Sunni Muslims were barred from holding congregational Eid prayers in parts of Tehran yesterday, with security forces preventing them from entering buildings they had rented for prayer.
Security forces were deployed early in the morning around Sunni prayer sites in parts of Tehran on 5 October 2014, the day Iran celebrated Eid al-Adha, and prevented Sunni Muslims from entering prayer sites in the Sadeghiya district in northwest Tehran, and in Sa’adat Abad, north Tehran.
Despite Sunnis being the largest religious minority in the Shia majority Iran, with records indicating that there are more than a million Sunnis living in Tehran alone, the Iranian government has prevented a Sunni mosque from being built in Tehran.
According to the website of the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’; “There is currently no Sunni mosque in the capital, despite there being several churches and synagogues for much smaller Christian and Jewish populations.”
The Sunni citizens of Tehran are instead forced to use rented rooms and spaces as ‘namaz khaneh’ (prayer rooms) to hold obligatory Sunni congregational prayers, with restrictions forcing some to organize Sunni prayers in their own homes and private spaces.
The Sunni minority in the Shia dominated Iran faces widespread discrimination and restrictions on their worship.
In August this year, security forces raided numerous Sunni homes across Tehran for holding congregational prayers, preventing worshipers from entering the buildings and threatening them with arrest if they attempted to hold congregational prayers again.
Security forces also raided a Sunni mosque during Eid prayers in the town of Kani Kozaleh in Sanandaj in July 2014, with security forces deployed around several other Sunni mosques across Sanandaj preventing Eid prayers from being held.
Seven Sunni men from Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority were arrested during Ramadan this year, after holding congregational Taraweeh prayers in the north of Ahwaz city, Khuzestan province of Iran, and a Sunni mosque, Masjid Rizvanshahr, in Talesh, Gilan province, was closed down by Iranian security forces on 19 May 2014.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement last year urging Iran to lift restrictions on Sunni worship, after Iranian security forces prevented Sunni Muslims from holding prayers for Eid-al Adha in parts of Tehran in October 2013.
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