In Iran, Sunnis backing popular protests
Key Sunni figures have expressed support for the ongoing protests in Iran. Prominent Sunni leader Molana Abdolhamid blames Iran's Supreme Leader and his lieutenants for the current carnage in the country.
Apparently, the ongoing popular protests have made little effects on the functioning of the clerical regime in Tehran. In reality, however, the protests must be shaking the regime.
Observers say the protest that started with the killing of Kurdish 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the country's 'hijab police' custody on September 16 has intensified across Iran over the last couple of months. The Shiite regime in Tehran has been callous in its response to the protests.
Last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the United States and Israel for the protests sweeping the country. He said "riots" had been "engineered" by Iran's arch-enemies and their allies.
The other day, Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian accused Israel and Western intelligence agencies of trying to start a civil war and divide Iran.
In dealing with the current protests, the regime has disproportionately targeted Sunnis and other minorities. Over 163 of the 378 people killed by security forces as of 19 November 2022 were in the Baluchistan and Kurdistan provinces. The mostly-Sunni city of Zahedan has borne the brunt of state violence.
The international mood is turning increasingly critical of Tehran. The United States has voiced support for the ongoing protests in Iran. It has imposed sanctions on some Iranian officials for their treatment of protesters.
The United Kingdom has told leaders in Tehran that "instead of blaming external actors for the unrest, they should take responsibility for their actions and listen to the concerns of their people."
More importantly, key Sunni figures have expressed support for the ongoing protests in Iran. The Sunnis in Baluchistan have found a leader in the Shaykh al-Islam of Zahedan, Molana Abdolhamid. Abdolhamid blames Iran's Supreme Leader and his lieutenants for the current carnage in the country.
The opposition of the Sunnis to the Shiite regime in Tehran is deep-rooted. According to a recent study, Iran's Sunni minority constitutes around ten per cent of Iran's total population (86 million). But they have had little political voice in the country.
Iranians must be Shia to serve in numerous high-level governmental offices-including the Assembly of Experts, the Expediency Council, and the Guardian Council. Only twelve of the 277 members elected to the Assembly of Religious Experts today are Sunnis. Only six per cent (121 out of 1,996) of Iran's elected Members of Parliament are Sunnis.
(Jagdish N. Singh is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He is also Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, New York)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.