KERMANSHAH, Iranian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – Kurds continue to condemn the attacks on the holy site of the Yarsan faith after they were denied a permit to hold a peaceful protest on Sunday.
One day after the election of the Assembly of Experts and the Parliament in Iran, a government-affiliated group invaded and damaged Jamkhana, a place of worship in Shah Abad, also known as Islam Abad, in Rojhalat (Iranian Kurdistan).
Over a hundred attackers, who introduced themselves as the followers of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, invaded the Jamkhana with stones and batons, shattered windows, insulted the citizens, and damaged the fixtures.
Yarsan, or Ahl–e-Haq, meaning “People of Truth,” is a religious and ethnic minority mostly residing in the Kurdish-dominated province of Kermanshah in the northwest of Iran. The faith also has followers in Iraq and Turkey.
Although the Yarsan number over one million in Iran, they are considered Fergh-e-Zaleh, a “false cult,” by the Shia-dominated Islamic Republic of Iran.
Activist Hajir Shirifi told Kurdistan24, "The act of mocking Yarsans by a mob is nothing but the continuation of the government's systematic attack on ethnic and religious minorities in Iran.”
Shirifi accused the Iranian government of promoting these types of hateful attacks. “The theocratic regime in Tehran has continually been working toward full assimilation of the country's shrinking religious minorities. Those who resisted state-sanctioned violence and proselytism have been subjected to humiliation and derision," he stated.
Ardeshir Rashidi, a Yarsan from Kermanshah, told Kurdistan24, "The continuous assault and disrespect for the belief and faith of Yarsan under the Islamic State of Iran must be rejected by every decent human being everywhere."
Rashidi, the founder and president of the Kurdish American Education Society (KAES) in California, said that since the Islamic revolution in Iran, leaders and members of Yarsan have been repeatedly summoned to the religious cities of Qom and Tehran "to be reminded of the regime's intolerance for the Yarsan Faith."
He believes the attempt to "proselytize the Yarsan Community to convert has led to implementation of policies that are at the core of all kinds of rights violations of the Yarsan community by the Islamic State of Iran."
According to Rashidi, disregarding the Yarsan faith, disrespecting the ancient holy shrines, threatening the life of the leaders of the religion, imprisoning and executing the leaders and excluding the community from social, cultural, and economic rights continues to be the daily policy of the Iranian government.
In 2013, members of the Yarsan faith in Iran, and across the border in Iraqi Kurdistan, staged angry protests outside the mayor's office in the city of Hamadan where two Yarsans set themselves on fire to protest the disrespect of the religion.
Reporting by Ava Homa
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany