TEHRAN, May 4 (Reuters) An Iranian court has sentenced 52 members of the Sufi Muslim sect to jail on various charges including disturbing the public, a newspaper today said.
The Islamic Republic largely tolerates Sufi Muslims whose belief in a mystical path to God through dance and music does not go down well with some of Iran's most senior religious figures.
Some 1,000 Sufis were arrested in February during clashes which broke out after authorities ordered the closure of a house of worship used by mystical Sufis in the central seminary city of Qom.
Most of them were later released.
''Each of them has been sentenced to a one year jail term, some fines and 74 lashes,'' Farshid Yadollahi, their lawyer, was quoted by the Kargozaran newspaper as saying.
The court in the city of Qom found the Sufis, who were free on bail, guilty of a range of crimes including disobeying police orders and disturbing public order, said the lawyer, who also has been sentenced by the court.
''I and another lawyer of this case have also been sentenced to a one year jail term and 74 lashes,'' Yadollahi said. ''We have also been banned from practicing law for five years.'' The convicted are entitled to appeal their verdicts within 20 days.
Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani in September called for a clampdown on Sufi groups in the holy city of Qom, which he called a ''danger to Islam''.
REUTERS SY VV1840