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‘Sunnis seek greater involvement in Iran’s future,’ says Sunni leader



The age of tyranny and dictatorship has come to an end and nations have risen to bring down oppression and despotism in the world, said prominent Iranian Sunni clericc during Eid al-Adha, an important religious holiday observed by Muslims.

According to the Sunni Online website, Abdul Hamid, a moderate voice and influential figure in Iran’s Sunni community, made the comments before a crowd of around 200,000 people in Zahedan, the centre of Sistan and Baluchistan Province.

Abdul Hamid, who also heads Friday Prayers in Zahedan, said that the biggest demand of Iran’s Sunni minority was to be able to determine their destiny and to participate in the decision-making process in the country.

“Even though the constitution recognises Sunnis [as a minority], in practice, Sunnis are not represented proportionally when it comes to employment and obtaining [professional] positions and they face discrimination,” the cleric continued.

“Why shouldn’t Sunnis become ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors and governors,” he added. “Why are Sunnis never granted key positions and why are they not trusted?”

“Sunnis expect to have their religious convictions and their religious freedoms recognised across the country, not just in Sunni [majority] areas.”

Abdul Hamid also criticised the Iranian regime’s attempts to impose control over Sunni institutions. “Sunni seminaries and mosques must not operate under the respectful Shiite clergy,” he went on to add.

“Within the Sunni community there are many able individuals and clerics, and they can administer their religious affairs well, the government has only the right to supervise religious affairs,” he said.

“We are all Muslims and must live alongside one another freely. If authorities in the Islamic Republic uphold and value the rights of Sunnis, this can improve the standing of Shiites in the world and will cause other countries to follow … Iran.”

Iran’s Sunni community have long complained of various forms of discriminations in the workplace, as well as religious and linguistic restrictions and prohibitions, all in clear violation of the provisions in the constitution.

The theologian also voiced concern over the striking number of executions in Iran in recent years, many of which have been carried out in Sistan and Baluchistan Province.

“With this number of executions, who will look after the families that lack a caretaker, or the orphaned children? Who will take responsibility for their future, their uncertain fate, their education and upbringing?” he asked.

“As someone who has spent fifty years of his life teaching and studying the Quran and Hadith, I am aware that in [the early days of] Islam, executions did not take place at the current rate,” he argued. “I believe that the executions must be halted.”[1]

Abdul Hamid called on the judiciary to show greater clemency in dealing with drug traffickers, pointing out that poverty was the main reason many individuals in his region

turned to illegal drug trade.

“The thirty-year experience after the [Islamic] Revolution proves that the death penalty does not have any impact on drug [trade],” he said.

According to an Amnesty International report published in March, Iran executed more people in 2011 than any other country in the world apart from China.

On 23 October, three independent human rights experts from the United Nations expressed outrage at the recent execution of ten people on drug-related offenses.

“We deeply deplore the recent executions and the continuing reports of individuals detained who remain at risk of executions for charges that do not amount to the ‘most serious crimes,’ as defined by international human rights law,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteurs on Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, Christof Heyns and Juan E. Méndez.

“We urgently call on the Iranian authorities to heed to the recurrent calls of the international community not to carry out further executions,” they said. “It is disturbing enough that the Iranian authorities continue to execute individuals whose alleged crimes do not conform to ‘most serious’ standards under international law en masse,” said the experts who were appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council.

“We urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to impose an official moratorium with immediate effect on the use of the death penalty, especially in drug-related cases.”


[1] A hadith is a text reporting a quote or describing an action of the Prophet or in some cases his successors.

Source: GVF