Iran’s Supreme Leader on Sunday told law enforcement officials to deal with gun trade on social media, after a cleric was killed by a gunman the previous day.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s official website quoted him saying, “The murderer of the clergyman yesterday in Hamadan had published his photos on Instagram with four different weapons, and it is the duty of police to deal with this kind of cases”.
Khamenei was referring to the shooting of a 46 year old cleric in the Western city of Hamadan with an AK-47 assault rifle.
The police announced on Sunday that the killer was identified as Behrouz Hajiloo and in less than 24 hours was killed in a shootout with agents that lasted 20 minutes. Two police officers were also lightly injured.
The motives for the killing of the clergyman are not clear, but Iran’s minister of communications wrote on his Instagram that the murder suspect’s social media posts are full of “his racism”. He has not elaborated on what kind of racist posts the suspect has published.
Khamenei in his remarks condemning trade in weapons added, “In some countries such as the United States buying and selling guns is permitted because of the financial interests of gun-manufacturing mafia companies, but in our country we don’t have this problem and it is forbidden to buy and sell guns, which must be stopped”.
He also stressed on the “security of cyberspace” and said, “Cyberspace today has an expanded role in people’s lives and along with its benefits it also has dangers”.
Khamenei criticized the police for not being at its Islamic best and demanded from law enforcement to “seriously combat smuggling and deal with those who create insecurity in cyberspace”.
In recent years, there have been other cases of citizens murdering clergymen or vice versa. In 2018, a young man was executed for killing a cleric who had raped him repeatedly in his adolescence when he was a student at a seminary.
Human rights observers noted that during the trial of the young man, the issue of rape had been ignored. The brother of the man who was killed is a senior official close to Khamenei.
In 2006, a clergyman killed a young man named Ali Ahmadinejad in Karaj, near Tehran for saying something unethical to a woman in the metro. Eyewitnesses at the time said that the cleric pushed the young man to the ground and fired his handgun at his head. They also said that when police arrived the clergyman showed an ID card and walked away.
Morality police in Iran and clergymen have the right to apprehend people for not respecting the dress code, drinking alcohol or similar “unethical” behavior. Often fights break out when they admonish a citizen in public.
Later, the Special Court for Clergy announced that the murderer was charged with the killing and carrying an unlicensed handgun and will stand trial, but no further developments were reported in the case.