The Iranian regime has increased its persecution of Iranian Sunnis in southwestern and southeast Iran, which have large Sunni populations.
Iranian Sunnis make up about around 10% of the population.
During the recent crackdown on Sunnis, an Iranian official called for the destruction of the Grand Sunni Mosque in Zahedan, southeast Iran.
On May 24, Mohammed Bagher Tabatabayi, Advisor to the General Directorate of Islamic Culture and Guidance of Khorasan Razavi Province in northeastern Iran, said that the Grand Mosque was a “house of corruption” in a tweet. He deleted the tweet due to national outrage.
“One of the houses of corruption that has to be destroyed is here,” he tweeted on the eve of Eid al-Fetr along with an image of the mosque.
Iranian Sunnis are not allowed to have a mosque in the capital Tehran despite several requests by Sunni religious leaders.
Their mosques have also been destroyed in several cities.
Human rights groups have reported that from the beginning of the Persian year (March 20) despite the raging coronavirus crisis, several religious Sunni teachers, students, and civil activists have been summoned, interrogated, and arrested.
Several other reports indicate that Sunni clerics were pressured by the state to comply with the religious opinions of the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, for the announcement of when Eid al-Fitr should be.
Religious activists and Friday Imams summoned in western Iran
Yesterday, the human rights network of Kurdistan reported that during the month of Ramadan, at least 10 Sunnis in Sanandaj, western Iran were detained. They were all students of the Ibrahim Khalilollah Mosque’s Dar al-Uloom religious school.
According to reports, Ali Moradi, a Sunni cleric, was also summoned by the Sanandaj Intelligence Agency along with his son Mohammad, at the beginning of Ramadan.
Revolutionary Guards target religious Sunni schools in southeastern Iran
On April 22, Maktoom Askani, a Sunni activist in Zahedan, was summoned and interrogated by the Revolutionary Guards Corps. Abdul Rauf Dashti, another Sunni activist was also summoned and arrested by the Zahedan Revolutionary Guards Corps.
In late April, the Human Rights News Agency reported that Shahdad Zehi, a Sunni cleric at the “Manba al-Ulum” in Sarbaz, southeasetern Iran was summoned by the intelligence agency. He was interrogated by security agents on April 25.
On May 21st, the Baluch Activists Campaign said that Akram Kuhi, the temporary head of Friday prayers in Peshamag village, was summoned and interrogated by the Zahedan Revolutionary Guards Corps.
The reports said that he was asked about the employees, teachers, and students at the religious school of Anvar al-Haramein during interrogations. There were reports that four other Iranian Sunnis from this religious school were summoned and interrogated last September.
On March 26, during the peak of the COVID-19 epidemic in Iran when lockdowns were in place, Abdolrashid Rigi, a Sunni religious teacher in Sistan and Baluchestan Province was arrested. He was told that he was arrested for criticizing the regime during his Friday prayer sermons.
Despite the coronavirus epidemic, the dire state of the economy, and an increase in the number of impoverished Iranians, the regime’s security and judicial apparatus have heightened their persecution of minorities and political and civil rights activists.