The notorious Friday Imam of Isfahan used today’s sermon to incite his followers to round up people not observing the Ramadan fast and “destroy” them.
Yousef Tabatabaei Nejad told the faithful at the Jameh Mosque that they needed to “do what is good and forbid what is bad. If you cannot do this alone, go in groups.”
He then qualified the statement, saying he didn’t mean for Muslims to physically attack fellow citizens, but rather to make an example of them: “Make them understand that they live in the city of the living, not the city of the dead where values are forgotten.”
As in previous years, reports are stacking up across Iran of arrests where people either broke – or had not observed in the first place – a daylight fast during the Muslim holy month.
.Breaking the fast in public, including by serving food in restaurants, is punishable by two to 10 months in prison and up to 74 lashes.
Tabatabaei Nejad, who is effectively Ali Khamenei’s representative in Isfahan, has previous form with religiously-charged incitements to violence.
In 2014 he called for people to “use force” against women with “bad hijab” shortly before a string of acid attacks on Iranian women in the city. The ultraconservative cleric then doubled down on the comments in 2020, saying: “Society should be made insecure for women who unveil.”