Despite Roadblocks, Residents In Iran's Zahedan Again Hold Anti-Government Protests
By RFE/RL's Radio Farda January 20, 2023
Anti-government protesters took to the streets after Friday Prayers in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan, despite attempts by security forces to ward off demonstrations by choking off the main roads leading through the city.
Molavi Abdulmajid, an adviser to Molavi Abdolhamid, a spiritual leader for Iran's Sunni Muslim population, said in an interview with RFERL's Radio Farda that military forces had set up checkpoints in the city on January 20 in "an attempt to create terror in the city after the appointment of the new commander of the country's police force."
Abdulmajid said the Islamic republic wants them to stop the demonstrations, which were sparked by the death of a young woman in September while in police custody in Tehran and exacerbated by a brutal crackdown, known as Bloody Friday, in Zahedan.
"Until the issue of Bloody Friday and the people of Zahedan who were killed and injured is resolved, this situation will continue," Abdulmajid added.
During the Bloody Friday massacre in Zahedan on September 30, almost 100 people were killed and hundreds injured by security forces during unrest triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini and the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl by a local police commander.
Meanwhile, Abdolhamid once again criticized government officials and the security situation in Sistan-Baluchistan Province in his sermon on January 20, saying in a thinly veiled reference to 83-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that "80-year-olds and 90-year-olds should not make decisions for today's youth."
Abdolhamid is the director of the main Sunni seminary in Iran and has been under pressure for his comments against the Islamic republic.
Videos published on social media after prayers on January 20 showed fresh demonstrations in Zahedan with people chanting anti-government slogans.
Anger over Amini's death on September 16 has prompted thousands of Iranians to take to the streets nationwide to demand more freedoms and women's rights. The widespread unrest represents the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.
The activist HRANA news agency said that, as of January 15, at least 522 people had been killed during the unrest, including 70 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.
Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the population in Sistan-Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran where Abdolhamid is based but make up only about 10 percent of the population in Shi'a-dominated Iran overall.
Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda
Copyright (c) 2023. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|