Sunni cleric voices support for women defying hijab rules

Iranian women make their way along a sidewalk in downtown Tehran, Apr. 26, 2016. [AP Photo]

A prominent Sunni cleric in Iran voiced support Friday for women who defy rules mandating they wear a hijab in public, saying such women are expressing their discontent and “demonstrating civil disobedience.”

In a sermon, Molavi Abdul Hamid, the Friday prayer imam of Sunnis in the city of Zahedan, said hijabs cannot be imposed on Iranian women through imprisonment, detention or torture.

He also said Iran's economic problems stem from deep-rooted political issues and asserted that the Islamic republic's 44-year-old policies have failed to provide solutions. As long as political issues remain unresolved, he said, the country's economy will not find stability.

Hamid condemned the recent Quran-burning incident in Sweden, saying that disrespect for the sanctities of all religions and denominations is unacceptable. He said the sacred books of Muslims, Christians and Jews should never be set on fire.

'Protest Friday'

Protesters in Zahedan observed the 40-second Protest Friday with a silent rally, respecting the request of Molavi Abdul Hamid and honoring the Islamic holy days of Ashura.

Protest Fridays against the Iranian government gained momentum in Zahedan after the Sept. 29, 2022, incident in which security forces killed nearly 100 protesters. The day became known as the "Bloody Friday of Zahedan."

The Baloch Activists Campaign reported a heavy security presence in the streets of Zahedan during the recent Protest Friday, mirroring the situation in previous weeks.

NetBlocks, the watchdog organization that monitors internet access restrictions globally, reported that the internet in Zahedan faced extensive disruptions during Friday prayers and protests, similar to previous Fridays.