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New Ahwaz Mayor sacks Ahwazi Arab workers

Ahwaz City Council has axed around 400 Ahwazi Arab workers on the orders of the city's new mayor, Mansour Katanbaf.

The decision to sack the workers was ostensibly because the council is in financial hardship and is seeking to reduce costs, but all those made redundant are believed to be ethnically Arab. There are suspicions that the jobs will be filled by non-Arab personnel, possibly from outside the Ahwaz region.

Katanbaf was born in Ahwaz City in 1960 and had previously served as a civil servant in one of Tehran's borough councils. The new mayor, who was appointed three months ago, is regarded as one of the most extreme supporters of the Iranian regime and is a former member of the Revolutionary Guard. He is an ethnic Shushtari, a non-Arab whose family originate from Shushtar city about 70km from Ahwaz. Historically, powerful members of the Shushtari community have had uneasy relations with the Arabs and Lurs who live in the region.

Katanbaf's decision is a major blow to the Ahwazi community following a series of redundancies in the industrial sector. Two weeks ago, 38 Arabs were summarily dismissed from a sugar producing company after complaining about the axing of Ahwazi jobs. There are also reports that around 10,000 Ahwazi workers, the majority of whom are Arab, have lost their jobs at local brickworks following the completion of a number of construction projects.