The Islamist camp in Iranian Kurdistan consists of three main Kurdish-oriented movements in addition to militants and a Sufi order. These organizations mainly have a ‘da’wah’ [Islamic outreach or education] role, tending to focus on cultural work, although some of them have armed branches too. And while generally better treated by the authorities than other political movements led by ethnic minorities—partly to offset extremism—Kurdish Islamists have to walk a careful line in the Islamic Republic.
In the 1960s, many of those who would later form the Kurdish Islamist leadership were part of the secular Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I).
For instance, the founder of Maktab Quran [School of Quran]—the first Iranian Kurdish Islamist organization—was initially an activist with the outlawed KDPI-I. Ahmad Muftizadeh (1933-93) turned to preaching after being imprisoned in 1964, criticizing the secularism of the monarchy led by Mohammad Reza Shah and calling for the application of Islamic law.
But whether under the Shah or the Islamic Republic, Maktab Quran has been viewed as a dangerous political organization by the Iranian authorities. Four years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution which...
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