Sunday, 11 November 2007

Police hold 180 in Iran religious clash-report
(Reuters) - Police detained 180 people in a western Iranian city after unrest involving Sufi Muslims, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Sunday.

Details about Saturday night's incident were unclear and could not be independently confirmed.
Sufi Muslims have in the past clashed with the authorities in predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran. Sufism, a form of mystical Islam, is tolerated in Iran but some of its religious leaders have called for a clampdown on the group.

Fars News Agency said the trouble began when Sufis attacked a mosque in Boroujerd, about 320 km (200 miles) southwest of Tehran, prompting scuffles between Sufis and their opponents.

"The region's security forces strove to prevent the tension from escalating and, to this end, 180 people were also detained and handed over to the judicial authorities," Fars reported, as monitored by the BBC.

It quoted a senior provincial governor as saying about 80 people were hurt but said most injuries were light.
Around 1,000 Sufis were arrested last year during clashes with authorities over the closure of a Sufi prayer house in the holy city of Qom. Fifty-two of them were sentenced to a year in jail, 74 lashes, and fines on various charges.

Although Sufis are tolerated, their belief in the mystical path to God through dance and music can rankle some within the religious establishment of the Islamic Republic. Some religious leaders have called Sufis a "danger to Islam".

Sufism is best known in the West for its "whirling dervish" dances and for the mystical poetry of 13th-century Persian poet Jalal ad-din Rumi whose works have been bestsellers in the United States. (Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Charles Dick)

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