The outspoken Sunni Imam of Zahedan, Mowlavi Abdolhamid, has reiterated that the Islamic Republic authorities are the main culprits behind the a massacre in his city. 

The crackdown on protesters in Zahedan, the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, known as the Bloody Friday, took place September 30, when security forces killed more than 80 people, including women and children.

During a meeting with the directors of Sunni religious schools of the province’s Coordination Council on Wednesday, December 21, Abdolhamid, the top religious leader of Iran's largely Sunni Baluch population living in the province, rejected the narrative of the regime about the tragic incident, saying that the Bloody Friday cannot be reduced to some errors by the security forces. 

Underlining that the killing in Zahedan was “a premeditated plot,” he repeated his demands for the prosecution of the perpetrators of this massacre.

He also rejected statements by officials, including a delegation sent by Iran’s ruler Ali Khamenei in November, about protesters attacking a police station before security forces opened fire at them. He emphasized that security forces fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters in Zahedan, insisting that the attack was unprovoked. 

Molavi Abdolhamid among supporters before the current protests began

"We have evidence that... the police station was not attacked at all and not even a single person went towards the police station. After people were shot at from the police station, some of them moved towards the police station, and pelted stones at the station,” he highlighted. 

The claim that the police station was attacked by an armed gang is not true at all, he said, adding that not even one military officer was killed in the incident. 

Abdolhamid said that the whole tragedy was a plot by the regime, noting that discrimination against Sunnis and Sunni mosques had already started in several cities before September 30. He added that “the governor of Mashhad had announced that he would not allow any Sunni prayer house to operate in his city. In Tehran, they said either bring a permit or we will close the prayer hall."

The Sunni cleric went on to explain that the main cause of such as incident is the "discrimination against Sunnis" in Iran, saying, "When the government discriminates against Sunnis and they are barred from holding any important positions in the armed forces and the judicial system, it is clear that officers beat our people mercilessly."

Officially known as Sheikh Abdolhamdid Esmailzehi, the Sunni cleric is widely popular because for his willingness to challenge Khamenei’s absolute authority. An audio file recently leaked by the hacktivist group Black Reward revealed that the Islamic Republic planned to tarnish Abdolhamid’s reputation to curb his influence. In November, the outspoken Sunni Imam said women, ethnic and religious groups, and minorities have faced discrimination after the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. He has also called for an internationally monitored referendum in Iran saying by killing and suppression the government cannot push back a nation.

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