Friday , 2 June 2023

Outspoken Iranian Sunni Cleric Calls For Halt In Executions

Iranwire – Iran’s leading Sunni cleric has spoken against the Islamic Republic’s extensive use of capital punishment, saying that the Iranian people are “against the death penalty.”

“The Iranian nation condemns executions and doesn’t want executions anywhere in Iran or in the world,” Molavi Abdolhamid said in his Friday prayer sermon on January 27, amid a bloody crackdown by the Iranian authorities on more than four months of nationwide protests.

“We also call on Saudi Arabia to stop executions. There is no execution in Islam, except in special cases. Retribution [can be applied] in cases of murder. It can also be prevented with the consent of the victims’ loved ones,” said Molavi, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of Zahedan, the capital of southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province.

Molavi has been a key dissenting voice inside the country since the eruption of the ongoing anti-government demonstrations triggered by the September death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of Tehran’s morality police. He has repeatedly denounced the crackdown on the women-led protest movement and urged Iran’s Shia clerical leaders to listen to the Iranian people instead of repressing them.

Activists say security forces have killed more than 520 people and detained over 18,000 in connection with the protests. After biased trials, around 20 people were handed capital punishment, mostly on non-murder charges. Four of them have been executed so far amid international outrage.

The demonstrations and clampdown on dissent have been particularly intense in the country’s western Kurdish areas and Sistan and Baluchistan province, home to Iran’s beleaguered Sunni Baluch community.

Human rights groups say the Baluch and Kurdish communities have faced discrimination and repression for decades. According to the latest information available, the authorities have executed 151 Baluch citizens in 2022, compared to 70 the previous year.

Each week on Fridays, hundreds of people are taking to the streets of Zahedan and other cities across Sistan and Baluchestan after Friday prayers, despite the heavy presence of security forces, chanting slogans against the Islamic republic.