Aug 20, 2023
Israel Did Not Kill Protesters But Iranian Regime Did – Sunni Leader
Author: Iran International Newsroom
Iran's top Sunni cleric Mowlavi Abdolhamid has compared protests in Iran and Israel, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not kill any protesters.
Abdolhamid, who has emerged as an outspoken critic of the regime in the past year, made the remarks during his Friday prayer sermons, referring to large-scale protests underway in Israel since early 2023 in response to the ruling government's push for a wide-ranging judicial overhaul.
In Israel, 123 protesters were injured and about 700 people were arrested since January. In Iran, well over 500 protesters were killed by regime’s agents while the number of the injured – including those who lost eyesight – is so high that cannot be estimated. At least 22,000 were arrested, with seven executed and some on death row on trumped up charges.
Comparing how the Israeli government is handling the protests with what the Islamic Republic is doing, he said, "It's astonishing that in Israel, not even one person from the protesters and forces opposing the government has been killed. Israel kills Palestinians but not its own people. They differentiate between their own nation and others. But why isn't it the same here?"
Protesters block Ayalon Highway during a demonstration following a parliament vote on a contested bill that limits Supreme Court powers to void some government decisions, in Tel Aviv, Israel July 25, 2023.
Abdolhamid said, "Everyone in Israel has revolted and protested that Netanyahu wants to lead the government towards dictatorship. Pilots and reserve army forces have resigned because they don't want to defend a dictatorship,” implicitly calling on Iranian military officials to break their silence in the face of injustices.
The cleric rebuked the authorities who continue to threaten people to discourage them from further demonstrations as the anniversary of anti-regime protests approaches in mid-September, and the regime has intensified its intimidation campaign. "Recently, one of the Basij commanders said that if there is another protest, we will suppress it.
Suppressing the people is not the right approach. The Basij should listen to the people's grievances.People have problems; they are hungry; they are humiliated and are stuck in a deadlock.”
He condemned those officials who are not independent in their decisions and turn a blind eye to the country’s problems and corruption, emphasizing that there are no prospects for a better future for Iran.
Referring to the inability of the government to deal with Iran's critical issues, he said, "Day by day, the country's crises deepen, and the nation is facing endless problems. Now, with the arrival of a new parliament and administration, are these problems supposed to be resolved," Abdolhamid said referring to parliamentary elections in March.
"If there is no bright prospect and the new parliament will only repeat the same old tactics, while people's vote would have no impact, it will be all futile," he added.
A session of the Assembly of Experts for Leadership, the deliberative body empowered to appoint the Supreme Leader
Implicitly alluding to Iran's leader Ali Khamenei, he emphasized the necessity for all individuals, regardless of their status, to be subject to accountability without being treated as untouchable "red lines."
He labeled this issue as the regime's "greatest danger," condemning the reluctance of senior officials to heed the grievances of the people, especially those whose identities remain concealed from public discourse.
Critically assessing the Assembly of Experts for Leadership—an authoritative body responsible for appointing the Supreme Leader—Abdolhamid asked, “What is the purpose of this council if its members cannot oversee the organizations and institutions under Khamenei’s control?”
The forthright Sunni leader remarked that unless there is a shift in perspectives and policies, coupled with substantial transformation that genuinely serves the people, the ongoing challenges will endure. He stressed that merely altering parliamentary representatives, the Assembly of Experts, or the presidency will not suffice to address these persistent issues.
Following his sermons, people in several Sunni majority cities in Sistan-Baluchestan, including the provincial capital Zahedan, poured onto streets and chanted slogans to demand the release of political prisoners. Residents have been protesting every Friday since last September when sucurity forces killed around 90 civilians during a Friday protest.