They don’t want to give up – Kasra Nouri and Saleh Moradi belong to the Nematollahi Gonabadi Dervish Order in Iran. They are also members of a largely extended family of Sarvestan, an area near Shiraz.

The members of this order follow a life-philosophy which is hated by the regime in Iran. Instead of instigating hatred and agitating against various enemies of the state, as the representatives of the regime are doing, the dervishes practice tolerance and charity. In the last decades, the Dervishes of the order built schools, hospitals and nursing homes with generous donations and active efforts. For this, they have been receiving a lot of encouragement from the society and especially young people are joining the dervishes because they see the ideology and practice of the governing clerics as disgusting and reprehensible.

Kasra Nouri and Saleh Moradi lie weakened in their cells in Adel Abad prison in Shiraz. They don’t want to give up. They are kept alive under force by infusions. Since mid-January 2013, the two dervishes have been demanding, the relocation of their Dervish brothers from the solitary confinement to the general ward in Tehran’s Evin prison.

At the same time, intelligence officials tried to force the strikers with threats and by exerting power to give up. A week ago, they were dragged before a camera and forced to eat bread in order to publicize the hunger strike as a hoax. Close family members of the two reported that they will continue their hunger strike and that the two men don’t want to follow the appeals of friends, inmates or relatives to break the hunger strike as long as their demands are not met.

Meetings of Kasra Nouri’s mother and Saleh Moradi’s wife with Shiraz district’s public prosecutor (Ali Alghasi More) proved fruitless, because he refused to use any influence and declined all responsibility in this case.[1]

In the meantime, Ali Mozafari, the director of the Adel Abad prison, resigned with the remark that he didn’t want to support the injustices against this two hunger striking inmates any longer. Mozafari offered the two jailed Gonabadi Dervishes his apologies and when bidding farewell embraced them.[2]

End March, the Human Rights Commissioner of Germany, Markus Loening issued a statement in a press release on the situation of the dervishes in Iran and on hunger strike of Kasra Nouri and Saleh Moradi.[3] 

But it seems to leave those responsible cold.

What is behind the persecution of the dervishes in Iran?

The regime began to fear the influence of the dervishes on the society and even before the end of the Khatami’s presidency, they started a campaign of denial and accusations campaign against this group. This campaign was intensified during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. During a long time, it was not clear who exactly of the complex structured state apparatus of the so-called Islamic Republic was behind the attacks. But when millions protested against the widely assumed rigged re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, the nomenclature of the revolutionary Velayat-e-faghi system defined some enemies. These enemies are supposedly controlled by foreign countries, who want to overthrow the bearded "righteous" of power in Iran. Among them are political opponents, many journalists, bloggers, human rights activists and other thinkers.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself travelled in the fall of 2009 to the holy city of Qom, and named many religious enemies of the state’s ideology: Baha’is, Sunnis, converted Christians and false mystics. The state ideology is based on religious conceptions in Iran, some analysts speak of a corrupt Shiite Islam. In addition, the supreme leader considers himself as God’s representative on earth. Subsequently, an exhibition about Satanism organized by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance showed in large pictures these enemies who are under the influence of Satan. These presentations in connection with more than 100 books inciting against the Sufis, provoked campaigns that led to destruction of prayer and meeting houses. Various fundamentalist mullahs and followers of Khamenei as Panahian, Biranvand, Shabazi and others led these campaigns. We reported about that many times already.

Ali Reza Panahian

Abdul Rahim Biranvand

Mojtaba Khamenei

Some pronounce it openly, others secretly: the architect behind these attacks would be Modjtaba Khamenei, who sees himself as his father’s successor.

But always, the dervishes continue to resist. They gather, sing, chant, hold hands, write letters and appeal for support. They are gaining more and more sympathy from the oppressed population because they keep resisting. Thereby they are even risking their lives.



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