Members of the Yarsani religious community in Iran’s Islamabad Gha===rb have taken part in widespread protests to condemn sectarian insults made against them by some election campaigners, a Yarsani rights activist told Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN).
The source said the Yarsani community came under abusive attacks by election campaigners of Iranian parliamentary candidate Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, and that this happened after they organized a party-like rally in the city of Islamabade Gharb (Shabad) to celebrate Falahatpisheh’s second consecutive win in the parliamentary election.
While in their jubilant mood, Falahatpishe’s supporters suddenly begun to yell and shout abusive sectarian insults at members of the Yarsani community, who backed Jalalian in the election, the rival candidate to Falahpisheh.
Falahpisheh’s supporters carried photos of Yarsani religious leaders and written offensive words on the photos.
Falahpisheh’s supporters also wore big fake moustaches to make a mockery of Yarsani people in an abusive manner, as keeping a larger than average moustache is one of the symbols of the identity for the men of the Yarsani community.
The abuses provoked widespread protests by the Yarsani community since 26 February.
The KHRN source said that the protests continue taking place, although on a smaller scale than those held in the past few days after the incident.
Falahpisheh’s supporters reportedly broke the windows of the home of a Yarsani civilian in the city of Ghasre Shirin.
Around 2,000 Yarsani protesters gathered in the town centre of Gahvareh outside the Gahvareh’s Sherifdom building to condemn being violently targeted on sectarian grounds.
Jalaladdin Heydari, son of the Yarsani religious leader Nasradin Heydari, was among the protesters.
The protest organizers read out statements urging action by the authorities against the offenders, but none of them have yet been questioned or arrested by the authorities despite their open spreading of hatred based on religious discrimination.
Yarsani (also known as Yarsan or Ahle Haqq) is a religion founded by Soltan Eshagh in Kurdistan’s Hawraman region in the 13th century.
Adherents of the Yarsani religion mostly live in the cities of Kermanshah, Lorestan, Hamedan and a few villages near Miandoab.
Jamkhane is the Yarsani place of worship, where they play Tambourine and read Kalamkhani, verses of their holy book.
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution neither recognizes Yarsani as a religion nor recognizes the civil right of Yarsani adherents to citizenship, which is why they have no right to higher education or employment in government offices, and they have no right to hold key posts or become a member of the parliament in Iran.
In June 2013, prison officers shaved a Yarsani prisoner’s moustache to psychologically torture him in front of all the other prisoners.
Members of the Yarsani community at the time held widespread protests in the Hamedan and Kermanshah area condemning the prison authorities.
A Yarsan soldier committed suicide at his army barracks in the city of Ghorveh on 7 April 2014, which was due to being discriminated against and it was also in protest against the deliberate discrimination against his Yarsani community.
On 19 September 2015, high-ranking officers of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry called the Yarsani religious leaders of the Yarsani Jamkhane in Kermanshah for a meeting and told them to stop their youth from joining outlawed armed Kurdish political parties.
The officers had admitted at the meeting that they recognised the fact that the Yarsani religious community faced discrimination.