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Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi took a break from hating Israel long enough to announce a religious ruling that it would be permitted to use a “Zionist” vaccine against the coronavirus.

“It is not permissible to buy and sell from Zionists and Israel,” Shirazi said Wednesday to the Iranian daily Hamdeli . “Unless the treatment is unique and there is no substitute.”

Shirazis statement comes in response to a Hebrew media report on Wednesday citing unidentified officials as saying that scientists at the Ness Ziona-based Institute for Biological Research were close to developing a vaccine for the coronavirus. The Defense Ministry which controls the institute clarified that they are developing a vaccine is still not ready and will take some time to develop.

Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus. At least 429 people have died in Iran from the outbreak, according to Iranian officials, and more than 10,000 people were confirmed as infected as of Thursday. International estimates suggested the death toll could be far higher.

Some might classify Shirazi as one of Iran’s more modern and enlightened clerics regarding modern medicine. He openly criticized Abbas Tabrizian, described by his supporters as “the father of Islamic medicine of Iran,” for his ideas. Last month, Tabrizian announced a cure for coronavirus which included a thorough hair combing, eating lots of apples and onions, and dipping a cotton ball in olive oil and inserting it in the anus.

Not everyone in Iran agreed with Shirazi’s ruling. Roshan Salih, a prominent journalist for Press TV, tweeted a Haaretz article about an announcement that an Israeli research center had developed a vaccine for the coronavirus.  Salih commented, “I’d rather take my chances with the virus than consume an Israeli vaccine.”

His post attracted massive criticism, leading him to respond with an anti-Semitic trope frequently used by the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement and other critics of Israel who espouse the conspiracy theory that Israel nefariously runs the U.S. government.

In September 2010, Shirazi was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as saying “The Holocaust is nothing but superstition, but Zionists say that people of the world should be forced to accept this. The truth about the Holocaust is not clear, and when the researchers want to examine whether it is true or the Jews have created it to pose as victims, they jail the researchers.”

 


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