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Iran's Sunnis should also be allowed to practice their faith freely: Human Rights Watch
Sunday November 10, 2013 11:05 PM, News Network

Citing decades-long prosecution, a leading international human rights group has urged Iranian government to meet its promises of guaranteeing freedom of worship to its religious minorities, especially the Sunni Muslims.

"Iran's Sunnis should be allowed to practice their faith freely, as do their Shiite counterparts," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement published on HRW site on Saturday, November 9.

"Ending religious discrimination should be among President Rouhani's top priorities," she added.

Sunni Muslims have been targeted in Shiite majority Iran for decades.

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.

More than a decade ago, the Sunni Mosques Affairs Council of Tehran, which operates under the supervision of the Gathering to Call and Reform Iran, helped establish a system of namazkhanehs, or provisional prayer sites, to accommodate Sunni worshippers in Tehran province during Friday prayers and `Eid holidays.

Earlier this year, Sadeghiyeh Mosque, one of the largest and most important Sunni prayer sites in Tehran, was the scene for Sunni prosecution.

During `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha, Sunni Muslims were prevented from praying in the mosque by security forces, without mentioning reasons.

Moreover, Tehran police used to summon Sadeghiyeh mosque board members to warn them of celebrating in public, the Persian-language site Islah Web reported.

After repeated threats, Sadeghiyeh Mosque board members raised complaints to government officials who granted them 'vocal' guarantees at that time to allow Sunni to practice their faith freely.

However, security forces in Last August dismissed the vocal assurances and asked for a 'written' proof that Sunni prayers had official approval.

Sunni Muslims complains were denied by some government officials who claimed that Iran's mosques are open to all Muslims regardless of sect, calling Sunnis to show unity by participating in Shiites prayers.

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