Sunni Seminaries under State Pressure

Sunni Seminaries under State Pressure

The moderate government of Dr. Rouhani has been ruling in Iran for more than three years. It was supposed the Iranian Sunni community, as a vulnerable minority, would breathe easily after the hard times during the government of Ahmadinejad, the controversial president of Iran for eight years. But it has been proven the time for breathing freely is much away.
During the rule of the past government, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, a state-run conservative-dominated body based in Qom city, passed a resolution to take the control of independent Islamic seminaries of the Sunni community. The council first passed a resolution under the name of the “Act of Reformation of Religious Schools of Ahl-e-Sunnat”. The act was refused by most of the scholars, rectors and teachers of Sunni seminaries, especially in the eastern provinces of Iran. The act was renamed to the “Council of Planning for Sunni Seminaries” which has been working under the control of the office of the Supreme Leader’s representatives in Sunni-dominated provinces.
Despite it, the state-run council has not been accepted by the independent seminaries and Ulama. In recent days, the state pressures have been stepped up. From one side, delegations of the council meet with the rectors and educational representatives of seminaries and on the other hand, intelligence authorities pressurize some Sunni rectors who consider the resolution of the SCCR ‘intervention’ in their seminaries’ activities and independence.

What do the rectors say?
In the latest meeting of rectors of seminaries of Sistan-Baluchistan in Chabahar, the rectors urged on ‘independence’ of seminaries denying strongly to accept any kind of financial aid of the state-run offices. They have decided to send a delegation representing all seminaries of Sistan-Baluchistan. Most of the traditional non-state seminaries work in Sistan-Baluchistan, Khorasan and Golestan provinces of Iran.
As in the past, the scholars had denied to go under the umbrella of the Planning Council, even Shaikh Abdol-Hamid once announced ‘we may shut down our seminaries, but we never hand them over to the state-run offices,’ it is obviously possible the rectors and public opinion of the Sunni community will refuse the act once again. In the previous government, some prominent scholars were sent to jail and many others were harassed. But the seminaries still resisted. It is clear the rectorate of Islamic learning centers will resist the new wave of pressures if their remarks are not resolved.

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