A man, said to be about 40 years old, attacked and injured a cleric and three others with a box cutter at Shahr-e Rey subway station in Tehran, on Saturday morning, July 15.
Security forces at the station asked the attacker to hand over his weapon but he refused, forcing them to open fire, injuring him in the leg, IRNA cited the police information center in Tehran as saying. The assailant died from his injuries on the way to the hospital.
"The incident is a singular one and has no terrorist background," IRNA quoted police as saying.
Apparently, a dispute broke out after the cleric tried to sermonize the middle-aged man on the basis of “Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil”.
This is a concept considered to be a non-obligatory religious duty. Every Muslim should feel it as a duty to call upon co-religionists to do the right deeds and avoid improper actions and behavior.
Conservatives in Iran sometimes confront other citizens on the streets for bad hijab or some improper behavior and admonish them based on this principle. That often leads to arguments and even street fights.
At least one of the injured individuals in this incident was a man who was at the scene and tried to help the clergyman, it was reported.
According to Tasnim News Agency, Hadi Tamhidi, deputy governor of the Shahr-e Rey district in south Tehran, said, “The attacker ignored police warnings and refused to hand over his weapon. Therefore, police forces opened fire and arrested him.”
The aggressor and the injured ones including the cleric were taken to hospital immediately by emergency staff, however the attacker died on the way to the hospital due to critical condition, Tasnim cited Tamhidi as saying.
Meanwhile, the head of Shahr-e Rey security council, Hedayatollah Jamalipour described the assailant as a man with “uncommon” behavior. Earlier, news agencies translated the Persian word to mean “mentally disturbed”, but in fact what Jamalipour said meant the man was not in a normal condition.
The identity of the assailant has not yet been revealed.
Conservatives in Iran have long been campaigning for the establishment of a new ministry exclusively to promote “Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil”.
President Hassan Rouhani has adamantly rejected the idea, so far.
In late April 2015, Rouhani told an assembly of Iranian police officers that “The duty of the police was solely to enforce the law.
“The police’s responsibility is not to enforce Islam, and furthermore, none among them can claim that their actions are sanctioned by God or the prophet,” the president maintained.
Earlier in 2014, Rouhani had stressed, “One cannot forcefully drag people to heaven.”
The comment immediately provoked vitriolic responses from the Supreme Leader, ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his conservative allies.”
Nonetheless, Iranian Police Force has a special squad under the name of “Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil Patrol” to supervise society’s “Islamic behavior”, including respecting laws and regulations concerning “proper hijab” or Islamic dress code.
Thousands of women are detained everyday by “Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil Patrol” or moral police simply for a slipped back headscarf.
The presence of “Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil Patrol” has created confusion among those Iranian Muslims who believe that inviting people to do good and prohibiting them from evil doing is a voluntary responsibility of all Muslims, and has got nothing to do with state run institutes, including the police force.
President Rouhani has vowed time and again to strictly limit moral police interference in people’s social and public behavior.
However, his promises have not yet led to any lessening of pressures on the public.