Iran’s Sunni leader:

Justice & Equality, Cry of Ethnic and Religious Communities in Iran

Justice & Equality, Cry of Ethnic and Religious Communities in Iran

The most influential Iranian Sunni leader considered justice and equality as the main demands of all Iranian people. Shaikh Abdol-Hamid strongly criticized the lack of freedom for Sunnis during the past forty-four years since the 1979 revolution.
He was talking to the people of Zahedan before the Friday prayers on the first day of September 2023.
The Iranian top Sunni leader believed that according to some “unwritten policies” the Sunni community of Iran has been marginalized and deprived of their many due rights, saying: “Based on unwritten policies, some put pressures on Sunnis. In the provincial centers, we are deprived of official posts, in the armed forces, we are not present; in the judiciary and in the government cabinet, we have been ostracized. Regarding the appointment of ministers from the Sunni community, the decisions are made elsewhere.”

I dare to say there has not been meritocracy in Iran
The Friday prayer leader of Sunnis in Zahedan continued his speech, and said: “In his latest meeting with a group of Sunni scholars, the president Raisi talked about the Sunni rights in Iran. I would like to explain the issue with more detail. For forty-four years, justice has been one of the main demands of the Sunnis. The rights of all Iranians including ethnic and religious minorities must be respected; we demand the rights that the constitution, Islam, and republic states respect them, and our country as a republican and as an Islamic state admits these rights.”
“The authorities should have fulfilled the rights of minorities, but unfortunately they could not. In the Islamic republic, Sunnis are not present in the armed forces. During the Pahlavi era, Sunnis occupied various commanding ranks in the army and gendarmerie. There was not any difference among Iranian communities at that time. Many clan heads and influential people in the region are retired soldiers and officials of the Pahlavi regime,” said the Iranian top Sunni cleric during his Friday sermons of Zahedan.
Shaikh Abdol-Hamid said: “During the period of 44 years since the revolution, no Sunni has been appointed as minister in the government cabinets; while there are capable people among them. I dare to say that there was no meritocracy in Iran. Of course, I am not saying that people you hired were not capable at all.”
“If you had Sunni ministers and women in the cabinet, it would have raised the country’s reputation and fame in the world,” he believed.

Sunnis have been marginalized in the provincial centers including Zahedan and Sanandaj
The eminent scholar of Iranian Balochistan said: “The president Raisi released a statistic about the number of Sunni directors and officers in the country. It is true that Sunni citizens were appointed as city governors in some cities but there is no balance in the provincial centers. I warned many times and wrote to the officials that there were few Sunnis in the offices of the provincial centers; those who were hired previously are retiring now and the authorities do not hire more Sunni citizens.”
He complained about the lack of the Sunni officials in the provincial capitals where they are in majority, saying: “Justice has not been implementing in the recruitment of Sunnis in the provincial centers. Sunnis have been marginalized in the provincial centers such as Zahedan and Sanandaj and many other provinces where they have a significant population. Since the revolution, not even a single Sunni member has appointed in the provincial Security Council in Sistan-Balochistan, while Sunnis and Baloch constitute more than seventy percent of the population of this province. In all Sunni majority provinces, we had the same condition; I have followed this issue.”
“Hiring Sunnis in provincial centers will stabilize security, maintain fraternity, cause solidarity and has less cost to bring security,” he believed.

Sunnis in Tehran and metropolises have problems in establishing prayers
The Iranian top Sunni cleric went on to refer to the problems that Sunnis have regarding prayers. He said: “The president Raisi mentioned a high number of mosques belong to Sunnis in Iran. During a trip to Tehran, when someone presented a high statistic of mosques of Sunnis, I said that you have presented the statistics of village mosques. It is right that Sunnis have mosques in villages and in some cities such as Zahedan and other Sunni majority cities, but in big cities where Sunnis are in minority, where they have a population of about hundreds of thousands to a million people, you have not allowed them to build mosques in such cities. In many cities where the Sunni population is hundreds of thousands, they do not have mosques.”
“You did not allow Sunnis to build a mosque in Tehran, while Tehran is the center of gravity of the country and the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Foreign guests ask where the mosques of Sunnis are so that we can offer prayers. Prayer houses are facing so many problems and obstacles,” he added more.
“If you have permitted Sunnis to build mosques in Tehran, it would have been in the interest of the system and would raise the country’s honor. Today, Sunnis in Tehran and many big cities do not have mosques to pray, while prayers do not harm anyone. Recently, the mayor of New York announced that New York City will permit the adhan to be broadcast at designated times every Friday and during the holy month of Ramadan,” Shaikh Abdol-Hamid referred to the religious freedom in the United States of America.
He went on to give an example of freedom in Russia and pointed out to one of his trips in Moscow, saying: “During my trip to Moscow, I was impressed that the representatives of the Russian government said in one of the conferences that we have come to the conclusion that we will not interfere in the affairs of religions. A big mosque was built near the Kremlin Palace in the center of the city. Russian Muslims paid the expenses to build the mosque, which was two hundred million dollars. A businessperson has contributed one hundred and fifty million dollars to build this mosque; if this businessperson was in some Islamic countries where there are narrow-minded people, he should have left his country and gone somewhere else, because they would have asked him where he got this money from and why he spent in that case.”

Do not put the religion under supervision of the state
Regarding the statistics of religious centers and schools of Sunnis in the country, the president of Darululoom Zahedan said: “The president Raisi has given high statistics about Sunni religious schools and centers. In the past, some wanted to hand over the management of Sunnis’ religious schools to Shia scholars. Sunnis strongly opposed this issue and endured many problems in this regard; many Sunni scholars detained and imprisoned. Those who accepted to be under the supervision of state organs have been either closed or failed to fulfill their mission. Some mosques have been facing the same problem. Although we do not have this problem in this region, but where the state run organs imposed imams of mosques on people, people have abandoned going to mosques. There are many examples in the country.”
“It is not fair if our Shia brothers take over our religious affairs, just as it is not fair that the religious affairs of Shia Muslims are in the hands of Sunnis. In any country of the world, neither Shia nor Sunnis’ religious affairs should be under the supervision of governments in both political systems of Shias and Sunnis; independence in religious affairs is must. As we said that we have no problem with monitoring, the government can supervise, but we will not let any system to manage our religious affairs and interfere,” said Imam of the Grand Makki Mosque of Zahedan.
He insisted: “In the past, we have said that the state organs must not interfere in our religious affairs and we must have our absolute freedom. All over the world, Sunnis and Shiites should be independent. In my trips to some countries, I have emphasized on religious freedom and on respecting the rights of Shia brothers.”
“You should have given freedom to the Sunnis so that they could build mosques and worship Allah freely, but you did not. After the issue of wearing hijab in the country, the prayer houses of Sunnis were also invaded. I said there were two attacks; the first one is the violent treatment against women and the other was pressures on Sunnis. In women issue, we advised not to behave with them harshly. No man is allowed to take a woman’s hand and throw her,” Mawlana Abdol-Hamid said.
He continued: “Regarding the prayers, we said do not put restrictions on the prayer rooms. Prayer is the worship of the Lord; Islam has not allowed preventing any sect or religion from worship. Not only in Iran, but all over the world, no government has the right to harass people and prevent them from worship.”

The president Raisi’s administration has not fulfilled any promises to Sunnis
The most outstanding Sunni leader of Zahedan highlighted national demands and problems of the Iranian people amid recent crises, and said: “Our main demands are national demands. We criticize the Raisi’s administration for not fulfilling its promises; they said they choose provincial governors and the Deputy Minister and Ambassador from Sunnis, but they have not done so. Sunnis are your brothers, owners of this land and belong to the same country. You must give hope to Sunnis, but you could not.”
“In two meetings with the president Raisi, I said that our first demand is the national demand that is the demand of all Iranians, and then we pursue the problems of ethnic and religious communities. Our most important demands are national demands. We do not believe to make a difference between Shiite and Sunni citizens, and we believe that they are all brothers and sisters, and should enjoy equal rights,” he said.
Shaikh Abdol-Hamid said in his last points of the Friday speech of Zahedan: “I strongly disagree with those who create sectarian disputes between Shiites and Sunnis. I recommend avoiding such disputes. We believe that the rights of all ethnic and religious communities should be observed; this is the view of Islam and the view of the democratic systems. Governing is not possible with narrow views. Views should be wide and high, and justice and freedom are very important.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts