In unprecedented remarks the Friday Prayer Imam of the city of Shiraz, southern Iran, has claimed that Iranian Shiite cleric-missionaries propagating Islam are being killed in South America.
Speaking at Friday prayers ceremony, June 20, the mid-ranking clergy, Lotfollah Dezhkam, stopped short of going into details but insisted that the Islamic Republic should train more missionaries and deploy them in different countries across the globe.
There have been no reports about any Shiite clerics being killed in Latin America and it is not clear what the Imam was referring to.
Brazil is one of the Islamic Republic's targets for propagating the Twelver-Shiite doctrine, Dezhkam said.
An institute directly supervised by the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Al-Mustafa International University (MIU), has in recent years trained an unknown number of Shiite missionaries to promote the faith in Latin America, especially in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Meanwhile, MIU also takes newly converted Shiites to Iran for religious studies and tours in Qom and Mashhad. Qom and Mashhad are home to important Twelver-Shiite seminaries in Iran, respectively.
During the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, MIU was singled out as the main factor in spreading the virus. MIU hosts hundreds of Chinese Muslims of Uighur ethnic minority who initially spread the deadly virus in the city of Qom south of the Iranian capital city Tehran.
First a medical school dean and later the Sunni Friday Imam of the city of Zahedan, Mawlana Abdol-Hamid announced that the coronavirus had entered Iran through Chinese students linked to MIU.
The revelation led to MIU's denial, accusing the Sunni Friday Prayer Imam of spreading lies.
MIU has so far trained 50,000 students from 122 nations. One teacher and advisor at Al-Mustafa, Mohsen Rabbani, served for decades as the Islamic Republic's top intelligence officer in Latin America and is wanted for his role in the 1994 AMIA terror attack in Buenos Aires, which claimed 85 lives.
Rabbani's top disciple and graduate of Al-Mustafa, Edgardo Ruben Suhail Assad, has established more than twenty Shiite religious centers in Latin America. Al-Mustafa and the Islamic Development Organization closely coordinate their efforts in sending missionaries abroad.