RFL/RE – A senior Sunni cleric in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan, who disclosed the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a local police commander, has been summoned to a special court for clerics.
According to Haalvsh, a group that monitors rights violations of the Sunni minority in Iran, Molavi Abdul Ghaffar Naqshbandi was summoned to a court in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad in a phone call. In response, he asked court officials to send him a written summons, in accordance with the law, the report adds.
The report emphasized that the summoning of Naqshbandi comes after an apparent attempt to discredit a top Sunni cleric by the local representative of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Last month, a leaked document from the hard-line Fars news agency said Khamenei told security and military officials to try and disgrace Molavi Abdolhamid, a spiritual leader for Iran’s Sunni Muslim population, who is a vocal critic of the government, instead of arresting him.SEE ALSO:Leaked Document Says Iranian Leadership Is Seeking To Discredit Sunni Cleric
Following the news of the alleged assault by the Chabahar police commander on a 15-year-old girl, the people of the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan took to the streets in protest on September 30. They demanded accountability and were met with a violent and bloody response from security forces.
Almost 100 people were killed, and hundreds more injured by security forces in the unrest, which came on top of protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the morality police.
Earlier, Molavi Abdolhamid said senior officials, including Khamenei, were “responsible” for the killing of protesters during the so-called “Bloody Friday” massacre in Zahedan.
He also called for an immediate referendum with the presence of international observers to “change policies based on the wishes of the people.”
The Iranian government has unleashed a brutal crackdown on weeks of unrest — one of the deepest challenges to the Islamic regime since the revolution in 1979 — that erupted following the September 16 death of Amini while she was in detention for allegedly wearing her hijab, or head scarf, improperly.
Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the population in Sistan-Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran where Molavi Abdolhamid is based, but account for only about 10 percent of the population in Shi’a-dominated Iran overall.
Since Amini’s death, more than 400 people have been killed in the police crackdown, according to rights groups. Several thousand more have been arrested, including many protesters, as well as journalists, lawyers, activists, digital rights defenders, and others.