Iranians are expressing solidarity through social media for city council member Sepanta Niknam who was suspended for being a Zoroastrian.
Iranians are flocking to twitter to express support for Sepanta Niknam, a city council member in Yazd who has been temporarily suspended for being a Zoroastrian. The BBC said that the hashtag #Sepanta_Niknam had been tweeted over 8,100 times.
What about #Sepanta_Niknam
— Elyas (@elyas133_elyas) October 26, 2017
The decision to suspend Niknam was announced by Yazd city council chief Ghomali Sefid on October 9. This followed a directive issued on April 18 by Ayatollah Amad Jannati, a member of Iran’s Guardian Council and Assembly of Experts. The directive demanded that non-Muslims be disqualified from running in the coming local elections on May 19.
IranWire journalist Shima Shahrabi said:
‘Without referring to Iran’s constitution, he pointed to statements by Ayatollah Khomeini that proclaimed that the qualification of non-Muslim candidates would be “against Sharia.”‘
Mistreatment, persecution, or even murders of non-Muslims in Iran occurs frequently, and Sepanta Niknam’s case is just one amongst many. Zoroastrianism, a religion that pre-dates Islam, is widely regarded as the indigenous religion of Iran. Prior to the Arab Islamic conquest of Persia in the seventh century, the majority of Iranians were Zoroastrians. Today, only approximately 25,000 Zoroastrians remain in Iran.