Conservative Iran MP indicted for criticizing 2009 election arrests

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Conservative and outspoken Iranian MP Ali Motahhari criticized the head of the judiciary for indicting him after he questioned the independence of the judiciary for the harsh sentences that many political activists received for the 2009 election protests.

While the indictment of Motahhari appears to be mostly symbolic at the moment, since MPs have immunity unless they violate the constitution, the judiciary’s actions and statements made by hard-liners in regard to the 2009 protests reveal still deep divide at the upper echelon of the Islamic Republic of Iran over the 2009 contested election and those who are still imprisoned for challenging the results. Continue reading

Khamenei website says 2009 protests ‘unforgivable’

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The personal website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published a poster suggesting a court case that rules the 2009 protests “unforgivable.”

The poster, whose slogan of “unforgivable” was recently repeated by Iran’s police chief, will have significant ramifications for President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, which according to administration officials has been working behind the scenes for the release of 2009 presidential candidates from house arrest. Continue reading

Minister Denies Rouhani Will Play Role in Mousavi, Karroubi Case

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Contradicting his previous statements, Iran’s Justice Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said that President Hassan Rouhani’s administration would not get involved in the effort to release Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavarad and Mehi Karroubi, who are approaching nearly 1,000 days of house arrest.

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Iran MP Calls Karroubi, Mousavi ‘Enemies of Democracy’

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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.”

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Karroubi’s Wife Condemns Request for Mousavi, Karroubi to ‘Repent’

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Fatemeh Karroubi, the wife of Mehdi Karroubi who is currently under house arrest without charge for contesting the outcome of the 2009 presidential elections, has written an open letter criticizing a conservative politician’s request that Karroubi “repent.”

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Khatami: If I Run In The Elections, The People Will Pay the Price

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Former President Mohammad Khatami spoke to a group of veterans, discussing not only the likely outcome of his candidacy but also the critical state Iran is facing domestically and internationally.

“The reality is that they will not allow me to enter the political scene,” Khatami said,  meaning the security and intelligence forces, who are under the control of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He added: “Assume I run … their unhappiness and concerns will increase and they will make you pay the cost, and it will be a cost with no results. Personally, for me, the cost that will be imposed on the people with my candidacy is an unbearable cost. Especially when they don’t want it and they will not allow it how can I run, and even more so, how can one move forward a nation which has so many difficulties and hardships? Assuming I run, it would be to pay the price to make things better, but not to pay a price for things to get worse.” Continue reading

Hard-line Cleric: Reformists Will Not Be Allowed to Run

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Several powerful and influential clerics have given statements on whether Reformists will run for the presidency or be disqualified by the Guardian Council, the body of clerics that vets candidates for the elections in Iran. The most prominent to be mentioned from the Reformist camp is former president Mohammad Khatami, although other names have also been mentioned as potential candidates as well.

Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi said that “the Reformists are after a candidate that will not be disqualified, [but] their leaders will certainly be disqualified.” Mesbah Yazdi, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts, the body of clerics that theoretically serves as an oversight body for the Supreme Leader, said that “after the sedition of 2009, the Reformists no longer have a place amongst the people.”

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‘Argo’ A Sign of America’s ‘Political Desperation,’ Says Iran Presidential Candidate

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Hojat Al-Islam Mostafa Pourmohammadi, presidential candidate and head of the Judiciary’s Inspection Organization, described the Oscar-winning film as “neither strong nor good in story or structure” to Mehr News agency on Sunday.

Pourmohammadi said that America’s “political desperation shows that America has reached a point that it needs to give a film like ‘Argo’ a prize.” He compared “Argo” to the Iranian film by Asghar Farhadi “A Separation,” which won the Best Foreign film Oscar last year. He said that “when we see ‘Argo,’ our admiration for ‘A Separation’ grows,” adding that “although there are critiques to be made of the film, as far as the message, capacity, originality and structure, [‘A Separation’] has room for praise.”

Most Iranian political figures have been skeptical of Iranian films that have reached critical acclaim in Europe and America and have accused the filmmakers of painting “a dark picture” of political or social life Iran. Pourmohammadi’s praise of “A Separation,” which centered on divorce and immigration, two increasingly prominent themes in Iranian life, seemed mostly a response to “Argo.”

“Argo” has reportedly been a popular movie on the black market in Iran. Pourmohammadi encouraged those who want to view the movie to watch it with a “critical” eye.

Renewed Calls for the Release of Mousavi and Karoubi

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A prominent political figure from the traditional right has renewed his calls for the release of opposition figures Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest. Habibolla Asgarowladi, who heads the Followers of Imam and Supreme Leader Front, described the two-year house detention of the 2009 presidential candidates as “a lock that, if not opened, will cause problems again in the next elections.”

This is not the first time Asgarowladi has called for the release of the two opposition figures, nor is it the first time he has a used a lock analogy to describe their imprisonment and political situation.

Asgarowladi continued that “the lock was an attachment of Mousavi and Karoubi to the sedition [2009 post-election uprising]; while the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] said that the seditionists were the Americans and the Zionists, and from this I deduced that there is a difference between the sedition and those who fell under the sedition.”

Asgarowladi also said that he believed that the Principalist 2+1 Coalition between Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Supreme Leader advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and GholamAli Haddad Adel was “rushed” and that they should have waited before making the announcement.

In reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s two terms, Asgarowladi said that the process of “consulting was trampled.” He added that “from the perspective of the Quran, consulting has a lot of value.” He critiqued Ahmadinejad for clashing with the different branches of the government. Asgarowladi said that bills “approved by parliament and the Guardian Council are laws, both Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and Agha [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] have both confirmed this procedure. It is not correct for someone to say ‘I do not accept this procedure.’”

In regard to “war and peace,” Asgarowladi said that “according to the law, only the Supreme Leader can express his opinions” on these issues.

High ranking Reformists have first meeting with Supreme Leader since 2009

The Reformist daily Etemaad has reported that three well-known Reformist politicians have met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The politicians were former MP and vice president for Legal affairs and Parliamentary Affairs, Hojjat al-Islam Majid Ansari, Hojjat al-Islam Abdol Vahed Mousavi Lari, a former Interior Minister and Eshaq Jahangiri, a former Minister of the Industry. It has also been speculated that Jahangiri could be a potential presidential candidate put forward by the Reformists.

According to Etemaad the last official meeting between members of the Reformist camp and the Supreme Leader was 16 June 2009 when representatives of the presidential candidates attended a meeting in order to convey the latter’s views on key issues. Moreover, it is claimed that since that day there have been no reports of meetings between the Supreme Leader and the Reformists.

Ansari, who is also a member of the Reformist Assembly of Combatant Clergy, described the meeting as “very good” and added that a number of the major issues facing the country were discussed. Details however, were not forthcoming. But apparently the upcoming presidential election was not addressed in the course of the meeting.

The meeting is significant insofar as since Iran’s controversial 2009 presidential election which saw the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a considerable swathe of Reformist politicians have been jailed and pushed to the side lines of Iranian political life. Two of the major Reformist political organizations, the Organization of the Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Iran Participation Front, were also dissolved.

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