I am concerned by the report that a place of worship of the Gonabadi dervishes in Isfahan has been demolished by the Iranian authorities. Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe writes
The reason for the destruction — which reportedly took place shortly after midnight on February 18 — is not clear, but it comes amid growing pressure on dervishes, who practice the Sufi tradition of Islam, and other religious minorities in Iran.
The dervish house of worship, or hosseinieh, was located next to the tomb of the great poet and dervish Naser Ali at the historical Takht-e Foulad cemetery, where a number of respected Iranian figures are buried.
Dervishes gathered there to pray, meditate, read Sufi poetry, and perform religious ceremonies. In recent months, following the demolition of several dervish sites throughout Iran, dervishes in Isfahan had expressed concern that their hosseinieh could meet a similar fate.
To prevent that from happening, several of the local dervishes were spending nights at the hosseinieh to keep watch.
But there was little they could do when, in the early hours of February 18, some 200 members of the security forces, police, and plainclothes agents arrived.
The dervishes’ mobile phones were taken away to prevent them from informing others of the raid, and they were detained and transferred to a police station.
Abdol Saleh Loghmani, one of the Isfahan dervishes, told RFE/RL that the security forces cut off water and electricity to the area, and destroyed the walls around the poet’s tomb with a bulldozer.
“They also destroyed the library where [religious] books were kept. They demolished the big hall where we had our Monday and Friday ceremonies and also our Sunday dawn meetings. They took away all the carpets and other property,” he said.
He said the five people were detained, but they were released after the authorities completed the demolition. He that added authorities then dispersed the dervishes who, after hearing the news about the destruction, had gathered around the site.
Source: Radio Free Europe