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Khomeini's Grandson Vows To Challenge Decision to Bar Him From Election

Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of late Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, arrives to registers his candidacy at the Interior Ministry during the registration for the elections to the Assembly of Experts in Tehran on December 18.

A grandson of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the cleric who led Iran's 1979 revolution and founded the Islamic republic, says he will challenge a decision to bar him from running in the February election for the Assembly of Experts even though it could be fruitless.

Hassan Khomeini, 43, was quoted on January 29 as saying that he will appeal "at the request of the public and some senior religious and political figures," while adding that the move was unlikely to "open a new path."

Khomeini, a mid-ranking moderate cleric with ties to the reformist faction of the Iranian establishment, made the comments a few days after his son confirmed on Instagram an earlier media report that the Guardians Council had not approved him to run in the February 26 vote.

The powerful hard-line conservative body is in charge of vetting all election candidates in Iran, which Khomeini's grandfather ruled over as supreme leader from the revolution that ended the secular Pahlavi monarchy until his death in 1989.

The Guardians Council has reportedly approved only 166 out of some 800 candidates hoping to run for the Assembly of Experts, including Iranian President Hassan Rohani and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The Assembly, which is in theory in charge of overseeing the work of Iran's supreme leader, could determine the successor to current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is 76.

"It's a surprise to me and to many others that some of the respectable gentlemen jurists in the Guardians Council couldn't establish I am qualified," Khomeini said in comments published by Iranian news sites.

He added that he was barred from running despite the fact that his application included the testimony of senior clerics and others to his religious qualifications and "hours of tapes of his lectures" and "several books" he has authored.

"If the gentlemen couldn't establish I am qualified through the testimonies of grand ayatollahs, and my lectures and writings, then it's unlikely they will do so in the future," Khomeini said.

He said he had decided to run "as a duty and concern over the future of the revolution and the Islamic establishment."

Khomeini also said that despite "rumors," he had not been invited to take a qualifying test or be interviewed by the Guardians Council.

Hard-line conservatives have in past years made attempts at tarnishing Khomeini, who is said to be close to former President Mohammad Khatami. A reformist, Khatami has fallen out of favor of the Iranian establishment over his support for the Green opposition movement and its leaders, who are under house arrest.

Khomeini has also been attacked over his ties with former President Rafsanjani.

Khomeini's disqualification could be part of attempts by Iranian hard-line conservatives to tighten their grip on domestic politics following a July deal with global powers that placed restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The deal has created hope among the hard-liners' opponents that their power and authority could be diminished in the long run.

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is managing editor of RFE/RL's Radio Farda, which breaks through government censorship to deliver accurate news and provide a platform for informed discussion and debate to audiences in Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is one of the authors of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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