Jewish-built tower in Tehran collapses

At least 75 people, including 40 firefighters, are dead after the Plasco Tower block came tumbling down in Tehran after a massive fire. The Tower was built by Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian. His execution by the Khomeini regime in May 1979 caused a mass exodus of Jews from Iran. The population rapidly went from 100,000 to less than 20,000. The Globe and Mail reports: (with thanks Heather and Sylvia)

 

The Plasco building was an iconic presence
on Tehran’s skyline, one of the first to rise against the backdrop of
the snowcapped Mount Damavand. Opened in 1962, it was the first
privately owned tower to be built during the era of the U.S.-backed
shah, when oil money fueled the capital’s rapid development.

The
tower, the tallest in Tehran at the time and just north of the
sprawling Grand Bazaar, got its name from the plastics manufacturing
company owned by its builder, Iranian Jewish businessman Habib
Elghanian.

After the 1979 Islamic
Revolution that overthrew the shah, Iran’s new clerical rulers had
Elghanian tried on charges that included spying for Israel. He was
executed by firing squad — an outcome that prompted many of the
remaining members of the country’s longstanding Jewish community to
flee.

The state-controlled Islamic
Revolution Mostazafan Foundation took ownership of the building. The
foundation, which has ties to the powerful paramilitary Revolutionary
Guard, made no immediate statement about the collapse.

The fire was the worst in Tehran since a 2005 blaze at a historic mosque killed 59 worshippers and injured nearly 200 others.

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