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Sanctions on Iran block mosque from claiming spiritual tiles

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MANASSAS, Va. (AP) — A northern Virginia mosque is asking the Biden administration to launch a set of spiritual tiles that had been confiscated at Dulles Worldwide Airport after they had been deemed to violate sanctions on Iran.

At a news convention Tuesday on the Manassas Mosque, Imam Abolfazl Nahidian mentioned the custom-made tiles had been shipped in June from the Iranian metropolis of Qom, for use in building of a brand new mosque a couple of miles away.

He mentioned the tiles had been a present and he paid no cash for them, however a Customs and Border Safety officer on the airport blocked the mosque from claiming the tiles, citing the sanctions.

Nahidian mentioned he has obtained different tile shipments all through the years with out incident, together with one cargo that arrived eight months in the past.

A letter from Customs and Border Safety knowledgeable the mosque that the tile should be shipped again to Iran or destroyed.

Destroying the tiles, that are adorned with Quranic verses, can be particularly disturbing, Nahidian mentioned.

“Destroying the tiles is similar as destroying verses of the Quran, or the entire Quran itself,” he mentioned.

Nihad Awad, government director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, mentioned that no matter one’s views are of the Iranian sanctions, it is not sensible to implement the foundations on a benign piece of spiritual artwork.

“They aren’t weapons of mass destruction,” Awad mentioned. “We consider the federal government ought to have frequent sense.”

A spokesperson for Customs and Border Safety confirmed that the tiles had been positioned on maintain June 21 and that on June 30, the Treasury Division’s Workplace of Overseas Asset Management decided that, underneath the sanctions imposed on Iran, the tiles couldn’t be imported. The spokesperson mentioned no ultimate willpower has been made on the tiles’ disposition.

The Treasury Division declined remark Tuesday.

Audio system at Tuesday’s news convention recommended that anti-Islam sentiment could also be liable for the confiscation.

“If this had been a statue of the Virgin Mary, would we be right here discussing this?” requested Rafi Uddin Ahmed, president of the Muslim Affiliation of Virginia.

Nahidian has led the mosque for practically three many years, and has often drawn scrutiny from critics who say he’s anti-Israel and was a supporter of the ayatollahs within the Iranian Revolution. He has blamed the Sept. 11 assault on Israel; in 1979, he and others chained themselves to the railings of the Statue of Liberty after climbing to the highest and unfurling banners criticizing the shah of Iran, who was overthrown.

Nahidian mentioned his historical past is irrelevant as to if the tiles needs to be imported.

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