NewsSpecial WireIran uses fatwa to contain “unruly” festival

Iran uses fatwa to contain “unruly” festival

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Mar. 04 – Iranian authorities are using a fatwa, or religious decree, to ban the use of fireworks during this year’s traditional “fire festival” marking the end of the Persian year, Iran Focus has learnt. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Mar. 04 – Iranian authorities are using a fatwa, or religious decree, to ban the use of fireworks during this year’s traditional “fire festival” marking the end of the Persian year, Iran Focus has learnt.

Senior clerics have publicly stated that the use of fireworks in the festivities is ‘haram’, or religiously forbidden. In recent years, disenchanted Iranians, particularly the young, have turned the ancient celebrations, which occur on the last Tuesday evening of the Persian year, into a massive anti-government carnival.

Iran’s state-owned media have given much prominence to a fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, forbidding the use of firecrackers and fireworks and disapproving of the festival itself.

A top police officer announced on Friday that Iran’s State Security Forces are on full alert to deal harshly with anyone who “disrupts public order and causes problems for the traffic”.

Brigadier General Eskandar Momeni said that his forces had arrested many sellers and distributors of firecrackers.

During the pre-Islamic festival, known as ‘chaharshanbeh souri’ – literally, Feast of Wednesday – people jump over bonfires to “drive away evil”. Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, however, Iran’s theocratic leaders have made strenuous efforts to stamp out the festivities, but to no avail. In recent years, there have been extensive clashes between festive crowds and the security forces deployed to prevent street celebrations. This year the last Tuesday of the Persian year falls on March 14.

Meanwhile, Iran’s main opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK), has issued an appeal to people across the country to take part in the celebrations on the night and turn it into an anti-government protest.

Last year, despite the general ban Iranians across the country came out into the streets using the celebration as a pretext to express their anger towards the ruling theocracy. In Tehran, in several districts, effigies of Iran’s leaders such as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were burnt.

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