July 26, 2009

Rafsanjani’s Continued Defiance & Iran’s Top Clerics

“My standpoint (about the election) is the same as I mentioned in the Friday prayer sermon,” Rafsanjani said today, according to a Reuters translation of the semi-official ILNA news agency.
In doing so, he refused to back down despite a call by the majority of the Assembly of Experts, the body Rafsanjani heads, to be more supportive of Ayatollah Khamenei. 50 of the 86 members said in the statement that, “Many … expect the head of the assembly, who has always helped the leader in solving problems and obstacles in the past, to show more and clearer support for the leader during these sensitive times.”
The Assembly is bestowed with the authority to supervise and even replace the supreme leader by the Iranian Constitution, giving statements by the majority of its members much significance.
The apparent support for Khamenei by a majority within the Assembly of Experts may help explain why Iran’s opposition leadership made a more direct appeal to the top clerics in Qum yesterday:

(AP) The appeal to the clerics came in a letter signed by the main opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi, former President Mohammad Khatami and 67 other prominent reformists.
The letter, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press, accused the government of forcing the admissions.
“They have resorted to illegal, immoral and un-Islamic methods to obtain confessions,” said the letter. “What legal, Islamic or human rights code can justify the repeated torture of those who live under the banner of Islam?”
The letter said the government’s methods recalled those used under the shah, who was ousted in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“The only way out of this situation is to release all detainees and put an end to the security state imposed after the election,” the letter said.
The opposition hopes that enlisting the support of the clerics will provide an effective counterweight to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has dismissed the opposition’s claims of fraud in the June 12 election.
Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say over all state matters, but the nine clerics in Qum who hold the rank of marja taqlid, or source of emulation, have great influence.
The clerics normally congratulate the winners of presidential elections, but only one has done so this time. Three others have spoken out against the violent crackdown on hundreds of thousands of supporters of Mr. Moussavi, who took to the streets to dispute President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory.
At least 20 people were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, according to the police, though rights groups fear the number could be much greater.
The letter called on the clerics “to remind the relevant authorities of the damaging consequences of employing unlawful methods and warn them about the spread of tyranny in the Islamic republic system.”

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