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Iranian Sunnis face extreme intimidation under Raisi regime

Ebrahim Raisi, Raisi, Sunni, Iran, Iranian

Opinion

Iranian Sunnis face extreme intimidation under Raisi regime

While a large number of Sunni Muslim nations are sympathetic to Iranian mullah regime and Palestinian mega-terror outfit Hamas, which also comprises Sunnis are openly proclaiming itself as proxy of Iran, Sunnis is Iran are likely to face increased intimidation under the cruel regime of mass-murderer Ebrahim Raisi. It may be mentioned here that, Raisi, who came to power through a fake election in August 2021 has filled his Cabinet with members of the institutions that are key in cracking down on the Sunnis, such as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence. Last year, Iranian mullah regime passed two dangerous amendments to Articles 499 and 500 of its Penal Code, paving path to easily discriminate religious minorities.

Despite the fact of Sunnis being the largest religious minorities in Iran, with many belonging to the Arab, Balochi, Turkmen or Kurdish ethnic groups, they have always been considered by the mullah regime as “natural enemies of Shias” and opponents to the regime. They also are seen through the lens of suspicion and even considered as “foreign agents” in most cases.

According to the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, the country’s Sunnis have long raised serious concerns that the “authorities do not appoint or employ them in high-ranking government positions, such as Cabinet-level ministers or governors. They have also raised concerns regarding reported restrictions on the construction of Sunni mosques in Shiite-majority areas, including the capital Tehran, and the execution or imminent execution of Sunni activists the government alleges were involved in terrorist-related activities”.

One of the major revolutionary and religious principles of Iran’s ruling clerics is to export Shiite ideology, where non-Shiite groups are generally considered rivals, conspirators or threats to achieving the regime’s ideological goals. This is the main reason for Sunnis facing numerous forms of intimidations and persecutions although they make up about 10 percent of Iran’s population. Since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power through Islamist revolution and enforced Shi’te rule in the country in 1979, no Sunni has been appointed to a high-level government position in the country.

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Instead, the Iranian regime utilizes the Ministry of Intelligence, the Basij and the judiciary to intimidate and control the country’s Sunnis. And the Sunnis have not been successful in invoking the Iranian Constitution, which guarantees rights to Islamic traditions other than Shiite. Meaning, the Constitution indirectly encourages intimidation of Sunnis and other religious minority groups in Iran.

According to Article 12: “Other Islamic schools, including the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali and Zaydi, are to be accorded full respect and their followers are free to act in accordance with their own jurisprudence in performing their religious rites. These schools enjoy official status in matters pertaining to religious education, affairs of personal status (marriage, divorce, inheritance and wills) and related litigation in courts of law”.

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This is due to the lack of fairness and due process in Iran’s judicial system, as well as the regime’s trumped-up and ambiguous charges against many Sunnis. The constitutional articles that guarantee the rights of Sunnis appear to be only a facade to delude the international community into believing that the Iranian leaders respect religious freedoms and the human rights of all groups, irrespective of their ethnic or religious backgrounds.

According to the latest report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom: “Iran’s persecution of Sunni Muslims also continued in 2021. On New Year’s Eve 2020, the government executed three Sunni Muslim political prisoners at Vakilabad prison without notifying their families beforehand. In January, it demolished the foundations of a Sunni mosque in Iranshahr, and also reportedly halted the construction of two new Sunni mosques in the region. In March, authorities arrested a Sunni author and translator and sent him to Zahedan prison. That same month, the Urmia Revolutionary Court sentenced a Sunni Muslim man to three years in prison on the charge of membership in a Salafi group”.

The unfortunate fact is, none of the international rights groups have ever looked into the case of intimidation of Sunnis in Iran. As the Iran’s Sunnis have the right to exercise their religious faith and it is incumbent on human rights groups and the international community to pressure the Iranian regime into halting its policies of intimidation, persecution and harassment. If Western powers such as the US and EU truly stand for freedom of religion, social justice, liberty and democracy, they should seriously take up the case of Sunni persecution in Iran and exert pressure on Tehran to stop such evil practices. In fact, the international community should place the Tehran’s mullah regime’s suppression of the Sunni minority at the top of their agenda forthwith.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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