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Spotlight On Iran

Iranians Pray For Rain Amid Water Crisis

Residents of Qaen pray together for rain in the deserts around the Iranian city.

Iranians in some of the regions hardest hit by years of drought have taken to public prayer sessions in desperate bids to end the dry spell and ease the strain on Iran's dwindling water supplies.

Religious services have been routinely held outdoors in Iran since the cleric-led revolution in 1979, but the recent rain prayers were unique in their focus, and in at least one case worshipers gathered in a remote, arid location.

The events were staged in Birjand and Qaen, both in the parched eastern province of South Khorasan on the Afghan border, and in Zabol, in the southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan, according to Iranian news agencies.

Photos posted online show many hundreds of men and women, boys and girls, supplicating for rain.

The rain prayers in Birjand on January 15 were led by Hojatoleslam Seyed Bagher Asadi, who teaches at Birjand's religious seminary. He appeared to suggest that such natural disasters were divine warnings to people that they should change course.

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