Sunni spiritual leader decries discrimination against religious minorities

Sunni spiritual leader decries discrimination against religious minorities

The spiritual leader of Iran’s Sunni minority says the country’s religious minorities continue to suffer discrimination, despite the pledges of the leaders of the revolution to ensure equal treatment for all.

Molavi Abdol-Hamid (Radio Farda)

Molavi Abdol-Hamid, 72, speaking to Radio Farda, noted that nearly four decades since the revolution that made Twelver Imams’ Shi’a the religion of the state, the constitution still prevents members of minority religions, such as Sunnis, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, from serving in high state positions.

After years of writing unanswered letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Abdol-Hamid received a surprise response in September 2017.

In a letter published on the state-state-run news agency ISNA, Khamenei said the Iranian regime was “duty-bound” by the “pillars of the Islamic Republic” not to discriminate against its citizens.

However, at the same time, Article 12 of the constitution proclaims that Twelver Imans’ Shi’a is the official denomination of Iran, while Article 115 stipulates that the roles of Supreme Leader and President must be held only by Shi’ites.

Abdol-Hamid, who is the Friday Prayer Leader of Zahedan, noted that in the Sunni-majority province of Sistan & Baluchestan, only six to 12 per cent of public employees are Sunnis.

He added that Shi’ite leaders continue to “promote discrimination” against Sunnis, who make up around 9% of the population, “as a necessity”, and “use their influence to deprive Sunnis of the right to serve in high public positions”.

Abdol-Hamid said Iran’s leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani, were “well informed of these facts” but had failed to “take the necessary steps towards addressing the problem”.