Monday, May 21, 2007

Iranian Anti-Sufism

In the past, I've noted both increased interest in Sufism in Iran and efforts by the Shi'ite government to crack down on it. Today saw another example of the latter with the arrest of one of Iran's most prominent Sufi leaders:
"High-profile cases like Tabandeh's suggest that pressure on minority religious groups, like Sufis and dervishes, has increased in Iran.

"Last year, a Sufi house of worship was destroyed in Qom, and hundreds of Sufis were detained.

"The U.S. Commission On International Religious Freedom said in a May 2 statement that an already 'poor' government record on religious freedom had deteriorated in the past year -- particularly for religious groups like Sufi Muslims and Evangelical Christians.

"Critics are likely to claim that Iranian authorities' latest move against the leader of the Nematollahi order is another sign of intolerance toward those who do not practice Islam as it is promoted by the political and religious establishment.

"Several conservative clerics have in recent months described Sufism as a danger to Islam.

"Tabandeh's Nematollahi Gonabadi order is reportedly among the largest Sufi groups in Iran."

His followers are considering various ways to respond. You haven't heard the last of this story.



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