By EHSAN MEHRABI
For more than three decades, Molavi Abdolhamid has been the most prominent Sunni clergyman in majority Shia Iran. He is a figure that has been present on the political scene over the past 25 years. The cleric attracted attention during the 2005 presidential election, when candidates sought to attract the votes of Iran’s Sunni community, and then as tensions rose in the eastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, home to a Sunni Baluch minority estimated to number up to 2 million people. More recently, his remarks regarding Iran’s ongoing nationwide protests made the headlines, in particular his call on the country’s Shia clerical leadership to organize a referendum.
Molavi Abdolhamid Ismaeelzahi was born in 1947 in the village of Galugah, Sistan and Baluchestan, and attended school in Zahedan, the provincial capital, before moving to Pakistan. In 1970, he returned to Zahedan to teach at the Darul Uloom Seminary, now the biggest Sunni seminary in Iran.Continue reading