Security forces prevented the Sunni community in Tehran from carrying out their Friday prayers on Friday, January 9.

Sunnis gathered at the International Unity Conference in Tehran to hear prominent Sunni cleric Molavi Abdolhamid Esmaiil-zehi take part in a conference. The cleric was also due to lead Friday prayers at the capital’s Sunni Center.

But, according to the Baloch Activists Campaign website, as members of the Sunni community arrived at the center, security forces blocked the streets leading to it, preventing people from attending prayers and the conference that preceded it.

The Tehran International Unity Conference was set up to promote tolerance between Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities. Molavi Abdolhamid had been invited to take part in the conference as a representative of the Sunni community in Zahedan, southern Iran.

“When I went to the Pounak prayer center, I realized the entrances were closed,” former MP Jajal Jalalizadeh told the the Baloch Activists Campaign. “Someone there told me the security forces had called the night before, informing them that they should not go ahead with the Friday prayers.”

Molavi Abdolhamid is the Friday Imam of Zahedan and is known to be a moderate Sunni cleric; he has been well received by authorities since President  Rouhani took office in June 2013. Photographs of him with Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, during a “unity conference” were recently published in the Iranian media.

The Sunni population in Iran is estimated to be around 15 million. The erection of Sunni mosques is banned in Tehran, so Sunni worshippers are forced to use “house mosques” as prayer centers across the capital.

Read the original article in Persian

 

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