Most Iranians have been fooled into believing that the Safavid Dynasty was a Golden Age in Iran, a period that witnessed a cultural flowering under the charismatic Isma’il and and his son Tahmasp, the first two Shahs of the dynasty. Iran’s border were restored again and other romanticised half-truths. What most Iranians are not told (neither by the Shia clergy nor ultra-Iranian nationalits) is how the Turkic Safavids slaughtered thousands upon thousands of Persians (Sunnis), starting with the elite, the thinkers and scholars.
During the Safavid era, after the genocide of the Sunni population of Khorasan/Persia, Shah Ismail (the Safavid) arrested the Sunni Mufti of these lands: Maulana Taftazani (not to be confused with Sa’ad al-Din al-Taftazani), and urged him (Taftazani) to leave Sunnism and embrace Shi’ism. Taftazani gave a condition. He said that Shah Ismail should bring his Shia scholars, and if they can refute him (Taftazani) then he is ready to become a Shi’ite, but if he (Taftazani) refutes them, then they (including Shah Ismail) have to become Sunnis. Shah Ismail consulted with the Shia scholars but they refused and said: “There is no discussion with these people”. Thereupon Shah Ismail ordered the worst form of execution for Taftazani (and other Sunni scholars).
(‘Tarikh Rashidi’, page 367-368, by Mirza Mohammad Haidar)
This is why Mohammad Aref Espanagheshi (Iranian historian) writes: “Every Sunni scholar in those times (Safavid era) who challenged the Shia scholars for debates and discussion was facing execution. This is why some Sunni scholar kept silent (did not speak out) and other left the country.”
(‘Inqilab Al-Islam bain Al-Khawaas wa Al-Awaam’, page 48 by Mohammad Aref Espanagheshi)