Iran's most prominent Sunni cleric criticized the government's handling of the economic crisis as he led Eid al-Fitr prayers in the south-eastern city of Zahedan on April 21.
After the Ramadan month of fasting, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid with prayers, feasts and family visits. Islam’s holidays follow a lunar calendar, but some authorities rely on astronomical calculations rather than physical sightings, which frequently leads to disagreements over the start date of Eid.
This year, many Arab countries, Afghanistan, Turkey, among others, began their celebrations on April 21, while Iran’s Shia authorities, Pakistan and other countries set the first day of the holiday for April 22.
However, Molavi Abdulhamid, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of Zahedan, declared April 21 as Eid al-Fitr, causing a stir among the Muslim community in Iran. The 76-year-old cleric has been a key dissenting voice inside Iran since the eruption of nationwide protests in September 2022 demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes.
Videos published on social media show Eid prayers being held in Zahedan and other cities in Sistan and Baluchistan, home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people. Eid prayers were also performed in the Iranian cities of Kenarak, Khash, Iranshahr, and multiple cities in Golestan and Kurdistan provinces.
In his Eid sermon, Molavi said that the fall of the national currency has reduced people’s savings to ashes because the government is “unable to manage the economic crisis.”
"We believe that the majority of Iranian citizens are dissatisfied with the current state of affairs, including government officials and employees and even the armed forces. The economy is crippled, and the pressure is being felt by everybody," he said.
In Tehran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced he would personally lead the Eid al-Fitr prayer on April 22 after a three-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.