Iran’s hardline prosecutor-general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri has warned that the country’s Judiciary will take “legal action” against the supporters of Ayatollah Sadeq Shirazi.
In an interview with Iran’s state TV (IRIB) on Saturday March 10, Montazeri accused Shriazi’s supporters of “planning to flare up disputes between Muslim sects.”
A group of Ayatollah Sadeq Shirazi’s supporters attacked the Iranian embassy in London Friday afternoon.
Montazeri characterized Shirazi’s supporters as “a Qom-based group that has been active in Iran for years.”
Speaking on the arrest of Shirazi’s son in Qom last week, Montazeri said: “A court in Qom advised the group to stop sowing differences between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, but they ignored the advice. This gentleman was summoned to the court but refused to show up. It was only then that security forces arrested him for questioning and indictment.”
Hossein Shirazi, the grand ayatollah’s son, was arrested last week after a speech that criticized Velayat-e Faqih, the underlying principle of Khamenei’s “supreme” leadership. It was in protest to his arrest that Shirazi’s followers attacked the Iranian embassy in London.
Police in London quickly arrested the assailants. Nevertheless, Iran’s prosecutor-general accused the police as acting like “by-standers,” further accusing Shirazi’s followers of being “under British protection.”
The Shirazi family are known for their traditional conservative views. Shirazi’s grandfather, Mirza-ye Shirazi was the man who banned the use of tobacco in Iran in the 19th century and put an end to a concession Nassereddin Shah Qajar had given to the British.
The Shirazis have been constantly under pressure by the Islamic Republic and some of them spent years under house arrest because of their opposition to the new regime’s views on Islam following the 1979 Islamic revolution. They also have a strong following among Shiites in Iraq.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his close aides have labelled the Shirazis as “British clerics” in several occasions, accusing them of being under British influence.
Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday summoned the British ambassador to Tehran, Nicholas Hopton, in protest to the incident in London. Meanwhile the Rouhani administration’s spokesman Mohamad Baqer Nobakht has said that Tehran will show “a firm response” to the attack on its embassy.
Other reports from Iran indicate that although the attack on the Iranian embassy was in protest to Hossein Shirazi’s arrest, grand ayatollah Sadeq Shirazi is “unhappy” about the incident.
Deaths in Custody and Clamp-Down on Anti-Hijab Demonstrators
Elsewhere in his interview, Montazeri briefly touched upon the death in custody of Iranian-Canadian environmentalist Kavous Seyed Emami and the clamp-down on protesters against compulsory hijab.
Montazeri once again accused the environmentalists of “espionage,” and said that Emami, “like another two or three prisoners” committed suicide in jail, taking advantage of prison wardens’ “negligence.”
He said Emami’s suicide took only 15 minutes. In contradiction to this, Emami’s son has said that in the video officials have shown the victim’s family, Emami went into another room from his cell for seven hours before he was found dead.
Meanwhile, Montazeri stressed that Muslim and non-Muslim women in Iran should have hijab in public, but they are free to wear what they like inside their homes.
This comes while Iran’s security forces regularly storm private parties at homes and arrest women for various things including not wearing a scarf.
He said “enemies” deceive women and encourage them to abandon their hijab.
Khamenei also has said that “the enemies” spend hefty amounts for their propaganda against hijab.