Four Iranian dervishes from Gonabad have been sentenced to six months in prison and 40 lashes for "disturbing public order." The Jaras website reports that the four dervishes from the Nematollahi order were charged with participating in a protest against the Sarvestan Governor's office.
Last August, the dervishes set up an exhibition of mysticism in Sarvestan, after which a number of the dervishes held a peaceful rally. According to Jaras, "after the rally, government plainclothes forces attacked the exhibition, burning down the tents and breaking the windows of the Governor's office in order to force the protests into chaos and aggression."
Following the incident, 24 dervishes were arrested and four were sentenced to imprisonment and flogging.
In the past years, Islamic Republic authorities have been subjecting Gonabadi dervishes to "pressure and restrictions" and many of them have been sentenced to jail terms in recent years.
The Gonabadi dervishes are led by Noorali Tabandeh, who in the early 1980s was in charge of the Islamic Republic's Pilgrimage department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Iranian media have been banned from reporting on the Gonabadi dervishes; however, Mehdi Karroubi, the former speaker of the Parliament and current opposition leader, as well as the late dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, spoke out several times against the harassment of dervishes across the country.
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