the Jewish community, and to offer them the necessary legal counsel.

*) Keeping the Jewish schools closed on Saturdays to observe the Sabbath, which remained in effect especially during his term in the Islamic Parliament.

*) Acting to give priority to the Jewish students when enrolling in the Jewish schools, regardless of any limitations.

*) Publishing a news bulletin, which covered a summary of the significant actions taken, the speeches offered, and the official announcements related to the assigned responsibilities.

 

In 1981, Khosrow Naghi married his first wife. The couple brought a daughter to the world. The marriage lasted for eight years.

In 1984, Khosrow Naghi ended his public service and returned to his private legal practice, although he went on to serve as a legal advisor to his community. He has since spent a large share of his spare time in the literary and cultural societies, and on occasion, he offers lectures and speeches in these fields. Most recently, he has plans to publish collections of his poetry.