Three Sunni preachers arrested in Ahwaz

HRANA News Agency – Iran’s crackdown on the Sunnis of Ahwaz continues as three Sunni preachers from Iran’s Ahwazi Arab minority were arrested on Sunday in Mahshahr city, Kuzestan province of Iran.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), 23-year old Hossein Saboori and his 21-year old brother Hassan Saboori were arrested and taken to an unknown location by security forces on Sunday 20 July 2014 in the town of Taleghani (Al-Kora) in Mahshahr city, Khuzestan.

Security forces then proceeded to raid the Saboori family home, causing ‘fear and panic’ to the women and children in the house.

Ahwazi human rights activist Karim Dahimi told the HRA News Agency, “[Hossein Saboori] was a Sunni preacher and he would collect the youth of the Al-Kora area [Taleghani] and teach them Arabic language and the Qur’an.”

The Saboori brothers were previously detained in May 2014 by the Ministry of Intelligence on charges of ‘spreading propaganda against the state’ in relation to their Sunni preaching activities.

Another Sunni preacher, 25-year old Sami Zebady Alboghobesh, was also arrested on Sunday in the market in Taleghani.

A Sunni religious activist, he had previously converted from Shi’ism to Sunni Islam, and actively participated in meetings held to teach the Arabic language.

The latest arrests comes just days after seven Sunni converts were arrested in Ahwaz city and taken to an unknown location after holding congregational Sunni Taraweeh prayers.

Although the majority of the population in Khuzestan is Shia, a large number have converted to Sunni Islam in recent years, causing alarm in the Shia-led Iranian government about the growth of Sunni Islam in the area.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of Sunni converts arrested in the Khuzestan province. Earlier this year, four Sunni converts were sentenced to imprisonment and compulsory participation in Shia rituals by Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court in Ahwaz, after being accused of “engaging in propaganda against the state’s official religion [Shi’ism].”

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