Sunni imam shot dead in northern Iran


A Sunni imam who leads Friday prayers was shot dead on Tuesday in a village in northern Iran, official news agency IRNA said.

Molavi Abdolghafur Jamalzahi was an imam at the Reza Abad mosque, near Ramiyan, around 120 kilometres northeast of Tehran in Golestan province.

He was shot four times as he returned home from the mosque, IRNA said.

Reza Abad has around 4,000 residents and a “large number of foreigners and refugees”, the news agency said.

It said that the authorities have not yet put forward a motive for Jamalzahi’s murder, but cited an anonymous source saying it could be linked to “personal hostilities and tribal strife”.

Iran is a Shia powerhouse, but the country’s constitution says Sunnis — who account for 10 per cent of the population — are “free to perform their religious rites according to their religious jurisprudence”.

Imams who lead Friday prayers, whether Sunni or Shia, are appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s highest religious and political authority.