In a meeting yesterday at Tehran University, former president Mohammad Khatami warned about the “misplaced expectations” some may have with the election of moderate president Hassan Rouhani.
According to Khatami’s website, at the meeting, students from the Islamic Student Association of Tehran University shared their concerns with the Khatami and asked that they be conveyed to president-elect Rouhani.
The students expressed their desire “that this path that has been opened would be pursued by Khatami,” saying, “The continuation of this path is even more important than the beginning,” and that “This time, civil society, with the creation of organizations and groups, must be used.” Many student and political groups have either been forcibly dissolved or had their work severely limited in the last four years.
The students hoped that “Rouhani would answer the support of the elite and not let it be so that after a year or two society would become disappointed in him.” They also stated that Rouhani “should not give permission to hard-liners to think that the Reformists didn’t vote for him,” given the “significant role they played in his victory.”
“The moderate demands of the people, such as the end of the house arrest of Mir Hussein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Zahra Rahnavard, should be answered,” the students said. All three are under house arrest for contesting the 2009 election.
Khatami responded, “I know that during these years, especially the last eight years, you have endured many hardships. … Reformism means being realistic in that other than elections, there is no other path.” He continued, “After years of having Reformist discourse attacked, the people have shown that they accept Reformist discourse.” He stressed that “Reformist discourse is discourse that strives to make politics moral and not to make religion or morality political.”
Khatami said, “We have to be careful not to be hasty so that misplaced expectations are not placed on the administration. The administration cannot perform miracles.” He added, “We have to move slowly. We cannot get rid of this devastating inflation and unemployment and change our foreign relations by tomorrow. We cannot have these expectations.” He continued, “We don’t want anything from Rouhani other than what he expressed himself. But we expect him to seriously pursue it, and we want the people to be patient and realistic.”
“When we say that the environment should be opened, it means we can be a good intermediary for shaping and guiding public opinion and passing on the people’s demands to the administration,” Khatami said. “Civil society means intermediary institutions between the government and the people, not a government that rules absolutely over people and not a people who have misplaced expectations from the government.”
Khatami also stressed the role of the supreme leader in realizing some of the promises made by Rouhani, saying, “Let me say a successful president is one who coordinates with the supreme leader, and the supreme leader helps the president fulfill the promises he made to the people.”
Khatami said that it is important to “get rid of this security environment and let everyone speak their mind.” He said that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s speech, in which he said that “even those who don’t believe in the Islamic system should vote,” is a sign that means that that should be Iran’s “general policy” and not, as some say, “Everyone who is opposed should be destroyed.”
In regard to political prisoners, Khatami said, “It’s true that many of us are unhappy with the house arrest of Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi, and many of our dear ones are in prison. But those imprisoned also voted. … We want for God to free all of our dear ones.”