An Iranian cleric named Mojtaba Hosseini has been stabbed several times in his back during his sermon in the city of Karaj in Western Tehran, according to a local official.
Morteza Mousavi, the deputy police commander of Alborz province close to the capital, said on Friday that the assault happened Thursday evening. He was taken to the hospital and is now in stable condition.
The attacker was only identified as an Iranian and a self-proclaimed follower of Muhammad al-Mahdi, believed by the Twelver Shiites to be the last of the Imams and the eschatological Mahdi, who will emerge in the end of time to establish peace and justice and redeem Islam.
Several Iranian clerics have come under attack by angry Iranians recently as rising prices and constant protests have led to a tense environment in the country.
Earlier in July, a congregational prayer imam was injured in an assassination attempt by an assailant on a motorcycle in the city of Esfahan.
In early June, the representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader in the central city of Esfahan was attacked by a young man carrying a knife. And in April, a man stabbed three clerics in Iran's largest Shiite shrine in Mashhad, killing two of them.
Earlier in the year, a senior Islamic scholar said that clerics and seminary students are avoiding their usual garb for fear of being insulted in public, as the people in Iran blame the clergy for the current hardships they experience, including high prices and corruption. Another well-known cleric also talked about the growing hatred and grudge towards the clergy in January, warning of a crisis unfolding in society.