This report originally appeared in Rooz Online

In a measure to control people faithful to other religions and denominations, the Qom ‎Theological Center has formed a committee to combat activities of members of religious ‎minorities and schools. ‎

Cleric Mohammad Hassan Nabavi, the center’s public relations deputy, noted, “combating ‎deviant religions and denominations” was the reason behind the establishment of the so-called ‎‎”Minority Committee” during the latest meeting of Friday prayer leaders from across the nation. ‎According to this Qom Theological Center deputy, the “Minority Committee” was established at ‎the center to undertake “cultural confrontation” of religious minorities and prevent the growth ‎and spread of minority religions in Iran. ‎

According to the unpublished remarks of Nabavi on the official theological center’s website, “In ‎this respect, action groups dealing with Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Bahaism, Sufism, ‎Wahhabism and new spiritual schools have been set up with the duty to culturally confront any ‎conspiracy that is being undertaken.” He added that the responsibility of the “Minority ‎Committee” at the Qom seminary is to monitor the activities of members of religious minorities, ‎especially with respect to their promotion of competing religions or beliefs, noting, “If these ‎religions and denominations advertised against Shiism or acted in a way that undermined the ‎principles of Islam or Shiism, we would become active to confront them.” ‎

This high ranking cleric at the Qom seminary did not expand on the nature of conspiracies that ‎may be regarded by the “Qom Theological Center Minority Committee” as threats to the ‎country’s official religion. However, he accused religious minorities in Iran of communicating ‎with foreigners, adding, “Religions and sects that are supported and empowered by agents ‎outside the country to weaken the centrality of the Islamic regime would be culturally ‎confronted.” ‎

In another part of his speech at the recent gathering of Friday Prayer leaders from across the ‎nation, the Qom seminary’s deputy voiced concern about the growth of religious minorities, ‎noting, “Unfortunately, we have witnessed a population decline in certain Shia areas of the ‎country, and this poses a serious danger.” Cleric Nabavi also warned about the activities of ‎Bahaiis and their growth in population, adding, “Recently even the Bahais, who are not ‎recognized in any way, have become seriously active.” Mohammad Hassan Nabavi also told the ‎nation’s Friday Prayer leaders, “All of Iran’s sects have become seriously active and multi-‎faceted support (domestically and from abroad) for them is questionable.” ‎

The Qom Theological Center’s deputy also called for more serious efforts to confront leaders of ‎religious minority groups in Iran, noting, “We are not against unity, but under the guise of unity, ‎leaders of the conspiratorial sects are in safe haven.” ‎

The news of the establishment of a Minority Committee at the Qom seminary is published during ‎a period in which religious minorities find themselves facing increasing pressures and ‎restrictions. Since last winter, at least two Sunni clerics from Zahedan have been executed on ‎charges of cooperating with an armed group in Zahedan and several other Sunni clerics, ‎including the director and several of the writers of the Sunni Online website, the mouthpiece for ‎the Sunni religious seminary in Zahedan have been behind bars for months. ‎

A number of leaders of the Bahai faith have also been under arrest since early this year and some ‎Christians in various cities have either been arrested or are subjected to interrogations. ‎

“Cultural confontration” and “growth in population [of Baha'is]“:- doublespeak for “aggresive persecution” and “we have failed to eradicate the community”