Hard-line Iranian parliament member Ruhollah Hosseinian spoke to Reformist Shargh newspaper on the ongoing detention of Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi and whether parliament will invite former president Mohammad Khatami to President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration.
Hosseinian, who worked in the Ministry of Intelligence under Ali Fallahian when the notorious “Chain Murders” took place, at first attempted to deflect questions about Karroubi and Mousavi. When asked about MP Ali Motahhari’s recent statements in support of the two suggesting they be allowed to “defend themselves,” Hosseinian said, “This has to do with the National Security Council and it has nothing to do with me whether they remain imprisoned or not.”
Karroubi, Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest without charge since February of 2011 for protesting the 2009 election results. Their freedom, along with the freedom of many other political prisoners, was a concern of many who voted for Rouhani in the June presidential elections.
When pressed by the Shargh journalist on their detention, Hosseinian said, “I am not in favor of the freedom for those who want to establish a dictatorship, bring heresy and chaos into the country.” The interviewer then tried to move on, but Hosseinian would not let up. “Let me finish what I have to say,” he said, ignoring the question about Khatami’s presence at Rouhani’s inauguration. “They are harmful to democracy and are the enemies of democracy. They should not be so free that they threaten democracy.”
When asked again if Khatami would attend Rouhani’s inauguration, Hossenian said, “What I know is that parliament has not invited him.” When asked if Rouhani could invite him as a personal guest, Hosseinian said, “The final confirmation of the guests for the inauguration is decided by a parliamentary board.”
In a separate Shargh article, Tahereh Riahi also addressed the issue of whether Khatami would attend Rouahni’s inauguration. Khatami’s support played an instrumental role in Rouhani’s presidential victory and given that he did not attend President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inauguration in 2009, his presence would “have meaning.”
Parliamentary member Alireza Mahjoub told Shargh that “Inviting a former president to the inauguration is customary, and this act is a sign of respect by parliament toward the votes of the people.”
However, the Enthekhab website, which has been sympathetic toward Rouhani, reported today that Khatami will not attend the inauguration due to opposition from certain parliament members.
According the article, “Some extremist and minority Principlists in parliament condemned news of Khatami’s presence at the inauguration.” When Khatami “became aware of the controversy by an extremist group in parliament surrounding his presence at the inauguration, he personally denied that he would attend.”
The article stated that although Rouhani would like Khatami to attend, Khatami believes that “Rouhani’s administration should not be an administration full of controversy and conflict and at the very beginning, he does not want to create problems for Rouhani.”
A source told Entekhab, however, that “Of course, every possibility has a chance. Maybe there will be a signal from parliament that will determine his presence at the inauguration.”