June 9, 2021
Molavi Abdol-Hamid Does Not Support Any Candidate…Yet
A spokesman for Molavi Abdol-Hamid Esma’il-Zahi, considered the most senior Sunni religious leader in Iran, said that the Friday Imam of the Zahedan Mosque has not determined if he will support any candidate at this stage. The question came after another senior Sunni leader endorsed Ebrahim Raisi this week, and amid rumours that Raisi’s campaign team had met with Abdol-Hamid in Zahedan at the end of May. Abdol-Hamid endorsed Hassan Rouhani in 2013, which led to a large percentage of Iran’s Sunni minority, especially in Baluchistan, to vote for him.
May 14, 2021
Sunni Leader Condemns Discrimination
Molavi Abdol-Hamid Esma’el-Zahi, the Friday Prayer leader in Zahedan and most senior Sunni Muslim figure in Iran, criticised the method for disqualifying presidential candidates in his Friday sermon, saying it will lead to a low participation rate. Abdol-Hamid added that “a ruler should not support just one certain group, but represent all religions, sects, ethnicities and minorities”, adding that “Iran belongs to all Iranians”. Abdol-Hamid’s congregation are mostly ethnic Baluch Sunni Muslims who live in one of the most deprived parts of the country.
May 7, 2021
Kurdish Sunni Leader Criticises Exploitation of Minorities by Candidates
Former Reformist Parliamentarian, academic and Sunni Kurdish activist Jalal Jalalizadeh criticised the use of minorities in endorsing candidates, citing the apparent petition by 500 prominent Sunni Iranians in support of Ebrahim Raisi. Jalalizadeh said that candidates seeking Sunni votes should be genuinely committed to ending discrimination against the minority sect and active in appointing minorities to senior roles. In his ten-point plan, Jalalizadeh said representation of Sunnis in key roles should be proportionate to their population (about 10%) and that Sunni governors should be appointed in Sunni majority provinces, such as Kurdistan and Baluchistan.
May 6, 2021
Patterns of Voting among Baluch Minority
IRNA published a series of analyses from political scientists about patterns of voting in Sistan-Baluchistan province, where a large minority population of Sunni Baluch live. One local Baluch political scientist commented that ethnic Baluch tend to vote for the candidate endorsed by their tribal leader, religious leader or educated ethnic activists: “in all elections, whether of local councils or the Majles [or Presidency], a list of candidates approved by the elites, elders and [Sunni] clerics is issued by one of our religious centres, and most people vote for the same list”. Historically, minorities like the Baluch tend to vote for more moderate candidates.