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Iranian Sufi Dervish Killed Amid Crackdown


A Gonabadi dervish house of worship in Isfahan, which was destroyed by the Iranian authorities last February.

A Gonabadi dervish house of worship in Isfahan, which was destroyed by the Iranian authorities last February.

A dervish has died in southwestern Iran amid an ongoing government crackdown against the Sufi sect, Radio Farda reports.

Three dervishes from the Gonabadi Nematollahi order -- Ebrahim Fazil, Ali Karimi, and Mohammad Ali Saadi -- were shot by security forces on September 5 in Kavar, Fars Province.

It is not known which of the men was killed. The other two are in serious condition in the hospital.

The Sufis reportedly came under attack from "plainclothes agents" and members of the Basij militia. Opposition websites have reported that those who assaulted the dervishes were armed and used tear gas.

Davood Montazeri, a lawyer for and member of the Gonabadi dervishes, said the Kavar incident took place after an Islamic cleric in the province, whom he identified as "Shahbazi," called last week on citizens to demonstrate against dervishes.

Radio Farda reports that late last week Sufi shops were also reportedly set on fire and the homes of Sufis attacked by a group of hard-liners chanting "death to American dervishes."

Sources close to the dervishes told Radio Farda that scores of dervishes were detained and dozens sustained injuries.

In recent years, Iranian authorities have demolished several houses of worship of dervishes in Qom, Isfahan, and other cities.

Dervishes believe their growing popularity is one of the main reasons for the increased pressure.

The Nematollahi order is Iran's largest Sufi order, with reportedly more than 2 million members across the country, including in major cities such as Tehran and Isfahan.

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