Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said Iran’s enemies have failed in creating ethnic and religious discord in Iran’s Kurdistan region as tensions rise in several Kurdish cities over an alleged rape of a Kurdish girl.
In a written statement, published on his official website, Khamenei said enemy conspiracies to use ethnicity and religion to make the Kurdistan region insecure have been unsuccessful.
His statements were read out at a congress commemorating Kurdish Peshmerga troops who were killed during the Iran-Iraq war, which was held Monday in the city of Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province.
The bravery and sacrifices of Kurdish people have foiled the enemy’s plot, his statement read.
“The enemy will not sit idly, and will, as much as it can, use the security, propaganda and financial tools”, the statement read.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself a Twelver Shia, holds the post of Welayat-e Faqih or the Guardianship of Jurisprudence.
He is proclaimed by Iran’s constitution as the religious authority of Sunni Muslims as well as Shia Muslims.
Although he does not have official authority over local communities in Shia-populated countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen and Azerbaijan, he has the final say on religious issues of his followers.
Earlier on May 16, he said Iran will continue its support for oppressed nations. His remarks came after he accused Saudi Arabia of being a puppet of the West.
Tensions in Mahabad
Khamenei’s statements comes as tensions were reported between Kurdish protesters and security forces across the Kurdish cities of Iran.
On Wednesday, more than 400 protesters were reportedly detained by Iranian security forces in Mahabad.
Protests erupted on May 4 after Farinaz Khosrawani, 23, was reportedly exposed to sexual harassment by an Iranian security officer at Tarai hotel, where Khosrawani was working. She threw herself from the fourth floor of the hotel and died.
Iran’s Interior Ministry denied the claims.
Iran is home to 8 million Kurds, spread over four provinces. Most Kurds belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, while the Kurds of Kermanshah province are mainly Shia.
Meanwhile, Turkish newspapers also reported last week that the Iranian army fired artillery shells against posts of the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK, in the Qandil mountains.
The Qandil mountains are located inside Iraq, and PKK terrorists based in the mountains frequently attack Turkish bases in Turkey.
PKK’s Iranian branch, PJAK, uses the same mountainous area to carry out similar attacks on Iranian territory.