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Labour NEC Winner Yasmine Dar And Pro-Iranian Rally.

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“It’s an absolute honour… honourable guests here today thank you so much for this opportunity… we’re here for a celebration, a happy time, 38 years of the Iranian Islamic revolution so I’m absolutely happy, it’s the third year that I’ve been coming… I keep it in my diary and make sure that I’m here… I feel I am absolutely proud when I hear the stories about Iran was based on diplomacy…”

From here.

The Weekly Worker states today,

Yasmine Dar is now primarily known for being one of the main speakers at an event in February 2017 in Manchester which “celebrated” the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, her hair modestly covered by a hijab.

This celebration of a far-right Islamist regime which is at present repressing protestors – our comrades –  in Iran is bad enough, but there is more.

Labour NEC vote winner condemns anti-Zionist comments by economist she shared a platform with

The Jewish Chronicle writes (17th of January 2018).

Momentum-backed Yasmine Dar condemns “reprehensible comments” made by Professor Rodney Shakespeare at pro-Iran rally.

The Labour activist elected onto the party’s governing body with the largest overall vote has condemned comments made by a notorious anti-Zionist academic who she appeared with at a rally to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the Iranian Islamic revolution.

Yasmine Dar, one of three Momentum-backed candidates to be elected on to Labour’s national executive committee, (NEC), told the JC:  “I strongly condemn the reprehensible comments made by Rodney Shakespeare, and antisemitism in all its forms.”

Ms Dar issued her response on Wednesday after the JC revealed how the Jewish Labour Movement had written to her last November asking her to explain her presence at the event in Manchester at which Professor Shakespeare, an economist spoke.

JLM claimed Prof Shakespeare had previously backed anti-Zionist conspiracy theories.

Ms Dar failed to respond to the JLM letter. But she now insists that she was unaware of Prof Shakespeare’s previous statements.

She told the JC: “I attended because I think it’s important to maintain strong links with all of our communities across Greater Manchester.

“I didn’t expect to speak, having been asked at the last minute to step in after I arrived at the event. I was entirely unaware of the identity of the other speakers.”

Ms Dar – who had stood for the Labour parliamentary nomination in the Manchester Gorton constituency last year – also emphasised her past record working with inter-faith community organisations.

She said: ”I have been long active in many interfaith and community cohesion organisations, including the Challenging Hate Forum based at Manchester Cathedral and the Nisa-Nisham Jewish-Muslim Women’s Network. I am myself a multi-faith prison chaplain. “

On Tuesday the JC revealed how the JLM letter asked Ms Dar to clarify her position on the hard-line Iranian regime, on antisemitism, and whether she regretted appearing at the same event as Prof Shakespeare.

In the past Prof Shakespeare has claimed 9/11 was a Zionist plot while discussing a United Nations report on climate change.

The Iranian regime Dar had the “honour” to celebrate.

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Pressure Grows on Labour to Defend Human Rights in Iran.

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The Clarion publishes this:

The following motion was passed unanimously at a meeting of 60 Labour Party members at Stretford and Urmston CLP in Manchester on 5 January.This CLP supports the working class and popular protests in Iran that started in the city of Mashad on 28th December 2017 and which have since spread to over 40 cities in the country.

We note that the protests:

• Directly oppose poverty and the systematic corruption of the “Islamic Republic” regime.
• Include the wide participation of working class people – men and women – many of whom are young and unemployed.
• Demand an end to the “Islamic Republic”, the end to rule by “Supreme Leader” Khamanei and “President” Rouhani and the dissolution of the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
• Demand an end to military interventions in Syria and Lebanon.
• Call for freedom for political prisoners in Iran and an end to the dictatorship.

We therefore call on the National Executive Committee and Party leadership to:

• Support the protests and the calls for workers’ rights and an end to repression and dictatorship.
• Support campaigns in solidarity with political prisoners in Iran such as the Solidarity with Middle Eastern Prisoners campaign organised by The Alliane of Middle Eastern Socialists who are calling for the release of: Reza Shahabi from the Tehran Bus Workers’ Syndicate; Narges Mohamnadi from the Centre for Defence of Human Rights in Iran; and Zeynab Jalalian, a Kurdish women’s’ activist.
• Cease any co-operation between the Party or Labour MPs with “Press TV” – the English-language arm of the clerical-fascist regime in Iran.
• Urgently investigate how best to co-operate with and support worker and popular organisations in Iran who share Labour’s commitment to socialism and freedom and build support for their activities.

Let us know what you think? theclarionmag@gmail.com

This comes as appeals for solidarity multiply.

Hamid Taqvaee: To: Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party

Dear Mr Corbyn

In solidarity with the heroic struggle of the people of Iran against one of the most despotic, brutal, anti-working class and misogynistic regimes in the world, and on behalf of the largest working-class party of the left opposition in Iran, I am writing to ask you to distance yourself immediately from the disgraceful comments made yesterday by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry. I am asking you to break your silence and to come out unreservedly on the side of the people in Iran in their heroic struggle against their oppressors.

Siding with the oppressors of the people or even staying silent or prevaricating on the rightful protests by the workers, women and the youth in Iran against the corrupt and reactionary Islamic Republic, whose leaders have amassed billions, while subjecting workers to abject poverty, smashing workers’ organisations, throwing trade unionists to jail, committing state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against women and LGBT people and executing dissidents in their tens of thousands, would be a grave political folly for the Labour Party. Once this regime is overthrown by the ongoing heroic rising of the people, the people of Iran will not forget who was on their side and who sided with their oppressors.

Your declared aims of fighting for a better world, for economic equality and for social justice won you great following among millions of people in Britain and internationally, who enthusiastically supported you in your leadership campaigns and in the 2017 general election on a progressive platform to address the widening inequality and the growing injustice in the UK.

However, these are exactly the same issues – on a far harsher and more brutal scale – that have brought millions of people onto to the streets of Iran today. The workers, women and youth in Iran are protesting against grotesque levels of inequality, lack of basic political and social freedoms and a medieval religious dictatorship that is an affront to the collective conscience of humanity in the 21st Century. People in Iran do not want the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the 1% and the billionaire clergy while they try to survive on a minimum wage that is one-fourth of the official poverty line. They do not want the vile state discrimination against women, which officially defines them as minors and the property of their male guardians; they do not want compulsory veiling and gender apartheid. They do not want the imposition of a religious state and religious thought. In one word, the people of Iran do not want the Islamic Republic. They have risen up against the Islamic Republic because they want economic equality and political and social freedoms. They want a better world and a life worthy of human beings. They are right to demand this, and should have the people of the world’s unreserved support.

Siding with such an obnoxious regime and disgracefully declaring, as Emily Thornberry has, that it is not clear who is right or wrong in this struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors will forever stay in the memory of the people of Iran. It will seriously harm the credentials of a progressive and egalitarian party that you are trying to build. It will disillusion millions of your supporters who rushed to your support precisely because they believe in equality and social justice everywhere. It will alienate your grassroots from the leadership, and mark a shameful moment in the life of your new party. It will be an irredeemable political folly and a historic moral disgrace for the Labour Party.

I hope the utterances of Emily Thornberry were an isolated case, which she will come to regret and openly apologies for. In any case, I urge you, as the Leader of the Labour Party, to distance yourself in the clearest terms from those comments and to come out unreservedly and unambiguously on the side of the people of Iran in these momentous days.

Hamid Taqvaee,

Leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.

The Morning Star meanwhile publishes this article.

THE United States slapped sanctions on five subsidiaries of Iran’s Defence Ministry yesterday as the war of words between Washington and Tehran escalated.

The sanctions are related to allegations that the subsidiaries are involved in the production of ballistic missiles used by Houthi rebels in the Yemen war, and are unconnected to the wave of protests that has swept Iran over the past week.

The US says Iran is the main sponsor of the Houthi movement, whose takeover of Yemen in 2015 prompted a murderous Saudi assault on the country in which the US and Britain have supplied weaponry used in air raids on hospitals and schools.

The sanctions came after Iranian Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri claimed the anti-government demonstrations were instigated by the CIA, with the aim of turning them into an armed insurrection against the Islamic Republic by mid-February.

At least 21 people have been killed in the protests, which broke out last Thursday over widespread poverty and unemployment, and included calls for an end to theocratic rule.

The communist Tudeh Party of Iran says some of the deaths were “false flag” killings by government agents to justify a heavier crackdown, and a source in the party told the Morning Star over 1,000 people have been arrested — around half in Tehran — for involvement in the protests.

At the same time, the government has organised major pro-regime demonstrations, “significantly slowed internet access generally” and cut access to some areas and networks completely in order to impede the spread of unrest via social media. On Thursday it announced that all unregistered mobile phones would be denied connection to the internet.

The Interior Ministry placed the total number of participants in anti-government protests at 42,000 and said the biggest single rally involved 1,500 people.

The size and duration of the protests, which it said were drawing to a close, were testimony to the “leniency, restraint and tolerance” with which the government had responded, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli.

But more protests — including some involving tens of thousands of people — were breaking out on Thursday night, according to the Tudeh Party source, though they acknowledged that the “deployment of the most brutal militiamen and thugs” to the streets to crush the protests was beginning to stifle the upsurge.

To get a grasp of the forces opposing the growing consensus of support for the protests from the left,  the US ‘Conspi’ (conspiracy) ‘left’ site, Counterpunch publishes  this,

Thoughts About Iran on Twelfth Night

The US is ravenous to destroy Iran. It’s hard to know if the CIA instigated the recent demonstrations as Iran claims but it is our usual modus operandi. UN Ambassador Haley’s bloodthirsty cries (“The people of Iran are crying out for freedom! All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause!”) certainly match, in both intensity and ignorance, those of Secretary-of-State Clinton, before we destroyed Libya seven years ago.

Our role in Iran’s impoverishment however is undeniable. As the three Wise Men swung along on their camels, discoursing on Peace (for that is what they thought the Baby was to bring) could they possibly have conceived of such malignant phantoms, in their starlit visions,  as The Plan for the New American Century and its vicious nihilism, 2000 years into the future?

Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Emily Thornberry and Labour ‘Cautious Approach” to Defending Human Rights in Iran.

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Image result for emily thornberry Iran

Thornberry, Cautious Approach to defending Human Rights when it comes to Iran. 

The shadow foreign secretary said a ‘cautious approach’ to the protests was needed because it was difficult to determine the political forces behind them

Guardian.

Thornberry told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “Our approach now is one of extreme caution when it comes to Iran and a recognition that the society in Iran is an immensely complex one, and seemingly contradictory.

“For example, with these current riots, sometimes they are calling to reinstate the monarchy, sometimes they’re calling out against the [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for the price of eggs.

“It’s very difficult, in those circumstances, to actually come to a conclusion as to what political forces are behind the current disputes on the streets of Iran. So we take a cautious approach to Iran and we don’t want to leap to judgment and say: ‘Well, we don’t like the regime in Iran, these people are against it, they must be the guys with white hats.’ Because it doesn’t work like that. We’ve seen that in Syria, we’ve seen it in Libya, we see it time and time again.”

Some have commented that Thornbury seems to think Iran should be like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the goodies in the Scooby Gang fighting the First Evil before Labour will take a stand.

Meanwhile these have no hesitation in defending human rights.

Iranian human rights defenders: “We support the protests”

A group of Iranian human rights defenders have issued a statement in support of the popular protests launched in Iran and Rojhilat and demanded an immediate unconditional release of detained protesters.

Support for the popular protests launched by the peoples of Iran and Rojhilat (Eastern Kurdistan) against poverty and the oppressive policies of the regime continues to pour in. 6 human rights defenders who live outside the country issued a joint statement and announced that they stand by the demands of the people.

Most famous human rights defenders in Iran, Muhamed Ewliyayîferd, Mehmud Rehmanî Îsfahanî, political prisoners’ rights activist Nesrîn Studa, Muhamed Seyfzade, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Şirîn Ebadi and human rights defender Ebdulkerim Lahici issued a joint statement declaring that the right to protest is the most fundamental right.

Human rights defenders stated that they support the protests launched by the peoples of Iran and concluded their statement with the following: “Citizens on the streets are not pro-violence, but the regime forces do resort to violence. Many protesters have lost their lives to date. We offer our condolences to the families of the deceased and a swift recovery for the wounded. We demand an immediate unconditional release of the detained and arrested protesters.”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 6, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Solidarity with Iranian Protests. Nine dead in overnight clashes – state media

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Nine more people have been killed overnight as clashes between protesters and security forces continue in Iran for a sixth day, state media report.

The latest violence, in the central Isfahan region, brought the number of reported deaths to at least 22.

Six protesters died in what was described as an apparent attempt to seize guns from a police station.

Elsewhere, a boy aged 11 and a man were reported killed in clashes along with a member of the Revolutionary Guards.

The protests in cities across Iran are the largest since the disputed 2009 presidential election.

They began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad, initially against price rises and corruption, but have since spread amid wider anti-government sentiment.

Hundreds of people have been arrested.

President Hassan Rouhani said protests were an “opportunity, not a threat”, but vowed to crack down on “lawbreakers”.

The US has stepped up support for the protesters’ “bold resistance”.

BBC.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 2, 2018 at 11:07 am

Posted in Anti-Fascism, European Left, Human Rights, Iran

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Iran – Islamic Regime Detains 230 for “Mixed Gender Partying”.

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An Islamic Guidance patrol arresting young Iranians for "immoral behavior". File photo.

Iran: “Islamic Guidance” Patrol Arresting Young People for “immoral behaviour”. 

A few days ago Le Monde published a long inquiry into the fate of atheists in the Islamic world.

L’athéisme, ce tabou du monde musulman

Du Maghreb au Pakistan, en passant par l’Arabie saoudite, les athées sont de plus en plus nombreux. Enquête sur cet athéisme qui dérange et effraie le monde musulman.

From social ostracism by families in the West, to repression wherever Islamist ideas have a hold on power, to murder, atheists face perscuction.

It was heartening to see that the “Ex-Muslim” movement is campaigning back.

The French daily of record gave prominence to this event,  Largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history

The International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, was held during 22-24 July 2017 in London.

Comrade Maryam Namazie’s sterling work was given a special mention.

Now we hear this, scenes from the life under Sharia law in Iran.

Islamic law does not just forbid and repress atheism but having fun and drinking in mixed company.

The BBC reports,

Iran’s moral police have arrested 230 people at two winter solstice celebration parties in Tehran.

The shortest day of the year is traditionally celebrated in Iran, where it is known as Yalda.

Col Zulfikar Barfar, head of Tehran’s moral-security force, said the partygoers had been drinking and dancing at the mixed parties.

Drinking alcohol can be punishable by 80 lashes, although in recent years perpetrators are often fined instead.

Morality police are known in Persian as Ershad, meaning guidance. They also ensure women adhere to Islamic dress code.

Police said 140 of the people were arrested in a garden in the Lavasan area, while the other 90 were attending a celebration in the northern district of Fermaniyeh,

Two singers who were performing at the events were among those detained, and some alcoholic drinks and drugs were confiscated.

Col Barfar said images from the parties had been shared on Instagram.

230 detained at 2 mixed-gender parties in Tehran

Iran Human Rights Monitor

The capital’s The Moral Security Police Chief announced the arrests of 230 young men and women on December 21, 2017 in two night parties, according to the state-run Tsensim News Agency.

The State Security Force raided what have been described as a mixed-gender party in Lavasan and Farmanieh in the northern part of the capital Tehran.

The young men and women were celebrating Yalda night, one of the most celebrated traditional events in Iran which marks the longest night of the year, that is, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness.

Iranian authorities have a history of clamping down on parties. With the SSF shutting down get-togethers and arresting those in attendance.

Such restrictions have become a regular feature of Iranian life since the 1979 Islamic revolution, as members of the morality police appear on the streets, or are deployed in vans at public places, to tackle women defying the compulsory hijab, men with non-approved hairstyles, or men and women partying together.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Posted in European Left, Iran, Islam, Islamism

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Islamist Bigotry: Saudi man gets 10 years, 2,000 lashes over atheist tweets.

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Promoting Islamic Virtue and Preventing Vice.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for expressing his atheism in hundreds of Twitter posts.

Al-Watan online daily said Saturday that religious police in charge of monitoring social networks found more than 600 tweets denying the existence of God, ridiculing Quranic verses, accusing all prophets of lies and saying their teachings fueled hostilities.

It says the 28-year-old man admitted to being an atheist and refused to repent, saying that what he wrote reflected his own beliefs and that he had the right to express them. The report did not name the man.

 The court also fined him 20,000 riyals, about $5,300.

Associated Press.

The Iranian Press TV also publishes the story:

A court in Saudi Arabia has handed down a 10-year prison sentence along with 2,000 lashes to a man, accused of posting atheistic and irreligious tweets.

The unidentified 28-year-old, who allegedly admitted to be an atheist in the court hearing, was fined 20,000 riyals, about $5,300, along with corporal punishment and jail term, Al-Watan online daily reported on Saturday.

The Saudi religious police said that they have found more than 600 tweets on the convict’s account about denying the existance of God, ridiculing religious beliefs, and disrespecting prophets.

The man has reportedly refused to repent, saying he had expressed what he believed.

The Saudi Arabia’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPVPV), or religious police, is a government agency tasked with enforcing Islamic law as defined in the Arab Kingdom. It is also responsible for monitoring social networks.

This is another recent story on Press TV:

Iran has increased the bounty on the apostate writer Salman Rushdie’s head by $500,000 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), a religious authority announced.

Caretaker of 15th of Khordad Foundation, Ayatollah Sheikh Hassan Sane’ei made the remarks in a statement issued on Saturday following worldwide protests against the production of a sacrilegious movie in the US, which insults Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), ISNA reported.He added that the bounty, which was announced by late Imam Khomeini on the writer’s head, is now increased by $500,000 to $3,300,000.

The blasphemous movie sparked protests in Iran, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and in European countries including Britain, where demonstrators set ablaze the effigies of President Barack Obama and the US flags.

The British Indian novelist and writer was sentenced to death by Imam Khomeini for insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, which was written in 1988 and sparked global protests by Muslims around the world.

Imam Khomeini issued a fatwa (religious edict) on 14 February 1989 calling for his death.

The caretaker of 15th of Khordad Foundation also said that these insulting acts against the Islamic sanctities would not be halted until the late Imam’s decree on apostate Salman Rushdie is carried out.

“The late Leader (of the Islamic Revolution) sought to root out these blasphemous plots hatched by the agents of the US and Zionist regime through announcing bounties, and now it’s the best time for fulfilling this job”, the statement added.

Ayatollah Sane’ei said his foundation supports those people who actively fight against these anti-Islamic plots and conspiracies.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2016 at 11:44 am

Iranian Elections: Theocracy, not Democracy.

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Iranian Theocracy: Islamism is Incompatible with Democracy.

As ‘elections’ in Iran approach (February the 26th) it’s well to take stock.

Not so long ago, well in 2010, Labour Candidate for Chippenham (2015), Andy Newman argued (Socialist Unity),

Iran simply is a constitutional democracy. I refer Dave to the discussion of the 1979 constitution in Ervand Abrahamian’s book “A History of Modern Iran” Cambridge, 2008. pages 162 to 169. Abrahamian is no apologist for the government, and his book is dedicated to the “memory of more than three hundred political prisoners hanged in 1988 for refusing to feign belief in supernatural”. Abrahamian discusses how the constitution tempers the power of the Guardian Council.

The electorate, all women and men over 16 years old, can vote for the president, as well as for members of the the Majlis (parliament), and provincial and district councils. The Majlis has authority to pass laws, scrutinise the activity of the executive, approve or veto the president’s choices of ministers, debate any issue, and appoint people to the Guardian Council. Indeed over the last 30 years the majlis has acted as a much more substantive parliamentary body in holding the executive to account than the Palace of Westminster has.

The maturity of the democracy is shown in the way that two loose political parties, the Radicals and Conservatives have developed, that government initiatives are often modified or defeated by the Majlis, and that contested transitions of power have been effected by means of democratic vote.

The paradox that this democratic infrastructure exists alongside the concept of “jurists’ guardianship”velayet-e faqeh derived from the revolutionary Islamic theory of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini explains a lot about modern Iran. The Islamic revolution was not per se a religious one, but one that combined a complex mixture of nationalism, political populism and religious radicalism.

This ‘paradox‘ is getting a parading just now.

The grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic, will not be allowed to stand in this month’s election in Iran, the clerical vetting body said on Wednesday, in a blow to reformist forces in the country.

Hassan Khomeini, 43, the first member of the Khomeini family to register for polls and an ally of President Hassan Rouhani, lost an appeal to the body against a ban. The setback comes at a time of growing rivalry between reformists and conservatives stirred by a deal with world powers that lifted economic sanctions against Tehran as part of a nuclear agreement.

Hardliners fear Iranian voters will now be more inclined to reward reformist and moderate candidates in Feb. 26 elections to the 290-seat parliament and the 88-seat Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for choosing the next Supreme Leader.

The Guardian Council, a clerical vetting body responsible for overseeing all elections, excluded thousands of parliamentary hopefuls and hundreds of candidates for the Assembly of Experts, leaving a field mostly of conservatives.

Reuters.

You will find scant reference to the details of this “Vetting” in the house journal of the anti-imperialism of fools, Coutnerpunch. They are more concerned, as, criticising US imperialism first obliges, in the Washington Tehran nuclear deal.

Franklin Lamb for example concentrates on this,

Notes from Tehran. February the 12th.

Many relatively moderate candidates were rejected by hard-liners during the vetting phase. Several of these blocked candidates support President Hassan Rouhani, a key architect of the Iran nuclear deal that they support.

And,

So-called moderate supporters of Iran’s President Rohani may have a major impact on this month’s elections and bring changes to Iran. The Iranian public is sophisticated about what JCPOA is likely to mean for them. Recent polls show that there has been an approximately ten percent drop in public support for the agreement.

It is left to Jane Green in the Morning Star to expose the nature of this ‘Islamic Democracy’.

…the coming elections in Iran are little more than the veneer of democracy, as the ability to stand is tightly controlled by the Guardian Council and the Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei.

Elections to the Majlis (parliament) are held every four years and prominent figures hoping to appear on the ballot paper need to determine beforehand whether Khamenei and his inner circle of advisers will oppose their candidacy.

It is said that the Supreme Leader does not explicitly advise anyone against running, but his office or other high-ranking officials will often reveal his views on specific cases.

Also, when candidates register their names, the Guardian Council has to qualify them based on several criteria, notably their full “practical” loyalty to the Supreme Leader and their recognition of his authority over all matters of the state.

Finally, once elections are complete, the Guardian Council is solely responsible for endorsing the final result, despite sharing supervision over the vote counting process with the Interior Ministry.

Through these methods the Islamic Republic can claim that the elections are free and fair because everyone is eligible to vote.

While attempting to control the outcome of the elections, the regime’s leaders are keen for a massive turnout for the contest in four weeks’ time and have mobilised their entire publicity machine.

The turnout in this election has assumed significance since it will be used as a measure of the popularity of the regime and a test of its political stability.

However this disguises the high degree of manipulation which precedes the selection of those who appear on the ballot paper at all.

Given the conservative nature of the regime in Iran and the fears of many hardliners that Rouhani is “too reformist,” there is every chance that conservatives will take the opportunity to further squeeze out the limited voices for change which there may be in the Majlis.

Of 3,000 candidates put forward by reformists, only 30 have been allowed to stand by the Guardian Council, a mere one in 100 of those wishing to stand.

It is worth remembering that these are candidates who are deemed “reformist” within the very narrow confines of that term in Iranian politics.

There are no candidates opposed to the regime, standing for the rights of women or actively promoting the right of Iranian workers to engage in free and open trade union activity.

Persistent reports in Iranian opposition media indicate that the powerful Sepah Pasdaran (the Guards Corps) are confident that at least 180 out of the 290 seats of the new Majlis will be filled with their candidates, carefully selected from within the ranks of their commanders and ideologists.

In total 40 per cent of the 12,000 hopefuls for parliamentary election, including a significant number of MPs in the outgoing Majlis, have failed to qualify.

Those disqualified include Ali Motahari, a persistent critic of the hard-line Islamists in the regime, and Rasoul Montajabnia, the vice-president of the pro-reform Etemad Melli Party founded by Mehdi Karoubi, one of the two reformist candidates during the 2009 presidential candidates.

Others excluded are Majid Farahani, the head of the pro-reform Nedaye Iranian Party, and Akbar Alami, a former reformist member of parliament.

Sadegh Zibakalam, professor of political science at Tehran University, stated that the reformists now expected the president to step forward.

“According to the constitution, as the president and the country’s second power [after the leader] Mr Rouhani should supervise the implementation of the constitution. So now everyone’s expecting him to protest against the wide disqualifications.”

Jamshid Ahmadi, assistant general secretary of solidarity group Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (Codir), has called into question the legitimacy of the elections.

“It is clear that many potential candidates have been excluded due to their political opinions,” he said.

“That hardly makes for an electoral process that can, in any normal sense, be described as free and fair.

“Until real opposition candidates are allowed to stand and the Iranian regime cleans up its act on human rights the elections will be little more than the illusion of democracy.”

Islamist Theocracy is incompatible with democracy. 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 13, 2016 at 4:23 pm