Complaint Filed Against Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff

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The spokesman for Iran’s parliament’s Article 90 committee has notified parliament that a “complaint case against the statements of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei has been sent to the Ministry of Intelligence and the inspector-general of the country.”

According to Mehr, Mostafa Afzalifard, the spokesman, said, “This case is specifically for the statements of Mashaei regarding the Iranian school of thought, the prophets, the management of the Prophet David, Jesus Christ and the Zionist regime.”

Mashaei, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, has been outspoken on various religious and social issues, including the promotion of the Iranian-Islamic school of thought, as opposed to strict Islam. He had also called the American and Israeli people “friends” and felt that the problem was between the two governments.

Mashaei was eventually labeled as belonging to the “deviant current” within the administration by various hard-liners in Iran. However, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood by Mashaei (whose daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son), causing him to lose the support of many fellow hard-liners, including the powerful hard-line cleric Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi.

In his second term, Ahmadinejad appointed Mashaei vice president. However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei objected to the appointment, forcing Ahmadinejad to remove him from that position and appointing him chief of staff instead.

Although Ahmadinejad pushed heavily to have Mashaei succeed him as president, he was disqualified to run by the Guardian Council.

Last week, the same committee filed charges against the president himself. The reason for the complaint was not revealed.

Iranian Sunni Leader Meets With Rouhani

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Prominent Iranian Sunni leader Maulana Abdulhamid, from Iran’s southeast Sistan and Baluchistan province, met with president-elect Rouhani and former president Mohammad Khatami. Abdulhamid’s interview with the Reformist Bahar is the first interview with a major domestic media outlet in some time, and was shared widely on social media. The meeting could signal the beginning of improved relations between the central government and some of Iran’s more economically and politically deprived provinces.

Abdulhamid said that Rouhani’s “attention to ethnic and religious minorities is higher than we expected.” He continued, “The biggest criticism of ethnic minorities is the absence of qualified Sunni individuals in the previous administrations. Sunnis have frequently complained about this.” In Iran’s government, top posts are almost always assigned to individuals from the Shia sect.

Abudlhamid expressed his hope that a deputy would be assigned to address ethnic and religious issues. He criticized the current policy of having an adviser to the president to address these issues, saying, “In the last year, the Sunni adviser was not able to the see the president once. The position of the adviser needs to be eliminated and be replaced with a deputy.”

“We expect to have the same freedoms as Christians and Jews,” said Abdulhamid. “Shiites and Sunnis are brothers and they must be able to tolerate one another.” Abdulhamid said that although there was improvement in “services, construction and development, the major issue was hiring and assigning responsibilities and positions to Sunnis.” Although local representatives can advise in the process, the president chooses the governors of the provinces.

Abdulhamid said that although there was much more freedom under Reformist Khatami, “The last eight years of the Principilists in power, more pressure was applied to Sunnis. Some of the problems all Iranians shared, but there were additional problems for us. The people that would come here were prejudiced and would apply their plans with bias.”

Abdulhamid hopes that Rouhani’s “election slogan of moderation is implemented.”