July 14, 2009

State media downplays, attacks Rafsanjani before sermon

After a long absence, Hashemi Rafsanjani is going to lead the upcoming Friday sermon. Rafsanjani is a very powerful member of the Iranian establishment who was a major supporter of Mir-Hossein Mousavi and opponent of Ahmadinejad before the election. However, state media, including  IRNA, Raja, and Iran newspaper are portraying this as an insignificant event and are even making arguments that he be striped of at least one of his government positions.
Raja news, which belongs to hardliner Fatemeh Rajabi (the wife of the government spokesperson), claims that the reformist movement is “worried about the prayer attendees protesting against Hashemi Rafsanjani.” “Because of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s positions during the presidential elections and his inappropriate letter to the Supreme Leader, a widespread wave of criticism has formed against him among the people…,” says  the report.
Also, the state run media appear to be trying to lay the groundwork for removing of Rafsanjani from at least one of his government posts.  Raja, Iran newspaper, and IRNA have all published articles in support of article 141 of Iran’s constitution being applied to the Expediency Council. Article 141 of the constitution forbids government employees from holding “more than one Government position [or] any kind of additional post in institutions of which all or a part of the capital belongs to the government or public institutions, or [being] a member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly.” Currently, article 141 does not apply to the Expediency Council, which is headed by Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani is also head of the powerful Assembly of Experts, which is officially tasked with supervising and selecting the supreme leader.
While looking to use and expand this constitutional provision, there are extensive reports of Iranian hardliners  violating other constitutional protections, such as Articles 27 (freedom of assembly), 35 (right to legal counsel), 38 (ban on torture), and 168 (the right to jury trial in an open court).

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