Ansar-e-Hezbollah  (Persian: انصار حزبالله) (lit. 'the supporters of the party of God') is a militant conservative Islamic group in Iran. Its ideology revolves around devotion to upholding the principles of the revolution, especially the belief in Valiyat al-faqih.
Origin and status
Ansar-e Hizbullah, or Followers of the Party of God or more literally Helpers of Hizbullah in Persian, is said to be a semi-official, paramilitary group formed in 1995. Unlike some other paramilitary groups, Ansar-e Hizbullah undergoes formal training.
It is thought to be financed and protected by many senior government clerics. It is often characterized as a vigilante group as they use force but are not part of government law enforcement, although it may not meet the strict definition of the word inasmuch as the group pledge loyalty to the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei and is thought to be protected by him.
It has been described as an "offshoot"  or "vigilante associate" of the Iranian Hezbollah, a loose-knit movement of groups formed at the time of the Iranian Revolution to assist the Ayatollah Khomeini and his forces in consolidating power.
The Ansar-e-Hezbollah is known for attacking protesters at anti-government demonstrations, in particular during the Iran student riots, July 1999. and is thought to have been behind public physical assaults on two reformist government ministers in Sept. 1998.
Ansar-e-Hezbollah is thought to have been behind death threats and a "series of physical assaults" on philosopher and ex-hardliner Abdolkarim Soroush "that left him bruised, battered and often in tattered clothes." 
The organization has been associated with a crackdown on "mal-veiling", i.e. the wearing of a hejab by a woman such that some hair is visible, which has been blamed in Iran for inciting sexual assaults. They operate Yalasarat, a newspaper and associated website that explain the official positions of hardliners in the Iranian government on female behavior.
Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad killing
A 2000 expose of Ansar-e Hezbollah involved the murder of Ezzat Ebrahim-Nejad. Ebrahim-Nejad was a university student and poet whose killing by "plain-clothesmen" following a peaceful protest over a newspaper closing was partially responsible for the destructive five-day-long Iran student riots in July 1999. In March 2000, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi reports a man by the name of Amir Farshad Ebrahimi appeared at her office claiming to have
firsthand information about his comrades who had carried out the attack on the dormitory. He said he belonged to … Ansar-e Hezbollah … and that the group's chief had thrown him in prison for trying to resign from his unit.
Ebadi made a videotape of Ebrahimi confession in which he claimed that not only had his group been involved in the attack on the dormitory where Ebrahim-Nejad was killed, but that "During the time he was active in the group, he had also been involved in violent attacks on two reformist ministers" in president Khatami's cabinet.
Hardline newspapers reported the existence of the confession, which they called the "Tape makers" case. In a number of inflammatory stories they claimed Ebrahimi was mentally unstable and that Ebadi and another lawyer Rohami had manipulated him into testifying, and in any case confession blemished the Islamic revolution. Ebadi and Rohami were sentenced to five years in jail and suspension of their law licenses for sending Ebrahimi's videotaped deposition to President Khatami. Ebarahimi was sentenced to 48 months jail, including 16 months in solitary confinement.
2009 Election Protests
References and notes
- CIA - The World Factbook see the "Government" section, "Political pressure groups and leaders" subsection in the 2006 version
- Ansar-i Hizbullah Followers of the Party of God
- Basij Militia. NYT.com June 19, 2009
- Debate hots up in Iranian media July 1999
- Vigilantes join the fray June 2003
- Amnesty International. 1997. "Iran: Human Rights Violations Against Shi'a Religious Leaders and Their Followers." London: Amnesty International. (MDE 13/18/97)
- Middle East International, 15 Oct. 1999, 23
- Injustice and ill treatment Amnesty International 7 July 2004
- Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
- The Last Great Revolution by Robin Wright c2000, p.56
- CORRESPONDENT (2011-07-08). "Paint it Black: The Hejab Hype and the Force of Fear". PBS Frontline.
- "Ansar-i Hizbullah". Globalsecurity.org.
- Ebadi, Shirin, Iran Awakening, by Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni, Random House New York, 2006, p.160-1
- Daragahi, Borzou; Mostaghim, Ramin; Murphy, Kim (19 June 2009). "Iran protests continue for fourth day". Los Angeles Times.
- Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran ISBN 0-393-05119-6
- Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: The One, The Few, and The Many ISBN 0-521-65971-X
- Official site (in Persian)
- Letter to Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei
- Ansar-i Hizbullah, Followers of the Party of God
- Iran's Hardline Vigilantes and the Prospects for Reform June 2001
- Terrorism: Terror Organizations