Iranian intelligence agents have “physically and mentally tortured” the Friday Prayer leader of Rask, in the southwestern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, his son has said.
Molavi Fathi Mohammad Naqshbandi, known for his support of last year’s nationwide anti-government protests, was arrested on August 20 and accused of "dissemination of false information through speeches, defamation against the Islamic Republic of Iran's system, and acting against national security."
On September 24, his son Molavi Abdul Ghafar Naqshbandi wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that the elderly cleric endured torture involving the use of a "stunt gun and an ironing machine" at the Intelligence Department of Zahedan, the provincial capital.
Sistan and Baluchistan is home to Iran's Sunni Baluch minority of up to 2 million people.
The province has been rocked by protest rallies every Friday since September 30, 2022, when security forces killed nearly 100 people in Zahedan in the deadliest incident in the months-long demonstrations sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody in Tehran.
Molavi Abdulhamid, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of Zahedan, has been a key dissenting voice inside Iran since the eruption of the widespread protests, using his sermons to call for fundamental economic, social and political changes in the country.
He has also warned that the continued detention of Molavi Naqshbandi "will exacerbate dissatisfaction and yield negative consequences."