Dec. 29, 2022

How the Iranian state grapples with Sunni critic it empowered


The story: Hardline media in Iran are ramping up their targeting of prominent Sunni cleric Abdolhamid Esmailzehi, popularly known as Molavi Abdolhamid, over his criticism of the alleged mistreatment of prisoners and protesters.

The sniping follows claims that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded that Esmailzehi be discredited rather than detained for speaking out.

The coverage: The influential Sunni cleric took to Twitter on Dec. 27 to criticize Iran's ruling establishment for its alleged use of "murder, execution, rape and severe torture" to deal with protesters and dissidents.

  • Esmailzehi said it was not befitting of a country "headed by ulama [Islamic scholars]" that calls itself an "Islamic Republic" to resort to such measures.

The criticism came days after jailed activist Narges Mohammadi in a letter from prison detailed physical and sexual abuse that female detainees arrested during the...

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