Sunni mosque shut down by security forces

HRANA News Agency – Masjid Rizvanshahr, a Sunni mosque in Talesh, Gilan province, was closed down by Iranian security forces on 19 May 2014.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), the mosque was forced to close because the authorities did not issue a permit for a Sunni mosque to be built in the area.

Local residents had attempted to run the mosque, which had been open for six years, using a residential permit, before it was closed down by security forces earlier this week.

There are wide-spread restrictions on Sunni worship in the Shia-ruled Iran. Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement in November 2013 urging Iran to lift restrictions on Sunni worship, following incidents where Sunni Muslims in Tehran were prevented by security forces from performing Eid prayers.

The HRW statement declared that “since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the government has denied Sunnis in Tehran province permission to construct and operate Sunni mosques, according to Sunni activists.”

Numerous Sunni mosques in Iran have also been shut down by the authorities. In a recent example in October 2013, a Sunni mosque was closed and the Imam was threatened in the town of Alek, Kurdistan province of Iran. Security forces also forced the closure of two Friday prayer services for Sunni Muslims in Mahabad, northwestern Iran, in November 2013.

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