Sunni Muslims in parts of Tehran were prevented from holding their own congregational prayers to celebrate the Eid festival on Wednesday. Iranian security forces barred worshippers from entering the houses that they had rented for the purpose of prayer.
Dozens of Iranian security forces surrounded a house in Sadeghiyeh Square, Tehran, and barred Sunnis from entering. Quoted by The Sunni Human Rights Committee in Iran (SHRCI), Dr Jalal Jalalizadeh, an Iranian Kurdish politician, described how police and security forces stood "outside the entrance and obstructed us from holding the Eid prayers."
The Iranian security forces reportedly said that they 'did not have the right' to hold the prayers.
There are reports that Sunnis were also prevented from holding Eid prayers In Sa'adat Abad, north Tehran.
There are currently no Sunni mosques in Tehran, despite the city having an estimated population of one million Sunnis. The Iranian authorities have refused to give permission for Sunnis to build a mosque in Tehran, even though they have allowed the construction of a number of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues.
Previously, The Guardian reported that Sunnis in Tehran were banned from holding Eid prayers to mark the end of Ramadan. Hundreds of security forces were deployed to block access to houses rented by Sunnis for prayers.
The restrictions on Sunnis in Tehran are part of a wider culture of discrimination by the Iranian regime against Sunnis and ethnic minorities in Iran. 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 US Commission on International Religious Freedom (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."
Numerous Sunni mosques in Iran have been shut down by the authorities. Earlier this month on October 4th, a mosque was closed down in the town of Alek, Kurdistan province of Iran. The Imam, Mamousta Abdul Ghaffar Mohammadi had been threatened by Iranian officials, and the congregation was prevented from entering the mosque.
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 USCIRF stated that "Sunni Muslim leaders regularly are intimidated and harassed by intelligence and security services and report widespread official discrimination."
There are currently at least 30 Sunni political prisoners facing execution in Iran. The men were all active in propogating Sunni Islam within their communities, and it is alleged they were arrested due to their open criticism of the Iranian regime. The men were all tortured, with many forced to 'confess' to false charges. Two of the men have been missing since Sunday 29th September 2013 when they were removed from Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj and taken to an unknown location. Fears for their welfare are growing.