Nov. 7, 2022

IRGC outlets outraged as Iranian Sunni leader calls for ‘referendum’


The story: Iran's top Sunni cleric is under fire by hardline media in the country after criticizing the crackdown on protests and calling for a “referendum” on state policies. Pro-establishment outlets are accusing Molavi Abdolhamid of having ties with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni regional rival of Iran, and partially blaming him for the ongoing unrest.

The coverage: Abdolhamid Esmailzehi, popularly known as Molavi Abdolhamid, expressed strong criticism of state policies in his Nov. 4 Friday prayer sermon in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan Province. Of note, the region is mostly home to Iran’s Baluch ethnic minority.

  • Abdolhamid said the authorities "cannot silence the people via beatings and jailings," emphasizing, "People have been protesting for nearly 50 days…They have bled and suffered deaths; you cannot push them out."

  • The top Sunni cleric also demanded a plebiscite monitored by international observers, stating, “Hold a referendum and see what changes the people want, and...

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