Tuesday, February 12, 2008

High-Ranking Clerics Criticize Disqualifications ‎

While Ahmad Jannati, head of the powerful Guardian Council, insists that the upcoming ‎parliamentary elections are "fully competitive," a number of high-ranking clerics have protested ‎the Council's decision to bar thousands of reformist and independent candidates from running. ‎Ayatollahs Montazeri, Makarem Shirazi, Ebrahim Amini, Noormofidi, Haeri Shirazi, and Bayat ‎Zanjani have all released statements condemning the scope of disqualifications. Ayatollahs ‎Montazeri and Makarem Shirazi are among the handful of living Shi'ite grand ayatollahs. ‎
Ayatollah Montazeri told an Italian publication, "You can speak of freedom, particularly in ‎elections, only when conditions are such that all groups and especially the elite and professionals ‎are able to enter the scene, not when only people affiliated with a certain school of thought are ‎allowed to participate. Elections mean that people will be the electors, not the Guardian Council ‎or a special group; otherwise, these are called selections, not elections!"‎
In addition to Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi is another grand ayatollah who ‎has criticized the scope of disqualifications. Though Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi sympathizes ‎with conservatives and was opposed to the reform movements, he protested the "disqualification ‎of many candidates," noting, "In some cases, fairness has not been observed, and even some of ‎the supreme leader's candidates have been disqualified… We hope that, in the remaining time, ‎reasonable objections are taken into account and that those who support and are loyal to the ‎regime would receive friendly vindication." ‎

Ayatollah Noormofidi, Gorgan's Friday prayer leader, told followers in a meeting, "What has ‎brought up many questions for concerned people from all walks of life these days is the issue of ‎widespread disqualifications. Some of the people that were disqualified are fully known by the ‎supreme leader, and I am certain that he would not have approved the decision to disqualify ‎them." ‎
Ebrahim Amini, the conservative Friday prayer leader of Ghom, called for the observance of ‎‎"Islamic ethics" and "laws" in examining candidates' qualification, adding, "Bigotry and close-‎mindedness cost us and undermine the reputation of the Islamic nation." ‎

Meanwhile, the conservative Friday prayer leader of Shiraz, Haeri Shirazi, condemned the ‎barring of reformist and independent candidates and announced his intention to resign with the ‎supreme leader's approval. ‎

Finally, Ayatollah Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, a high-ranking cleric in Ghom who sympathizes ‎with reformists, sent an open letter to Rafsanjani, Karoubi and former president Khatami ‎warning them that the Islamic Republic will be in danger of disintegration if they back down ‎from their demand to hold competitive elections. ‎

Though several high-ranking ayatollahs have criticized the government's handling of the ‎qualification process, the spokesperson for the Guardian Council denied reports that clerics have ‎began protesting the Council's decisions. The Council's spokesperson, Abas Ali Kadkhodaei, ‎told reporters, "I have not heard any criticism. Some have called for more precision, which we ‎accept and will certainly take into account, and if anyone's rights have been undermined, we will ‎work to restore those rights." ‎

No comments: