Iran MP: If Khomeini Were Alive He’d Be Disqualified

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Outspoken conservative Iranian MP Ali Motahari has written a controversial letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in response to the disqualification of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanani, who is one of the founding members of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was disqualified by the Guardian Council to run for Iran’s presidential elections in June. The decision stunned many and is viewed by some analysts as a sign of Khamenei’s increasing concentration of power.

Motahari’s letter has been deleted from some, but not all, domestic Iranian websites, but many foreign-based Persian-language websites have republished the short letter in its entirety.

Motahari, who is close to Rafsanjani, wrote, “On the Guardian Council’s disqualification of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani for the presidency, it appears the disqualification has happened with two unjustifiable reasons: his physical inabilities and his role in the 2009 sedition. This is damaging to the upcoming elections and this will not help realize the ‘epic politics’ that you have spoken of.” In March, Khamenei named this Iranian year the year of “Epic Politics and Epic Economics.”

The letter continued, “My strong assumption is that if Imam Khomeini were alive and he registered under a pseudonym, he would be disqualified, because sometimes he expressed criticism.” Although Rafsanjani has never publicly criticized Khamenei, after the 2009 contested elections Rafsanjani took a moderate tone with regard to the protesters, and it is commonly understood that the two are at odds over various political and economic issues of the country.

Motahari wrote, “You are informed that with the entry of Rafsanjani to the political scene, how much enthusiasm it created among the people and how much hope it gave them for reform and growth. With his disqualification, naturally, this enthusiasm and hope has disappeared.” He continued, “My recommendation is that with a hokme hokoomati, you approve of Rafsanjani’s” candidacy.

The term hokme hokoomati (literally, government decree) is in essence an extralegal verdict that the Supreme Leader can issue to overturn affairs of the state. The term was first used by Mehdi Karroubi as parliament speaker in 2000, when the parliament’s desire to reform press laws was abruptly ended by Khamenei.

Eshagh Jahangiri, the head of Rafsanjani’s campaign, said, “Rafsjanjani entered the presidential race to perform his duty based on the existing necessities of the country.” He added, however, that “Rafsanjani will not protest” the decision of the Guardian Council to disqualify him.

Another notable disqualification yesterday was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. Of Mashaei’s disqualification, Ahmadinejad said, “I know Mashaei to be a religious and pure man and useful for the country, and with an understanding of this traits and abilities, I introduced him” for the presidency. He continued, “I will follow this matter with the supreme leader until the final moment and solve this problem.”

Ahmadinejad said, “I want friends sympathetic to myself and Mashaei to be patient and ready, because with the existence of the supreme leader, a problem will not come about in the country; this problem will be solved.”

Mashaei said yesterday of his disqualification, “I’ve talked about this issue before. I view my disqualification as oppression, and its solution will be pursued through the supreme leader.”