Iranian Imam murdered in city known for anti-state protests

On Tuesday, another high profile case of murder occurred when former mayor of Tehran Mohammad-Ali Najafi shot and killed his second wife in her home.

May 29, 2019 20:36
3 minute read.
Men stand in line to vote during the Iranian presidential election in Qom

Men stand in line to vote during the Iranian presidential election in Qom. (photo credit: REUTERS/FARS NEWS)


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The Imam of Friday Prayer of the Iranian city of Kazeroun was stabbed to death on Wednesday morning, according to Radio Farda.

The Imam, Mohammad Khorsand, was stabbed in front of his home after returning from a religious ceremony early Wednesday morning, according to the provincial deputy police commander for social affairs, IRGC Colonel Kavous Mohammadi told the Iranian news agency IRNA.

The murderer was identified soon after the murder and was arrested later on Wednesday in Kazeroun. The motive for the killing is still be investigated.

Witnesses at the scene told IRNA that the murderer asked for a selfie with the Imam and then attacked him.

Large-scale protests and clashes occurred between civilians and security forces in Kazeroun in May 2018, according to Radio Farda.

The protests were triggered by a proposal to separate some districts from the city and merge them into a new town.

Hossein Rezazadeh, a local parliament member, proposed the new demarcation in order to change the status of his hometown Qaemieh to be a city, according to Etemad Online, Radio Farda reported.

At the time, the Fars news agency reported that the protest was organized on the messaging application Telegram.

Khorsand, an Imam appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stood strongly against the proposal to divide the city.

At least one person died in the protests and dozens more were arrested. The New York Center for Human Rights In Iran reported that local sources said that at least three people were killed.

In videos on social media, protestors chanted slogans against Iranian state policy and stated that the United States was not Iran’s real enemy.

“Our enemy is right here. They’re wrong to say it’s America,” protestors chanted.

The clashes culminated in a large rally in front of the Intelligence Ministry’s local office on May 16, 2018, according to Radio Farda.

Kazeroun, located in the southern Fars province, is a “demographically volatile area” according to Radio Farda, due to the cultural and ethnic mix of city dwellers and nomadic tribes who live in the area.

On Tuesday, another high profile case of murder occurred when former mayor of Tehran Mohammad-Ali Najafi shot and killed his second wife in her home, according to the Iranian news agency ISNA.

The case has been surrounded by confusion as Najafi confessed to the murder after disappearing for seven hours after the murder and an inordinate amount of media coverage has been focused on the murder, according to Radio Farda.

Interviews with Najafi at the police station showed him as unshaken and well-dressed, even as a state TV reporter emptied Najafi's gun and counted the bullets while explaining the murder in detail. Other videos showed Najafi shaking hands with the police chef and being treated with full respect. Even as he was escorted out, he smiled and remained without handcuffs.

Najafi claimed that he only wanted to scare his wife, although he ended up firing the gun five times, hitting his wife twice with one hit to the heart. Different reports contradict on some details, including whether he turned himself in or if he was arrested, according to Radio Farda.

Radio Farda found the amount of media coverage of the scandalous incident unusual, as Iranian media is controlled by the state. Usually very little information is published on scandals or sensational news. In this case, Iran's state TV news channel gave extensive coverage to the incident, including live broadcasts from police headquarters. News agencies and newspapers covered the event even more extensively with "impressive pictures," according to Radio Farda.

Iranian social media users lashed out about the Najafi incident, making accusations of conspiracy and speaking out against the politically incorrect interviews and the lack of fairness.

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