July 29, 2021
A senior Sunni cleric in Iran has criticized the government’s management of the country and implicitly defending protests in oil-rich Khuzestan province, has said the reason is not just lack of water.
Molavi Abolhamid, the religious leader of Sunnis in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province in southeast Iran is considered the most influential Sunni cleric who has often criticized the Islamic Republic for treating the minority Muslim community in the country as second-class citizens.
In remarks on Wednesday however, he made a positive gesture toward the incoming president Ebrahim Raisi, saying that his government would Iran’s “last hope” adding that he hoped there would be unity among different factions. Abdolhamid supported Raisi in the June presidential vote.
However, putting the onus on Raisi the Sunni leader said, “Nevertheless, If Mr. Raisi would not be able to make decisions based on reality,” we would lose hope for the future.
Voicing support for protests in Khuzestan that were triggered on July 15 by a long-running water shortage, Abdolhamid blamed “mismanagement” by the government. He said “poverty and deprivation” has reached intolerable levels and “protest is not just about water, it includes all these cases”.
He added that Khuzestan’s Arab-Iranians compare themselves to neighboring countries such as Kuwait and others in the region and see that people in there live in good conditions. He said the same is true about Iran’s Kurds, who compared to their ethnic brethren in Iraq and Turkey face disadvantages.