Iranian authorities barred Mamousta (Sheikh) Abdul Ghaffar Mohammadi from leading the Friday prayers and prevented worshippers from entering the village mosque in the town of Alek, Kurdistan province of Iran, on October 4, 2013.
Reports state that the Imam had been threatened a week earlier, on Saturday 28 September, by officials from the Ministry of Intelligence in Kamyaran. He was allegedly ordered to stop leading prayers at the mosque and told to leave the village. The Imam, with the support and insistence of the villagers, continued leading prayers despite the threats, until Iranian authorities closed the mosque on Friday 4 October.
Mamousta Abdul Ghaffar is said to be a victim of persecution by the Iranian Regime. It is alleged he was forced to leave Masjid Imam Shafi and another small mosque, both in the city of Kamyaran, due to harassment from the Iranian authorities. He has also previously been arrested and imprisoned.
Outspoken Sunnis face discrimination in Iran, particularly Sunnis from a Kurdish or Baloch background, who face a double burden of persecution due to being both religious and ethnic minorities. Numerous Sunni scholars and teachers have been imprisoned or executed under false charges. In 2011, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) stated that "Sunni Muslim leaders regularly are intimidated and harassed by intelligence and security services and report widespread official discrimination."
The publication of Sunni materials is restricted and Sunni beliefs are banned from being taught at public schools, even in Sunni-majority areas. Those who openly preach Sunni beliefs risk persecution and arrest. In 2011 the USCIRF said "there were reports that 19 Sunni clerics had been arrested for spreading Sunni teachings in several parts of the country, including Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Baluchistan, West Azerbaijan, Ahvaz, Tavalesh, and Khorassan provinces. Their whereabouts are unknown."
Many Sunni mosques have been vandalized, shut down, or bulldozed. Sunnis have not been allowed to build a Sunni mosque in Tehran, despite there being Shi'a mosques, Christian churches, and even a Sikh temple.