Thursday, July 13, 2006

Right-wing Khobregan Candidates Emerge

Meysame Tavab, Rooz Online:
The traditional right-wing groups in Iran, such as the Modarresin Hoze Elmie Qom (Qom Theological Center Teachers) and Jame-e Rohaniyat Mobarez Tehran are finalizing their list of candidates for the critical forthcoming Majlis Khobregan (Leadership Experts Assembly) elections in Iran.

According to a Rooz reporter in Iran, at the moment ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi - the intellectual leader of the extremists - and his students are not on the list compiled by Jame Modarresin and Jame Rohaniyat (i.e. right-wing cleric’s organization). READ MORE

The names that are on the list as candidates to the council are Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, Ali Akbar Meshkini, Ahmad Jannati, Mohammad Yazdi, Mohammad Emami Kashani, Reza Ostadi, Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani, Hossein Rasti Kashani, Ali-reza Rezvani, Seyed Mohsen Kharazi, Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri, Ghorbanali Dori Najafabadi, and Mohsen Ghomi.

The exclusion of extremist Yazdi seems to be in response to the broad attacks on other clerics by supporters of ayatollah Yazdi. Specifically, the physical disruption of a gathering in Qom organized by Hashemi Rafsanjani which was carried out by Yazdi loyalists last month. That event brought forth a strong condemnation of the attack and judges have even handed punishment verdicts against some of those responsible for the attacks.

Differences between traditional right-wing clerics and the extremists surfaced out into the open during last year’s presidential elections. In one specific incident that is viewed as a landmark, students supporting ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi attacked another cleric, ayatollah Javadi Amoli because the latter did not support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the presidency. Soon after the elections, traditional conservatists who feared that they would be set aside if Ahmadinejad won the presidency, Mesbah Yazdi said at a meeting with the new president that the Islamic regime had not been Islamic enough during the last 16 years, which included the presidencies of Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami. Obviously this brought back a wide and harsh response from the supporters of Rafsanjani.

As the Majlis Khobregan (Leadership Experts Assembly) elections approached, cleric supporters of Yazdi openly spoke of their goal of preventing Rafsanjani from running for the assembly. In a public speech at a seminar held at Imam Khomeini Education Center, a supporter of ayatollah Yazdi listed the qualifications for participating in the Khobregan elections and in them he specifically said “absence of support for Hashemi Rafsanjani’ was one.

Prior to these events, Rafsanjani himself had gone to Qom to sound the dangers of extremism and their supporters. He met with leading clerics and warned that extremist right groups were planning to take over political power in the country. Political events in the country have taken a direction in which clerics with years of political activism and participation in the country began to sound alarms regarding the growing power and influence of Mesbah Yazdi’s group.