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Hundred wounded in clashes in Iran clerical capital

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:47 pm    Post subject: Hundred wounded in clashes in Iran clerical capital Reply with quote

Hundred wounded in clashes in Iran clerical capital

52 minutes ago


TEHRAN (AFP) - Some 100 people were wounded in two days of clashes in Iran's clerical capital of Qom, pitting Muslim mystics against the security forces and hardline supporters of the official brand of Shiite Islam, the deputy governor said in comments.

Thirty-four security personnel were among the wounded in the disturbances Monday and Tuesday, Qom deputy governor Ahmad Hajizadeh told Tehran newspapers.

"After the destruction of the Shariyat prayer hall and the arrest of 1,200 dervishes (mystics), calm has returned to Qom," Hajizadeh told the Shargh daily.

"Thirty of the wounded remain in hospital, three of them in serious condition," he added.

"Those arrested are currently being questioned and apart from the ringleaders, they are gradually being released," he said, adding that 150 women who had initially been detained had all been freed.

Local authorities said the mystics were members of a Sufi order called the Nematollahi who had failed to heed orders to vacate a prayer hall in the city by a deadline of last Friday.

Hajizadeh charged that the sect's leaders had reneged on an earlier agreement to respect the deadline and had instead bussed in supporters from around Iran to hold a sit-in in and around the site.

"Eight-five percent of those who took part in the disturbances did not come from Qom and were armed, some of them with firearms," he said.

The Islamic mysticism followed by an array of Sufi orders since the early centuries of the faith has always aroused suspicion among orthodox Muslims, whether Shiite or Sunni.

In Shiite Islam, some Sufi orders have been further tarnished by the accusation of heresy because of their association with the heterodox Alevi faith practised in parts of Syria and Turkey.

The city of Qom, south of Tehran, is the centre within Iran of the country's official Shiite religion. The denomination's main centres of Najaf and Karbala both lie in neighbouring Iraq.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 2:56 pm    Post subject: 1,000 arrested after police and Sufis clash in Iran Reply with quote

1,000 arrested after police and Sufis clash in Iran
15 Feb 2006 13:32:58 GMT

Source: Reuters


TEHRAN, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Iranian police have arrested around 1,000 people in the central seminary city of Qom after violent clashes over the closure of a house of worship used by mystical Sufi Muslims, city officials said on Wednesday.

Officials and a Qom resident said the police had fired teargas to disperse a crowd of dervishes, or mystics, and those who had gathered to support them. They said the dervishes were armed with knives and stones.

Around 200 people were hurt in the clash, one official said.

The fighting erupted on Monday after the Sufis refused to evacuate a suburban house where they had been congregating for dervish rites, said an official at Qom municipality who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The violence ended and their place was knocked down on Tuesday," he said, adding the municipality had demolished the building because the Sufis had illegally turned their residential building into a centre of worship.

Sufi Muslim spirituality is tolerated under mainly Shi'ite Iran's strict Islamic laws, although some senior religious figures occasionally call for a clampdown on its rites.

The governor-general of Qom accused the dervishes of being part of a foreign plot, but he did not explain this.

"We did not aim to confront them at first, but when we felt that ... a plot was under way, we took steps," Abbas Mohtaj was quoted as saying by the Jomhuri-ye Eslami newspaper.

"The arrogant powers are exploiting every opportunity to create insecurity in our country and (the Sufis') links to foreign countries are evident," he added. Mohtaj said about 200 people had been hurt and around 1,000 arrested.

The Sufis' mystical path to God through dance and music does not go down well with some of the most senior religious figures in the country.

Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamedani in September called for a clampdown on dervish groups in the holy city of Qom, which he called a "danger to Islam".

Some said the tensions with dervishes in Qom were due to the increasing popularity of Sufism there.

"Dervishes were becoming popular in Qom and the officials wanted to crackdown on them," said an employee at one of Qom's reformist seminaries.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2006 3:50 pm    Post subject: Iran Press News Flash - News & information translated fr Reply with quote

From: "Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi"
Subject: Iran Press News Flash - News & information translated from our Persian section
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 2006 09:48:57 -0500

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006
Iran Press News Flash - News & information translated from our Persian section

Below: Photos of The Mullahs pathetic donkey parade in the Tehran suburb of Karadj, on Tuesday, Feb. 14th...
...and the rage of impotence against the world


The Islamic regime threatens to execute all political prisoners

Photo of Hodjat Zamani who is said to have been exectued

Kousha Website reports: ?A few days ago political prisoners were threatened with mass execution if the regimes nuclear dossier is referred to the United Nations Security Council. Political prisoner, Valiollah Fayz-Mahdavi (http://www.iranpressnews.com/english/source/007281.html) was distinctly threatened by Mohammad Djaroui, warden of ward 6 of Gowhardasht prison; Djaroui specifically told Fayz-Mahdavi: ?In the case of the regimes referral to the Security Council each and every one of you will be put to death.? Hodjat Zamani was abruptly taken away [from his cell] and he has not as of yet either been returned to his cell or known to have been transferred elsewhere either (http://www.iranpressnews.com/english/source/010662.html). Several other political prisoners who have been sentenced to death are: Gholamhossein Kolbee, Khaled Hardani, Mansour Pour-Farhang, Shahram Pour-Farhang and Alireza Khayrabadi who are all being detained in Evin Prison. The prosecutors office and the national prison offices of both Evin and Gowhardasht prisons have circulated the news about last weeks apparent hanging of political prisoner Hodjat Zamani and have explicitly notified the others that their executions are imminent.

It is of course all done out of utter cowardice, to kill the weak and take revenge on subjugated and bound prisoners at the spur of the moment; that has long been the way of tyranny.?


Islamic regimes bulldozers destroy Sufi gathering place in Qom

According to reports from the regime-run site ENTEKHOB, the several-day long resistance of the Nematollahi Sufi Dervishes (http://erfan-gonabadi.com/) to the closing of their Hosseini'yeh (spiritual center) came to a brutal end on Monday night, Feb. 13th as fundamentalist groups gathered and chanted "Death to Sufism", leading to violence and finally the destruction of the Hosseini'yeh.

Passers by reported that there was no trace of the brand-new building of the Hosseini'yeh by late Tuesday morning, Feb. 14th. A resident of Qom reported: "Several of the city's streets have now been officially closed down to traffic, the electricity in that area has also been shut off and it feels just like martial law. They are beating people. Some of the Sufis who are Imam Ali worshippers were attacked in their spiritual center and the security forces took the blankets inside the center and set them on fire because they had done a peaceful sit-in for days to protect their Hosseini?yeh. Ambulances were coming and going. The stores are all closed..."


Commander of security forces in Qom: 500 Sufis have been arrested

AFTAB, the regime-run website reports that in the recent clashes in Qom 500 Sufis were arrested. Commander Taheri, the director of the security forces in Qom, in an interview with the political reporter of AFTAB said: "Every one of the 500 arrested were armed with guns and knives and were dangerous. There were also 150 people who were severely injured but no one was killed."

Editors note: It is entirely against the Nematollahi beliefs for any of the devotees to carry any form of weapon?gun, knives or anything else. This once again is another instance of lies and false accusation of the regime against peaceful people who ?threaten? them.


One dead, 250 women and children among the arrested in Qom

From the blog of Qom journalist, Hamed Mottaghi


Last night after hours of resistance, the anti-riot forces that had surrounded the Hosseini'yeh, having arrested the Sufis residents who had also been protecting the premises, were able to gain entrance into the Hosseini'yeh. Though they reported that they had arrested 500 people, they had actually arrested more like 1000 Sufis who were inside and were conducting a peaceful sit-in. Based on reports from various sources, around 250 women and children were among the arrested. Witnesses reported that the when arrested were being taken away, a few [of the regimes decoys and fundamentalists] among the crowd were outside calling the arrested Sufis, Najis (unclean) and physically attacked them.

The streets were still crowded at 2 A.M. when the bulldozers arrived at the scene to tear down the Hosseini'yeh.

People were saying that a group who had broken down the doors of the adjacent building to the Hosseini'yeh, were able to gain access to the inside, destroying and tossing the place and setting fire to anything flammable they could find. Witnesses say that a lawyer?s office that was in the area was also destroyed and his files were thrown out into the street. Today, the street the Hosseini'yeh was located on was closed to traffic; the bulldozers continued to destroy that building and a few other buildings belonging to a well-respected local Doctor.

Today, in the surrounding streets the same fundamentalists who were there the night before were standing around and got into a fight with people who liked and respected the Sufis and were against it clashed and street fights ensued.

This morning (Tuesday) the governor of the province of Qom was interviewed by some members of the media where he spoke of the siege and destruction of the Hosseini'yeh. Many members of the media who came from varied political views and opinions all seemed to agree and they clearly and angrily stated their opposition to the events of the last 3 days of this brutality in Qom and how innocent people were so savagely attacked. The governor however made an excuse, saying that he had some meeting and fled the press briefing.

Many of the Dervishes who were badly beaten and injured are now laid up in hospitals and some are in critical conditions.

A few hours ago we got news that Abdolhasan Bahrami, esteemed professor of literature, resident of Qom [and relative of the one of the elders of the Nematollahi tradition and is known to the people of Qom as Shariat Senior] died in the hospital as a result of severe injuries he sustained during the first series of incidents on January 19th.


Islamic Armed forces need a morale boost

KAYHAN, the mouthpiece newspaper belonging to the Fuehrer-Mullah, Khamnei, in its Tuesday, Feb. 14th edition confessed to the widespread fear and distress among the Islamic regimes armed forces at the likelihood of a military strike and quoted Mullah Hasani, the ideological and political director of the Islamic regimes air force in saying that the regimes army is in need desperate need of a morale boost.

In paraphrasing the horrified Mullah, the newspaper also wrote: "We must make broad efforts of a cultural nature in order to lift the spiritual and material disposition of our military personnel; we should take effective measures to stand up to the threats of the various enemies. Our troops, more than anything require psychological support."


Islamic regime MP: "The Russians are just as scary as the rest of the west & even the U.S."

Falahat-peesheh, representative of Western Eslamabad in the Islamic Parliaments Assembly and member of the Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said: "The Russians are just as scary as the rest of the west and even the U.S." Falahat-peesheh who was interviewed by the regime-run news agency ISKANEWS added: "When it comes to the Islamic regimes nuclear dossier, the Russians have tried to promote some kind of entrepreneurial policy and it is exactly these tactics of theirs that leads us to believe them to be dangerous. The Russians consider their staying power to be directly dependant on their 'brokering' and they've even utilized this kind of policy in regards to Hamas therefore one must be entirely suspicious of their supporting the regimes nuclear issues. Russians have mistaken us with Iraqis; Iraq was forced to make concessions to the Russians in order to insure its survival but where the Islamic regime is concerned, they have no legal leverage and we have done nothing wrong to surrender any such privileges to the Russians. "
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 8:04 pm    Post subject: Qom Authorities Crack Down On Sufis Reply with quote

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Qom Authorities Crack Down On Sufis

February 16, 2006
Radio Free Europe
Golnaz Esfandiari


PRAGUE -- In what observers say is an unprecedented crackdown, authorities in the Iranian city of Qom have arrested over 1,000 followers of the mystical Sufi tradition of Islam. The Iranian government had been showing signs of increasing antipathy towards Iran's Sufi community, but experts say the scale and violence of the clashes on 13 [February] is unheard of.

The deputy governor of Qom, Ahmad Hajizadeh, said 1,200 worshippers -- also known as dervishes -- were arrested as police sought to close a Sufi house of worship.

Hajizadeh said 100 people, including more than 30 police officers, were injured in the clashes.

Officials in Qom say the Sufis had illegally turned a residential building into a center of worship and had refused to leave it.

Some of the dervishes were armed, they add.

Representatives of the dervishes deny the charges and say they are being targeted due to the increasing popularity of Sufism.

Figures produced by sources close to the Sufi groups and human rights activists also differ from official accounts. They put the number of the arrests at 2,000 and say that 350 people were injured.

Following the clashes, the authorities demolished the house of worship as well as the homes of two leaders of the group.

Clash Between 'Dervishes And Fanatics' Entering A New Phase?

Sufism is based on the pursuit of mystical truth and Sufis believe that mystical practices involving dance, music, and the recitation of Allah's divine names can give them direct perception of God.

Although Sufi Muslims strictly observe Islamic practices and beliefs, some conservative Muslim clerics see it as a danger to Islam. Some even argue that Sufism is a deviation of Islam.

In Iran, there have been always some tensions between Sufism and more orthodox traditions of Islam.

However, observers say these tensions have worsened since the establishment of an Islamic republic, some 27 years ago, and state tolerance for Sufi groups has diminished.

Never before, though, has there been an attack as strong as seen this week, says Abdol-Karim Lahidji, vice president of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights.

"Unfortunately under the years of the rule of the Islamic government we have seen limitations on non-Muslims -- above all, Baha'is, Jews, and also Christians -- and on Sufi groups, and their meetings have been disrupted," says Lahidji, but "it is unprecedented in the modern history of Iran that a Sufi group should be treated" as it was in Qom.

Seyed Mostafa Azmayesh, a Paris-based scholar who specializes in Sufism, says that the Qom clashes mark "a new phase…between dervishes and fanatics -- a phase of violent encounter -- because until now only the leaders of [Sufi] groups were under pressure. Now, though, there is a confrontation with ordinary people who are facing pressure merely because they are dervishes."

Qom Not A New Target

The Qom worshippers belong to the Nematollahi Gonabadi order of Sufism, one of the largest Sufi groups in Iran and a strand of Sufism that Azmayesh represents outside Iran.

Azmayesh says that pressure on Sufis -- and "especially on the Nematollahi Gonabadi order" -- has increased "a lot" since the hard-liner Mahmud Ahamdinejad succeeded Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami as Iran's president in June 2005.

"Now unfortunately, when the pressure groups and fanatics want to repress the Sufis, those who enforce the laws are not stopping them," says Azamayesh.

Several anti-Sufi books have been published in Iran over the past year and several clerics have also harshly condemned Sufism, Azamayesh says, noting that the recent clashes in Qom erupted after a speech by a cleric, who blasted Sufism and called for restrictions on the Sufi community.

Iran's hard-line daily "Kayhan" on 14 February quoted senior clerics in Qom as saying that Sufism should be eradicated in the city, while the Reuters news agency reported that in September one of Iran's hard-line clerics, Grand Ayatollah Hussein Nuri-Hamedani, called for a clampdown on Sufis in Qom.

Qom is considered to be one of the centers of Shi'a Islam.

The governor of Qom, Abbas Mohtaj, has reportedly accused the dervishes of having links to foreign countries.

However, Azmayesh believes that Sufis are being targeted because of their "more open interpretation of Islam" and also because Sufism is picking up more followers.

"More than before, people are running away from a totalitarian interpretation of the religion, they are having doubts, and they have lost faith in the work of those who consider themselves custodians of religion," he maintains. "By contrast, they feel very close to the Sufi teachings and its customs, which are based on love."

Azmayesh says there is currently an "inverse trend" in Iran: "as mosques empty, [Sufi houses of worship] are expanding and being filled."

Iranian officials have said that the arrested dervishes will be interrogated and those who were not among the "main elements and instigators" will gradually be released. Some have already been freed, many of them women.
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