In hit Iranian TV drama, Holocaust no 'myth'

For seven months, millions of Iranians have turned on their television sets Monday at 10 p.m. to watch a World War II drama that challenges stereotypes about Iran and Judaism.

The story line could not be less likely in the Islamic Republic, whose president calls the Holocaust a "myth": An Iranian-Palestinian student in France helps save his love – a French Jew – and her family from the Nazis and from becoming victims of the Holocaust. This week the 30-part love story comes to a spectacular end with state-owned television broadcasting an encore presentation of the final episode, which includes a shootout amid the ancient ruins of Persepolis.

The message of the series, says director Hassan Fathi, is that "what is endangering peace is extremist thinking, and political hard-liners that separate people from each other. God created people to love each other, regardless of religion.... Unfortunately [when it comes to] religion the current of extremism is always on, creating misunderstanding between cultures." The Iranian hero and his Jewish love are finally united in the last scene at the foot of Iran's snow-covered Damavand mountain, ending a saga sympathetic to the fate of European Jews. The series is fiction, but inspired by Abdol Hussein Sardari, a real-life Iranian consul in Paris who issued Iranian passports to more than 1,000 European Jews during World War II so they could flee.

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