Referring to the recent widespread protests in Iran, after the death of Mahsa Amini in the police custody in Tehran, the most influential Iranian Sunni leader criticized the officials for “running the country by military force” and insisted on hearing the voice of the people and well-wishers.
Talking to the Sunni citizens of Zahedan, capital of Sistan- Balochistan before the Friday prayers on September 23, 2022, the president of Darululoom Zahedan addressed the Iranian officials on recent tensions and nation-wide protests, saying: “Do not leave people’s demands unanswered. Fulfil these demands. Otherwise, people will protest in the streets with any small incident. As we live in an Islamic and republic country, the dignity of the nation should be maintained and people should enjoy full freedom. Republic means people decide their own destiny, free from force and coercion.”
Shaikh Abdol-Hamid continued his Friday speech of Zahedan in the presence of tens of thousands of worshippers and said: “The holy Prophet, peace be upon him, served the people and listened to them carefully. A kind ruler always listens to the people. You should also listen to all. We have professional experts and scholars in the country who have the best ideas; listen to their opinions and use these potentials. As benefactors, we say: there must be an open podium to listen to the critics.”
The use of force and weapons cannot protect the state
“Membership of the parliament, Assembly of Leadership Experts, and presidency should not be exclusive. No particular side or wing should rule in the country. All Iranians must have equal opportunities. This is in the interest of both the nation and the country, and it maintains the dignity of our people,” the Iranian Baloch political leader expressed his opinions.
Believing that the state cannot be controlled and maintained just by force and militarization, and both “sympathizers and opponents should be heard”, Shaikh Abdol-Hamid said: “The use of force and weapons cannot maintain the state. Together, the country develops with a set of different thoughts. Do not run the country by militarizing it. Leave the country in the hands of the thoughtful and wise people. The security forces have another duty; they should not interfere in every matter. Everyone should fulfil his own duty. This will maintain the security of the country and preserve the dignity of the people of Iran. If we do not do this, dissatisfaction among the people will increase day by day all over the country.”
“We are sorry that after 44 years, we still have not seen a group representing the state asking the people for their viewpoints. The Islamic Republic of Iran must rely on the people more than all other republic systems in the world. As a well-wisher, I say that the society is suffering from inflammation. People want freedom and need to be heard,” said the Friday Sunni leader of Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Balochistan.
Addressing the officials, the eminent Iranian Sunni leader said: “People have supported you in different scenes, and now it is your turn to listen to them. You cannot keep the state and save your rule with weapons and by using of force. There should be fundamental changes in the policies of the country and people’s opinions should be respected.”
“Do not consult only one particular political wing. Organize free debate rostrum for all classes of the society to speak on different issues. Listen to men and women. Wisdom is not only with men. Many times women have better ideas. Hearing the voice of all people is in the interest of the government. Unfortunately, in making decisions, officials consult only with a specific party”, the Imam of the Grand Makki Mosque of Zahedan said.
Accused officials should not be supported
Condoling with the survivors of Mahsa Amini, the young woman who lost her life in the custody of police in Tehran, the Iranian Sunni leader said: “Ms. Mahsa Amini’s death was a great loss. In this incident, her family was oppressed. All the culprits involved in the incident should have been tried immediately. If the culprits were tried and punished, the people would have been consoled. In many cases, the police officers are blamed; such officers should not be supported. Those who eat the bread of the system and the bread of the nation should not commit crimes; if any of them commits a crime, s/he should be punished publicly.”
Referring to the publication of unconfirmed reports about the rape of a Baloch woman by the investigating police during the interrogation in Chabahar, Shaikh Abdol-Hamid said: “In the case of Chabahar, people criticized us and criticized the scholars of the region: why are you silent?” We have been silent for some reasons. We want to clarify the issue; so it is impossible to make a stance immediately. So, we do research to make sure what has really happened to avoid mistaken decision. We expect the authorities to take serious measures and follow up this issue. The officials have told us that they are following up the matter. They should clarify this issue.”
“I recommend: in women’s judicial matters, there must be a female assistant next to the interrogators or judges”, he underlined.
Regarding the hijab issue, the most outstanding Iranian Sunni scholar said: “We do not know how the officials think about this matter. By the way, we do not allow any male policeman to touch women – even in the case their heads are not covered with scarf – and arrest, and throw them in a car. You can never fix one sin by committing another sin.”
Don’t marginalize Sunnis
Criticizing the Iranian authorities regarding the exclusion of Sunnis from key positions, president of Darululoom Zahedan said: “We have a complaint from the Ministry of Education in this regard. Although I have written a letter to the president, and he referred the issue to the Ministry of Education, but it has not been addressed yet.”
“For decades, we have been pursuing the rights of Sunnis in Balochistan, but we have not achieved any good result. So far, we have not had a Baloch director for the provincial bureau of education in Sistan-Balochistan since the revolution until now. We have capable people to serve the society; it is not fair that they are marginalized and ostracized. It is not clear where our complaints go,” Shaikh Abdol-Hamid concluded his points in this part of the Friday speech of Zahedan.