Iranian authorities detained two outspoken Kurdish clerics on Monday, raising the number of Sunni clerics in detention to at least ten, an issue that could incite anger among the Sunni population across the country.

Mala Loghman Amini and Mala Ebrahim Nanakali were detained by Iranian security forces in the Kurdish city of Sanandaj on Monday, another cleric who knows both of them told Rudaw, with the arrests following condemnations by Sunni clerics against the regime’s brutality in dealing with the ongoing antigovernment demonstrations.

The Sunni clerical establishment, mostly present in the Kurdish, Balochi, and Turkmen areas of Iran, has overwhelmingly supported the protest movement sparked by Zhina (Mahsa) Amini’s death in mid-September.

According to the cleric, the two scholars were previously threatened with punishment and arrest for their support of the countrywide demonstrations as well as their strong condemnation of the regime’s security forces for their treatment and execution of protestors.

Iranian authorities have until recently refrained from cracking down on Sunni clerics despite their seemingly audacious moves in supporting the protests.

Last week, Iranian security forces detained four Sunni clerics in the city of Piranshahr, northwestern Iran. The number of religious scholars currently detained in the Kurdish cities of Javanrud, Mahabad, Bukan, and Piranshahr amounts to at least ten.

“There is enormous pressure on clerics and they are increasing it day by day,” a cleric from Kurdistan province told Rudaw English on the condition of anonymity on Wednesday. “They are constantly detaining and summoning the clerics but they are cautious about detaining Friday prayer clerics to avoid further antagonizing people.”

The Sunni clerics in the Baluchestan region, in southeastern in Iran, are also a thorn in the regime’s side. The Makki Mosque, led by Abdolahamid Ismaeelzahi, has become the focal point of protests following most Friday prayers.

A number of Balochi Sunni clerics have been harassed and threatened with arrest if they continue to support the protesters, according to the Baloch Activists Campaign which monitors human rights violations in the Balochi areas.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) killed at least 100 protestors in Zahedan on September 30, including children, a day which has been labeled as “Black Friday” by activists.

The pressure on the Sunni religious establishment is not limited to the Kurdish and Baluchi areas. Prominent figures in the Turkman areas in north of the country have also come under increasing pressure from the authorities. Mohammad Hossein Gergij has been dismissed from his position as Friday prayer Imam and is currently under house arrest.

Iran has so far executed four individuals in connection with antigovernment protests, largely following questionable trials without any due process and has also handed death sentences to 17 other people, according to the UN.

Source » rudaw