Long before the recent events in Teheran’s Golestan 7th street the minority religions, especially Sufi orders and particularly the Gonabadi Sufi order within Iran, were under the systematic persecution of the regime in Iran.
Mid of February 2018 Teheran witnessed clashes between peacefully demonstrating Sufis and the security forces of Basij, Sepah and Police. These clashes resulted in several casualties along with many injured and arrested Sufi. Finally, Dr Noor Ali Tabandeh the spiritual headmaster of the Gonabadi Sufi order, which is the order with most members in Iran, was forced under house arrest and all Gonabadi Sufi gatherings were prohibited until further notice.
The Sufi orders were among the first minority religions in Iran to become subject to systematic persecution by the Islamist fanatics becoming more and more influential within the Iran regime. Two years after the Iranian revolution in 1979 the main gathering place of the Gonabadi Sufi order in Tehran was destroyed and burned to the ground by Basij forces. However, Ayatollah Khomeini after this event wrote an open letter giving amnesty to the Gonabadi Sufi order and their spiritual headmaster and condemning any violations against them as being a violation against the Sharia laws of Islam and the laws of Iran.
This letter of amnesty slowed down the systematic persecution of the Sufis in Iran but by no means stopped it in total.
In 2006 the gathering place of the Gonabadi Sufi order in the city of Qom was burned to the ground by Basij forces. Over thousand Sufis were arrested and hundreds were injured as a result of the beatings, tear gas and the use of powerful air guns with small metallic projectiles which is the special weapon of the Basij forces and not sold publicly. These are designed to penetrate glass, clothes, skin and flesh that results in extreme pain but do not leave life-threatening injuries.
The pretext for this attack was a fabricated saying (Revayat) falsely assigned to Imam Sadeq and Imam Hadi (the sixth and tenth Imam of the Shia Muslims) that “All Sufis are the enemies of prophet Mohammed and our family and all of Sufis are wrongdoers that need to be eradicated”. The slogans used by the Basij forces under this attack was “Death to Sufis”.
Dr Noorali Tabandeh, the spiritual headmaster of the Gonabadi Sufi order advised the Dervishes present in Qom to all respond with white Gladioli flowers handing them to the Basij forces as a token of peace. This night was later to become remembered as the night of “White Gladiolus and Fire”.
The next day, an exhibition was held by the Basij at the ruins of the Sufi Gathering place where they said to be exhibiting the evidence that they claimed had found during their raid. Alcohol beverages and tools for usage of drugs was brought to the place and tours for school children between the ages of 8-10 was organized to visit the exhibition. These children were brainwashed to thinks that these tools and alcohol beverages belonged to the Sufis and that all Sufis were immoral people, which now, over ten years after this event shows the depth of the conspiracy against the Sufis in Iran.
But the systematic persecution continued. In 2007, chain arrests started against those who covered the violence against the Sufi dervishes in media or on the internet and the lawyers that defended them in court. Many committees were initiated with the help of governmental finance to help the systematic persecution of the minority religions and especially the Gonabadi Sufi orders. Many of these committees are still active with increased yearly budget and all have their own media for spreading propaganda.
In 2008, another Gonabadi gathering place was evened to the ground in the city of Boroujerd and the illegal arrests of the Gonabadi Sufis continued throughout Iran. Their children were expelled from schools and universities and many lost their jobs because they were Gonabadi Sufis.
In 2009, in the cultural city of Isfahan, the Gathering place of the Gonabadi Sufi order was totally destroyed alongside with its associated library and the tomb of one of the spiritual master of the Gonabadi order (Mr Izad Goshasb) that was UNESCO protected containing many old books of poetry and mystical writings. Not even the tomb was excluded in the attack. The next day, as the Sufis of Isfahan, gathered at the ruins of their gathering place in protest the Basij came with big trucks and dumped human feces at the site to prevent a gathering at the site.
This event launched and reaction from the Sufis everywhere in Iran and many travelled to Tehran without any previous planning or coordination. Tehran suddenly flooded with peaceful Sufi protesters who came there to show their support for their spiritual headmaster and to show their protest against the systematic persecution of the Sufis in Iran. These peaceful protests were not isolated to Iran but happened simultaneously throughout the globe by both Sufis and non-Sufis to object against the oppression of those who had been the symbol of peace, love and tolerance within Islam for many centuries around the world. The astonishing fact that people from every corner of the world stood up together against the oppression of the Sufis without any outer coordination or call to action was named “The international day of Sufis” and celebrated ever since on 21st of February around the world.
However, this peaceful protest with international coverage had little effect on the systematic persecution of Sufis in Iran.
In 2010, Mr Noorali Tabande, the spiritual headmaster of the Gonabadi Sufi order, an 82 year old man at the time was arrested without any charges at his home along with 4 other old men who were in his house eating breakfast. He was kept for a full day until released the next day, during that time is subject to physical and psychological torture. He was prohibited from visiting the bathroom for the entire day despite the fact he suffered from BPH (Benign prostatic hyperplasia) with the need of frequent urge to urinate.
During the years that followed, many gathering places of the Gonabadi Sufis were closed in both big and small cities such as Bandar Abbas and Kavar. The arrests and the media censorship along with the limitation of legal protection of Gonabadi Sufis in courts continued also leaving many injured and death casualties such as Mr Vahid Banani in Kavar who was killed with a bullet fired from Basij forces.
This brings us to the recent events and might answer the question of why Sufis and their Spiritual headmaster were attacked in 2018. The persecution in itself is not new but rather how its presented by the propaganda system of the Iranian regime and how its step by step realized by the Basij and Sepah forces.
The violence that recently took place and the death of 5 Basij and police forces are blamed solely on the Sufis. The regime propaganda is, however, distinguishing between “good Sufis” and “bad Sufis” saying that “good Sufis” are those who do not involve themselves in political activities and are peaceful, “bad Sufis” are those who are politically active and anti Iranian regime, militant and violent, while having close connection with Israel and terrorist groups such as ISIS. “ISIS Sufi” or “Sufi Daeshi” is a term used daily in all media in Iran of today. The regime propaganda blames all the violence in Iran both before and after the Golestan 7th events in January 2018 on “bad Sufis” and urge the Gonabadi Sufis themselves to hand over the “bad Sufis” among them. Under this pretext of blaming Sufis themselves, Mr Noorali Tabandeh, the spiritual headmaster of the Gonabadi order is placed under house arrest with very limited visits. All gathering (usually occurring 2 times a week on Monday and Sunday nights) for Gonabadi Sufis throughout Iran has been suspended. Their publication house has been closed and all their books confiscated. All their media channels online for spreading the news of Gonabadi Sufis has been closed down and forced Gonabadi Sufi dervishes to self-censure becoming more and more passive against the injustice that is imposed on them and to give the Gonabadi Sufis a false hope that they will be left alone once the “bad Sufis” are dealt with.
The “bad Sufis” are explained to be the followers of Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh, who is the spokesman of the Gonabadi Sufi order outside of Iran living in France and thus working frequently to discredit Dr Azmayesh among the Sufis themselves.
At the same time, there is a hurry to charge the Sufis arrested during the recent events and to sentence them to death. Mohammad Salas has already been sentenced to death for the charges of being the bus driver who ran over and killed the 3 of the Basij forces. In this unjust trial, where no witnesses nor proofs were presented and the sentence was only based on the confession of Mohammad Salas himself being taken under severe torture that was filmed. Important to note that Mohammad Salas have had no contact with a lawyer under his arrest before the trial and mentioned being constantly beating during interrogations in the court. The live broadcast of the court session of Mohammad Salas was suddenly disrupted as he denied all charges against himself in the court. The total video nor audio recording of the trial was never released to the public. A witness present at the court later told Dorrtv that Mohammad Salas said:
I have not killed anyone nor drove that bus, but I am not afraid of dying and want to die. I am innocent and I love life but I am tired of the beatings, the torture.
The real evidence, however, regarding the “crazy bus” who killed the Basiji forces are pointing towards the same direction, and that is the Sepah themselves who was behind the bus attack in order to receive an open authorization to use non-limited violence against the Gonabadi Sufis and to draw parallels with ISIS terrorist attacks connecting them to the peaceful Gonabadi Sufis with over 1000 years of history and reputation of being the most peaceful people in middle east and the world.
The facts that Mohamad Salas was arrested more than an hour before the event of the bus according to many eyewitnesses, while eyewitnesses within the police force have said during interviews that the bus came from behind while they were moving towards the sit-in protest of the Gonabadi Sufis and the marks on the body of Hossein Hadadian, one of the killed Basijis show clear signs of the same heavy air gun projectiles that are the special weapon of Basiji forces and are not available to people. Moreover, according to the pictures and videos taken on mobile phones and shared on social media, the detailed face of the driver is not clear, however it is visible that it is indeed a young man with black hair covering his head, while Mohammad Salas is half-bold with white hair on the sides of his head.
For more information regarding the unjust trial of Mohammad Salas please read:
The forced confession of Mohammad Salas under torture unveils another conspiracy taking place during the same period, and that is the death of Mohammad Raji, another Gonabadi Sufi arrested on the same night and killed under torture and buried in total secrecy in the middle of the night. Something that raised many voices internationally both in Europe and US.
#MohammadRaji said “All People Belong to the Human Race”, when expressing Unity & Diversity within all humanity. He was a #GonabadiDervish who was killed under torture by the #Iranian regime. Urgent call for InternationalAwareness. #IranProtests @StateDept pic.twitter.com/SGFU7UI3xQ
— IOPHR (@IOPHRpress) March 7, 2018
For more information regarding the Mohammad Raji please visit:
While the mainstream propaganda of the Iranian regime is creating sections within the Gonabadi Sufi order that have subdued the majority of the Gonabadi dervishes in a state of social coma and turning them against each other for blaming the recent violence imposed on them, on themselves the media and organizations specialized on eradication of Sufis that where created during the last decade are slowly but surely expressing another, more extreme line focused on eradication of the spiritual headmaster of the Gonabadi order and the Sufis as a whole.
We are seeing that same fabricated saying (Revayat) associated with the tenth Imam of the Shia Muslims, resurface on the web, condemning all Sufis as enemies that need to be totally destroyed and not making the distinction of “good” and “bad” Sufis that we see on the mainstream media of the regime.
Blaming Mr Noorali Tabandeh directly for the recent violence was brought up on February 27, 2018, Mohsen Araki, who is the general secretary of the International Islamic Approximation and Islamic Association, and a member of the cleric community of teachers in Qom, saying: “We demand that the headmaster of the Gonabadi Sufi order is put on trial.” This was the first time but by no means, the last time and Mohsen Araki has maintained this extreme line talking about it on several public occasions.
Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a senior officer of the Sepah IRGC, said during his visit to the family of one of the killed Basij that “the one really guilty of the death of the Basij forces is Noorali Tabandeh himself.”
To further confirm the connection between ISIS and the Gonabadi Sufis through propaganda Mohammad Salas is associated with Saudi Arabia which the Iranian regimes blame for the creation of ISIS. Similar photos are fabricated, not to confirm the death sentence of Mohammad Salas but to paint a bigger picture of the Gonabadi Sufis in the eyes and mind of the people.
While other channels spread the propaganda of Sufis being the tool of Zionists in Iran.
In summary, the situation of the Gonabadi Sufis in Iran is urgent. The Gonabadi Sufi dervishes have at the moment no contact with Mr Noorali Tabandeh who is the spiritual headmaster of the Gonabadi Sufi order. All Sufi gathering throughout Iran has been suspended until further notice. The charity centres (Madad kari Reza) and cultural activities such as publishing house of Haqiqat belonging to the Gonabadi Sufi order have been closed and sealed until further notice. The media channels of the Gonabadi dervishes are one by one being closed down and coming to a halt.
The cyber trolls of the Iranian intelligence services are busy creating divisions within the community of the Gonabadi Dervishes and forcing them to self-censure to total passivity so in an isolated environment by the usage of the technique of slowly boiling the frog alive, eradicating the Gonabadi Sufis forever.
The regime propaganda such as, Keyhan, Farsnews, Javanonline, Vatanemrooz, Mashreq, Tasnim, Rajanews and Rasanews are orchestrating under the guidelines and supervision of the Intelligence service of the Sepah and its subdivisions such as “Institute for seeking the truth of Khorasan” (موسسه حق پژوهی در خراسان) and “Institute of religions and sects in Qom” (موسسه ادیان و فرق در قم) and “Institute of the watchtower of the enemy armee of Islamic revolution in Qom” (موسسه دیده بان جبهه معارض انقلاب اسلامی در قم) and the chains of their associated websites, blogs and social media channels such as, Adyannews, Adyannet, Didehbancenter, Ferghenews and Enherafnews are all attacking the Sufis in the worst imaginable manner while Sufis are prohibited of owning any websites or media channels to defend themselves and to share the news of the opression imposed on them.
This is indeed the darkest hour of all the years of persecution against the Sufi dervishes in Iran and if human rights organisations and the international jurists and politicians do not act in the most decisive and firm manner taking a clear position against this inhumane and unjust treatment of the Gonabadi Sufis, it will surely bare catastrophic consequences for the world.
Jurists of The International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR)
Brussels – 2nd of March 2018
For more information regarding the recent events and the violence against the Gonabadi Dervishes and their spiritual headmanster Dr Noorali Tabandeh please read: