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Khamenei Denounces Fire Festival

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran's supreme leader has condemned a fire festival traditionally held in the days leading up to the country's New Year's celebrations in March.

The Chahar Shanbe Soori festival, in which celebrants traditionally light bonfires and leap over them, is linked to the ancient Zoroastrian religion -- which predates the seventh-century introduction of Islam in the region.

Thw ISNA news agency reports that Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the event is un-Islamic because it is "hallowing fire" and "therefore has to be avoided."

Police officials say seven people have been killed while making firecrackers for the festival in recent days.

compiled from agency reports