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Salafi attacks in Kordestan Province, Iran

By MECRA Iran correspondent

Dozens of Salafis, (ultra-conservative Sunni Muslims), many with faces covered and riding motorbikes attacked people in a series of neighborhoods in majority Kurdish Sanandaj, western Iran, on Saturday, May 22.

The attackers injured a number of people, and were wielding swords and machetes in their hands while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.’ The incidents took place in the Showra Square, Khezr Zandeh Street in Haji Abad neighborhood, Kurdistan Square and Zagros areas of the city. A number of residents of these neighborhoods were seriously injured and transported to nearby hospitals.

"Instead of arresting Salafis, they arrested youth that attacked Salafis while they were attacking people."

After the injured were transported to Kowsar hospital, the Salafis gathered in front of the hospital with swords and sticks, chanting "Allah Akbar and La allah ila’Allah" and demanding that the wounded be handed over to them in order to "execute the divine decree on them".

Finally, with both city residents and Salafis gathered in front of the hospital, all roads leading to Kowsar Hospital were closed by the security forces until late at night.

Ata Baghbani, arrested by ministry of intelligence.

According to local people interviewed by MECRA: "It is the third time over the last few weeks that such a thing has happened in Kordestan province. It happened in Saqqez and Marivan in the last two weeks. The security and intelligence forces have not responded."

"Instead of arresting Salafis, they arrested youth that attacked Salafis while they were attacking people."

"A young man called Ata Baghbani tried to protect people from the Salafis while the group attacked Haji Abad, Later on, the Military of Intelligence forces arrested him and tortured him."

Salalafi organizations seek to justify this behavior by proclaiming that it is their ‘mission’ to protect Islam from infidels that drink alcohol and act against Islamic values. Many local people in Sanandaj allege links between the Salafis and the Iranian state, noting the slow arrival of state forces during the recent Salafi attacks. Local sources also noted the recent formation of a new Salafi group in Sanandaj, organized by a former bodyguard of Mullah Krekar, founder of the Ansar al-Islam group in Iraqi Kurdistan. Many local people in Sanandaj believe that the Iranian regime supports the Salafi groups in an attempt to counter leftist and Kurdish nationalist forces in Kordestan Province.

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