Hospital founded by American missionaries demolished

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A hospital founded by American missionaries 100 years ago and confiscated following the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979 has been demolished after a long-running dispute.

Masih (“Messiah”) Hospital, in the western city of Kermanshah, was one of several hospitals and other institutions founded by missionaries in the early 1900s.

Four years ago, Article18 reported that the hospital had been saved from demolition after regaining its nationally-registered status.

But the dispute with the property owner, who had long sought its demolition, rumbled on, culminating in its sudden destruction yesterday.

The demolition took place yesterday.

The owner had argued that the building, which had not been used in 20 years, was no longer worth preserving, given that it had been badly damaged in a fire and allegedly becoming the dwelling place for rough sleepers and drug addicts.

However, a spokesperson for the local cultural heritage organisation said a complaint would be filed about the demolition as it had not been authorised, and added that no permission would be granted to build another property on the land unless it was a precise replica of the old hospital, which was designed by renowned Iranian-Armenian architect Markar Galstiants.

Masih Hospital was one of numerous Christian-run institutions to be confiscated following the 1979 revolution, as the missionaries who had founded schools, hospitals and institutions for the blind were forced out of Iran as anti-foreign feeling predominated. 

Many of the institutions they left behind, including Masih Hospital, continued to function under new, Muslim leadership, but others were left empty and later repurposed, such as the former house of the Anglican Bishop of Iran in Isfahan, which was recently turned into a museum.Article18