A mosque in the religious city of Mashhad

Fall In Mosque-Goers In Iran Now ‘Highly Alarming’ - Minister

Tuesday, 12/12/2023

The fall in mosque attendance in Iran is now “highly alarming”, according to a senior government minister.

Speaking on Tuesday, Minister of Culture Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili was commenting on the number of active mosques, which figures earlier this year revealed have gone down by a third.

He said: "Today, the figures and statistics circulating regarding active mosques are highly alarming. Active mosques are not merely places where congregational prayers are held three times a day. It seems a significant number of our mosques lack even this minimal function."

His remarks come at a time when Iranians are increasingly critical of the regime's alignment with Islam, with protests erupting since September 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody for a hijab-related offense.

In February, a senior Iranian cleric, Mohammad Abolghassem Doulabi, revealed that 50,000 out of 75,000 mosques nationwide had been closed due to a significant decline in attendance. Doulabi, an intermediary between President Ebrahim Raisi's administration and the country's seminaries, expressed concern over the fall and its implications for a state founded on Islamic principles.

Also a member of the influential Assembly of Experts, Doulabi suggested that the way in which Islamic practices are enforced in Iran have led to people distancing themselves from religion. He highlighted factors including "the humiliation of people in the name of religion," "falsification of religious concepts and teachings," and "depriving people of a decent life and creating poverty in the name of religion" as reasons for the decline.

The minister of culture had called for more mosque-based events in August to rekindle faith and draw Iranians back to mosques. Esmaili said: "The majority of cultural and artistic activities should take place in mosques."

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