“Khomeini Would Have Been Disqualified:” Hashemi Rafsanjani’s Supporters React to His Rejection

Mehrun Etebari
Mehrun Etebari Senior Research Assistant

May 22, 2013

The move by the Guardian Council, announced yesterday, to deem former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani unqualified to run in the upcoming presidential election was accepted by some elements of Iranian political society – particularly among the more conservative elements of the Principlist camp – but came as a shock to many of his supporters, who tend to lie in the reformist and centrist segments of the Iranian political spectrum.  Below are four translated excerpts of reactions from notable Rafsanjani supporters in Iran.

Tehran MP Ali Motahari, a frequent conservative critic of Ahmadinejad and a leading Principlist supporter of Rafsanjani’s candidacy, in an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appealing Rafsanjani’s disqualification:

“This disqualification, with was made based on the two unjustified reasons of physical incapacity and playing a role in the sedition of 1388 (2009), will inflict serious damage on the upcoming election, and will not contribute to correctly building the political epic you are seeking.  I strongly believe that, if Imam Khomeini himself had, under a different name, participated in this election, even he would have been disqualified, for even he faced some criticism at times.  Be informed that, with the entrance of Mr. Hashemi into the election, such enthusiasm erupted among the people and such hope entered their hearts for a reform of problems and for expedited progress of the nation, and that with his disqualification, naturally this enthusiasm and hope has disappeared.”

(For further coverage of this letter in English, visit Al Monitor.)

Elsewhere, Motahari mocked what he saw as the arbitrary nature of the “physical capacity” justification for Rafsanjani’s disqualification, telling Mehr News, “I propose that, to assess the physical capacity of Mr. Hashemi, there be a 200 meter race between him and Mr. Jalili [who reportedly lost part of a leg in the Iran-Iraq War] and a wrestling match between him and Mr. Haddad-Adel.”

Reformist political analyst and professor Sadegh Zibakalam, writing on his Facebook page:

“The atmosphere that took hold in our society after the registration of Mr. Hashemi was reminiscent of that of the 2nd of Khordad, 1376 [the date on which Mohammad Khatami won a sweeping victory in the 1997 presidential election].  I was personally surprised by the extent of the celebrations and the wave of happiness and jubilation that erupted.  In the week that followed, I saw many people, including academics, bazaaris, and others, who would say that they had planned not to vote but were doubting that decision with the arrival of Hashemi.  I believe that Mr. Hashemi’s age is just an excuse and the true reason [for his disqualification] is the wave that occurred in society and caused deep worry to the Principlists.  I believe that…we were heading for another 2nd of Khordad.  How did they wish to stop this wave?  The wave was either leading to a 2nd of Khordad of 1376 or to a 22nd of Khordad of 1388 [the date of the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad in 2009].”

Zahra Mostafavi, politician and daughter of Khomeini, in open letter of appeal to Khamenei:

“The very day that I heard the Imam [Khomeini] express his approval of yourself to be the leader – and I have always defended and expressed that view myself when necessary – I also learned of the approval of Mr. Hashemi’s qualification, for the Imam mentioned his name too, just after yours.  Fortunately, and as you deserved, you were elected by the Assembly of Experts, and I did not see the need to bring up his comments on this matter.  But unfortunately, today I see that the Guardian Council has taken it upon itself to disqualify [Hashemi] from the presidency.  As a sister, I tell you that this action has no purpose but to insert distance in between two companions of the Imam and to neglect the delight and happiness the people on the street had found for the system.”  

(For further coverage of her remarks in English, visit Al Monitor.)

Naimeh Eshraghi, Granddaughter of Khomeini and reformist activist, as quoted in remarks to the Tasnim news site

“Advanced age is not something for the Guardian Council to assess, as the law allows for people of that age to become candidates for the presidency.  If the Guardian Council disqualified Hashemi, it should have a convincing reason to do this…and Mr. Hashemi will certainly react via legal means, although I do not believe that he will show objection in this matter.  The solution to Mr. Hashemi’s disqualification by the Guardian Council is not to crowd the streets in protests and creating disturbances.”