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01/30/2023 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Molavi Abdolhamid, an Iranian Sunni cleric has publicly spoken out in favor of respecting the rights of Iran’s religious minority groups and urged the government to provide the reform that protestors have been pushing for since September.

Iran is predominantly Shi’a Muslim, which is the state religion. Abdolhamid is a part of Iran’s Sunni Baluch minority. Other religious minority groups in Iran include Jews, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and Christians. These minority groups have faced oppression and discrimination, especially since the revolution that established the Islamic Republic in 1979.

The persecution that these minority groups have faced has increased with the recent protests. Members of religious minority groups have been charged with apostasy, despite never having been Muslim to begin with. The Baha’i minority has been especially targeted by this. In his sermon, Abdolhamid said, “We sympathize with all Iranians. Muslims and non-Muslims must respect human rights.”

After over 100 days of protests in the women-led revolution, the pressure on Iran’s Islamic republic, both from within the country and the international community, continues to increase.

Abdolhamid, among others, has spoken against the state’s violent suppression of protests and pushed for reform. Protest suppression has included violent attacks on protestors by Iranian police, which have left many dead and injured, and the jailing and public execution of protestors. Many protestors who were arrested were charged in sham trials with ‘Moharebeh’ or ‘waging war against god.’ The punishment for this crime is execution.

In response to pressure from the international community, the Islamic Republic has canceled or postponed a few planned executions. With continued pressure from all around the world, and voices from within Iran such as Abdolhamid and Iranian protestors, many remain hopeful of the change to come.

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