Friday, February 23, 2018

  • Friday, February 23, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Dervish protest on February 19th that turned violent


This report from Iranian mouthpiece PressTV needs to be read between the lines:

Iranian mourners have held a funeral ceremony for the police forces who lost their lives in a recent wave of attacks by members of a Dervish cult in northern Tehran.

The attacks took place overnight on Monday during an unauthorized gathering by the so-called Gonabadi Dervishes near a police station, during which they engaged in clashes with ordinary people and police forces, according to officials.

During the clashes, an attacker ploughed a bus through a group of policemen, killing three of them.

Two members of the Basij volunteer force also lost their lives in separate car-ramming and stabbing attacks at the site. A funeral ceremony was also held for the pair on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Thursday funeral, the Iranian interior minister said the deadly riots in northern Tehran were yet another plot designed by enemies to put pressure on Iran.

“Over the past months, we have witnessed a host of pressure tactics in various areas...which are indicative of hostilities by the US and the Zionist regime,” Rahmani Fazli said, adding, “We are well aware of their plots.”

The Iranian police chief also addressed the crowd of mourners, vowing that law enforcement forces will give a firm response to any group seeking to disrupt public order and security.

“We do not at allow any cult, group or political movement to endanger security, and we will decisively deal with them,” Ashtari added.

More than 300 people, among them the drivers of the bus and the car as well as the main elements behind the incident, had been arrested.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Dervish cult strongly condemned the attacks, calling for the perpetrators of acts of violence to be brought to justice.
The Gonabadi Dervishes are a Sufi group which has been persecuted by Iran for decades, but there is hardly any information about this. A good description of their persecutions comes from, of all places, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, as help to determine if this group can be considered potential political refugees:

Radio Free Europe gives a synopsis:
The Nematollahi Gonabadi order is Iran's largest Sufi order, with members across the country, including in major cities like Tehran and Isfahan. Like most Iranians, they are followers of Shi'a Islam. They pray five times a day and fast during the month of Ramadan. Their rituals include reading spiritual poetry.

The Gonabadi dervishes view Sufism as a way of life through which one can find God. They strongly oppose the use of drugs and preach tolerance. Perhaps more crucially in the current context, they believe that religion and politics should be separated.

Their leader or "pole" is 90-year-old Paris-educated lawyer Nurali Tabandeh, who defended several political prisoners before and after the 1979 revolution. Dervishes have said that Tabandeh's safety is their "red line."

In recent weeks, dozens of dervishes have staged a sit-in outside Tabandeh's residence in northern Tehran to protect him. They say they became concerned after at least one occasion in which plainclothes agents, believed to be affiliated with security organs, swarmed his street, with clashes ensuing.

Iran's clerical establishment has long opposed any group that it regards as a threat to its monopoly on religion.

Dervishes say their growing popularity is the reason behind the state pressure they face. They claim to have between 2 million and 5 million members in Iran and abroad. They say their tight-knit community also concerns Iranian authorities.

Some conservative clerics have called the Sufis a danger to Islam. Ayatollah Hossein Nuri Hamedani, a high-ranking cleric in Qom, said in 2006 that by not engaging in politics, Sufis weaken Islam. Hard-liners have also accused the dervishes of being used by foreign powers to create discord within Iranian society.

In 2007, a letter was published by a group describing themselves as seminarians of Qom in which the signatories warned of the "dangers" of Sufism and called on authorities to deal with it "more firmly." They added that the "Hizbullah nation of Iran" is ready to cooperate and assist officials.

Amnesty International says the persecution of dervishes increased after an October 2010 speech by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who denounced "newly created circles of false mysticism."

Sufis, who believe one can reach a direct union with God, and Orthodox Muslims have long been at odds in Iran. The tensions have worsened since the creation of the Islamic republic as state tolerance for Sufis has decreased.

What Kind Of Pressure Have They Faced?

Dervishes have complained of state pressure and harassment for years.

Some of their houses of worship have been destroyed in past years, while hundreds of members have been detained and more than a dozen have been sentenced to prison terms, lashes, or internal exile.

In 2006, a Sufi house of worship was destroyed in Qom and 1,000 dervishes were detained following clashes that reportedly left 100 injured. Authorities claimed the Sufis had illegally turned a presidential building into a center of worship and had refused to vacate it.
There is a systematic oppression and demonization of a Muslim group in Iran that has millions of members - and the media essentially ignores it.




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