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Iranian Dervishes Detained Following Isfahan Clashes
[February 20, 2009]

Iranian Dervishes Detained Following Isfahan Clashes

Feb 20, 2009 (Radio Free Europe Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- PRAGUE -- Sufi dervishes say several of their colleagues have been injured and about 30 of them arrested after a confrontation with police in the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

Iranian security forces attacked the dervishes, who had gathered next to the tomb of dervish poet Naser Ali where their house of worship was located.

The incident came one day after local authorities demolished the house of worship of the Gonabadi dervishes in Isfahan.

"We thought the job of the police forces is to bring security for people, now we know it's not the case," one dervish who witnessed the clashes told RFE/RL.

The Gonabadi dervishes have announced they will gather on February 21 in front of the Iranian parliament in Tehran to protest the demolition of their prayer house and what they describe as a violation of the rights of dervishes.

State pressure on dervishes and other religious minorities, including Baha'is, has increased in Iran in recent months.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari Copyright (c) 2009. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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