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Iranian Security Services Arrest Five Dervishes

Iranian security services recently arrested five dervishes -- members of the Nematollahi Gonabadi Sufi Muslim community -- without any official charges in southern Hormozgan Province.

Sources close to the Gonabadi community told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that security officers also confiscated the dervishes’ computers, discs, and books.

Rights groups say state intolerance for dervishes has increased in Iran in recent years. In 2006, some 1,200 Sufis were arrested in a major crackdown after police sought to close a Sufi house of worship in the holy city of Qom.

A number of Gonabadi dervishes have been arrested this year in other Iranian cities, including Esfahan and Karaj.

The UN General Assembly recently adopted a resolution expressing deep concern at serious human rights violations in Iran, citing among other violations state pressure on the dervish community and other minority groups.

Sufism is not illegal in Iran, but many clerics regard the practice as an affront to Islam.

Earlier this year, conservative clerics in Qom accused dervishes of opposing Islamic ideas, a claim the Sufi community vehemently rejects. Sufis insist that they strictly observe Islamic beliefs and principles.

(by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah)

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