In yet another example of Iran's oppression of Sunni Muslims, the Iranian regime last week forced the closure of two Friday prayer services for Sunni Muslims in Mahabad, northwestern Iran.
According to the HRA News Agency, security forces in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran pressured the Imams of two Sunni mosques, resulting in the closure of Friday prayer services.
Mullah Mohammad Mabzooleh and Mullah Fatah Sheikhi, the Imams of Kouye Hazhar mosque and Salahaddin Poshte Tapp mosque, were summoned to the Intelligence agency and intimidated, forcing them to stop holding Friday prayer services.
Three more Sunni Imams, Mullah Najm Uddin, Mullah Ali Khaledi and Mullah Seyyed Hassan Asadi, the Imams of Imam Shafi’i mosque, Shahrak mosque and Imam Majdi mosque, were also summoned to the Intelligence agency. Officials ordered them not to hold Friday prayer services in their mosques anymore. It is unclear at this stage whether the three mosques will continue to hold Friday prayers.
A local activist spoke to the HRA News Agency, saying, "The Intelligence [agency] sends plain-clothed officers to Sunni mosques, with the obvious intent to spread fear and panic amongst the Sunni people, to disperse them from the mosques."
He said, "It is to force [the Sunni Muslims] to have government-approved Friday prayers, where all sermons are written by the council."
The restrictions on Sunni worship in Iran is widespread. Human Rights Watch issued a statement in November urging Iran to lift restrictions on Sunni worship, following incidents where Sunnis in Tehran were prevented by security forces from performing Eid prayers for Eid al-Adha.
The British newspaper 'The Guardian' also 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.
Numerous Sunni mosques in Iran have been shut down by the authorities. Earlier this year in October, a Sunni 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.