DUBAI: A prominent Sunni cleric who directed unprecedented criticism at Iran’s supreme leader over a bloody crackdown in his hometown appeared unbowed this week by warnings from security forces, pressing his demands for more rights for his minority and voicing support for other groups in country-wide unrest.
Molavi Abdolhamid has long been a dissenting voice seeking better living standards and more political representation for the Sunni minority in the mostly Shia Islamic Republic, including the Baloch ethnic group to which he belongs and the Kurdish population. Iran’s government denies discrimination against Sunnis.
His criticism has escalated since the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in police custody on Sept. 16 ignited nationwide protests.
Some of the worst unrest has been in areas home to minority ethnic groups with long-standing grievances against the state, including Abdolhamid’s province of Sistan-Baluchistan and Kurdish regions. Officials have blamed separatist militants for the unrest.