The Sunni community of Iran including Sunnis of the Sistan-Baluchistan province has been facing massive discriminative governmental policies since the public revolution in 1979. It has compelled some Sunni MPs and Friday khateebs to speak out decrying unwelcome stances of rulers. Some unwritten biased regulations have been forbidding the Sunni community to take part in serving the country. Although, the reformist government of Mr. Khatami tried to get the support of huge population of Sunnis by giving them some regional posts, but he could not cross the red lines. Elimination of discrimination remained a downright slogan for candidates of the presidential elections of the early terms.
No-go areas for Sunnis:
However the official discrimination has not left any post for Sunnis in common management departments; there are some offices which are completely considered ‘no-go areas’ for the Iranian Sunni community. Those departments are as following:
-All minister houses;
-The Intelligence Ministry;
-The state Television and Radio;
Recently, the Revolutionary Guards in Sistan-Baluchistan has announced to employ some Sunni forces officially. It is not clear whether they would get promotion or not. There were some efforts to employ Sunnis’ educated forces in “insensitive” posts in the rule of Mr. Khatami, the ex-president of Iran backed by reformists. When Mr. Dahmarde, former governor of Sistan-Baluchistan chaired the governorship, the process of employing Sunnis became frozen. Previous Sunni officials got retired and none of Sunnis superseded them; it intensified absence of Sunni intellectuals in the management of the province. The ex-governor Mr. Azad, who has been shifted to another province lately, showed his desire to employ Sunni citizens. He only succeeded to appoint few Sunni governors for some cities. Apparently, he surrendered before the fanatic elements.
Now, from five assistants of the governor only one person belongs to the Sunni community; Mr. Hamed Mobaraki is about to retire, it would change the fate of his post soon. There are 14 city governors inside the province, only 3 of them belong to the Sunni community; Sistan-Baluchistan is a Sunni-dominated province. In the department of education, there is no a single Sunni assistant out of five seats of the assistance. The directors of the regional zones in Zahedan are not Sunnis; there was an empty post for some weeks, the cultural activists recommended a Sunni intellectual who was denied by Mr. Qasemi, the head of the department.
Now the number of Sunni managers in the province is less than the number of fingers. There is no any Sunni member in the Security Council of Sistan-Baluchistan; while the security officials repeatedly avowed that they had owed Sunnis a lot in the maintenance of peace and security. Huge cooperation of Sunni forces with the Revolutionary Guards, Police, Intelligence and other armed services –unofficially and as Basij forces– is not any secret; in spite of all these services non of them could advance to a provincial or lower position.
The same is the situation in Judiciary. It is an important department which is the symbol of justice and executer of that; but it could not implement justice in employment of the management of courts, advising Sunni scholars and juridical experts.
Overall view of the regime:
What is the view point of the state of Iran about sharing power with Sunnis on the national and provincial levels? There is no any official statement in media record. By studying the Constitution and some views of the Supreme Leader, we can easily understand that there is no any limitation for Sunnis in employment. Whatever has been implemented is only an unwritten rule. These regulations have been executed by some hidden but powerful and ultra-bigoted elements. Weak role of governments and lake of decisiveness made the fanatic sides more brazen-faced.
I remember words of someone who accompanied the leader in his Kurdistan trip; he told me when the leader, Mr. Khamenei, was chairing the Management Council of Kurdistan, he got angry and said: “How do you manage a Sunni-populated province without taking help from Sunni experts?” I have heard this narration from a trustable man from the leadership department; if we consider it correct then it proves that whatever is going on in the country is contrary to the intensions of the leader. We expect first of all the department of leader’s representation in the Sunni-majority provinces would start removing discrimination between Shia and Sunni. Sunnis should be allowed to run that office by themselves.
It is noticeable that the Revolutionary Guards is the only department that watches the sensitive situation of the country and rounding regions; they know well that religious Sunni organizations have got power in the Arab states which may leave affects on Iran as well. This strong entity employs Sunni citizens as guardsmen now. If the employed Sunni men succeed to get promotion indiscriminately, it will strengthen peace in future. On the other hand, the Revolutionary Guards has been facing criticism over giving useless importance to local tribes and neglecting the changes of the society as educated generation is getting roots in the country who will play a vital role in the country in near future.
Equipping tribal men to bring peace is a good intension, but it can be a drastic danger for the regime as well. Tribal clashes and disputes are common in the province. Sepah wants to maintain peace only by using one channel –tribal elders–, while this class is losing its impact by growing the power of academians; it would create problems for the Revolutionary Guards.
Label of Wahhabism:
One of the main excuses for putting Sunnis away from considerable posts is the label of “Wahhabism”. Since the beginning of the revolution various rulers and pro-state religious scholars warned over spreading of this suspicious sect.
The fact is that “Wahhabism” has become a political lever to marginalize Sunnis more and more. Many Sunni intellectuals have been dismissed just due to the allegation of being Wahhabi!
Obscure & endless perspective:
There is no any hope for removal of partial behavior of the state in the rest months of the ruling government. What will be the condition of the Sunni community in the new government? It is obscure as well. So the promised “social justice” and ejection of discrimination in the 20-year perspective of the regime are unclear. These are the aims of the Islamic revolution and lucid articles of the Constitution; unless the real rulers do not concentrate on these factors, the future of those important goals would remain fruitless and obscure.
The ongoing global and regional circumstances make it more necessary for the Iranian rulers to choose a sane foreign policy for enhancing bilateral relations; as the Islamic awakening, or so called Arab uprising, of masses gave power to Sunni Islamists in the regional countries. In this situation, Iran can not show it self an imitable state to other Muslim countries.
Some slow steps have been taken to make the current situation unnoticeable by the departments which work directly under the supervision of the Supreme Leader; thus the leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is the only man who can eliminate religious discrimination from the society.