Ukraine’s chief rabbi has visited a British-Iranian man on hunger strike after a fatwa was issued against the protestor.
Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman attended the hospital bedside of Vahid Beheshti last Wednesday, accompanied by the Conservative peer Lord Stuart Polak.
Beheshti, 45, is calling for the UK Government to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) a terrorist organisation, and has been on hunger strike since February 23. He began the protest in Whitehall and was admitted to hospital earlier this month before being discharged on Thursday.
The campaigner announced on Tuesday that he had been informed that an Iranian cleric connected to the IRCG had issued a fatwa against him calling for his death.
Beheshti said he was “blessed” to meet with Azman, who was in the UK to meet politicians and Jewish leaders to raise support for the Ukrainian war effort.
He said the rabbi had shown concern for his health and encouraged him in his campaign against what Beheshti described as a “common enemy”.
Ukraine, he said, has suffered due to the actions of the Islamic Republic after it allegedly provided Russia with drones and missile technology in their war against the country.
“We have a common enemy,” Beheshti said. “We stand strong together in this battle.”
He added that he was “really happy” the rabbi had visited.
It was an honour to have the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine Moshe Reuven Azman @RabbiUkraine and Lord Polak visit me in hospital on my 13th day in hospital following a 72-day #HungerStrike opposite the UK's @FCDOGovUK to proscribe Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).— Vahid Beheshti (@Vahid_Beheshti) May 17, 2023
We had… pic.twitter.com/Nw0l4HZFeJ
Azman called on the UK Government to heed Beheshti’s request, who he called “a hero” whose fight is “brave and noteworthy”, in a video posted to Twitter.
“As a religious leader, it pains me to see a person take such extreme measures to fight for justice,” Azman said.
“The good people of Iran, with God’s help, will change Iran. We Ukrainian people every day saw the damage from Iran’s drones. They destroy the infrastructure, kill people.”
He added: “Mr Beheshti’s struggle is not his alone. He is a reminder of the global struggle against violence and terrorism. The time has come for us, as a global community, to stand united against any form of violence and strive for peace.”
Beheshti’s protest has garnered the support of parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, with Lord Polak repeatedly expressing support for it.
More than 125 MPs, including a dozen former cabinet ministers, have signed a petition in support of his campaign.
Beheshti has yet to receive any direct response from Prime Minister Sunak, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly or Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
Many of Beheshti’s supporters are allegedly still camping outside the Foreign Office, and he has vowed to rejoin them as soon as his doctors allow, according to a statement.