September 13, 2021
On Sunday, September 12, 2021, a group of Iranians opposed to mandatory vaccination staged a protest in front of the Interior Ministry building in Tehran.
Group members carried homemade placards that read “No compulsory vaccination” and also “No to domestic vaccines, no to foreign vaccines! We have the vaccine of Imam Kazem!”
Imam Kadhim was the seventh Shia Imam, also known as a provider of cures. In Shia mythology the faithful can entreat Imam Kadhim for a cure, and he will provide it.
As protesters shouted out “Allah Akbar” in a video posted online, one curiously also declared: “We are the children of Haj Ghasem Soleimani and only accept his school and religion.”
Ghasem Soleimani was the semi-legendary commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force before he was assassinated in a US drone strike last January. His position on vaccines is not known.
In January, some citizens had gathered in front of the Ministry of Health and asked the government not to buy or produce vaccines.
The latest rally comes at a time when the Islamic Republic has begun to speed up its domestic vaccination drive – using a combination of Sinopharm, Sputnik, AstraZeneca and the domestically-made CovIran-Barekat – after months of delays and health center closures.