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Reformist clerics under attack by Iran hardliners

Source: Radio Zamaneh

The conservative camp of the Iranian establishment is once more trying to tighten its grip on power by gradually discrediting or mollifying the prominent figures that had strayed away from them by demanding reform in the recent unrest. Chairman of the Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani was apparently reproached by several fellow experts at the meeting of the Assembly that took place last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Rafsanjani was present on the first day of the Assembly of Experts meeting

Fars news agency reports that Ayatollah Abbas Kaabi has informed them that from the 16 speakers of the sixth session of the assembly's fourth term, 12 had reproached the chairman for the pro-opposition stances he had taken in the outbreak of the protests following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial presidential victory in June. This news was published while the Assembly's regulations clearly state that all discussions of the Assembly must remain confidential.

Mr. Kaabi claims that the chairman tried to address these "reproaches" in his 45 minute speech but the "speeches of the following day revealed that many remained unconvinced."

The Chairman of the Assembly was absent on the second day which turned out to be the last day of the meeting with a final statement delivered by hardliner Ahmad Khatami endorsing the Supreme Leader's every action in the post-election turmoil.

Several prominent members of the Iranian establishment had condemned Ayatollah Khamenei's actions in the post-election crisis which they believe caused the death, arrest and torture of many innocent people. The Assembly of Experts was called upon by many to re-evaluate the suitability of Ayatollah Khamenei as a leader.

Despite its moderate chairman, the Assembly of Experts is still a heavily conservative government body and so far only a handful of senior clerics have spoken out against the violent government crackdown on election protesters.

In general Ayatollah Rafsanjani's failure to endorse the Supreme Leader's condemnation of the opposition forces and the Chairman's letter to the leader urging him to consider a recount of the votes was reportedly criticized in the Assembly of Experts.

Mr. Kaabi also condemned the representative of Shiraz in the Assembly, Ayatollah Dastgheib for his "disparaging, anti-establishment and illogical" comments.

Last week Ayatollah Dastgheib spoke out against the silence of the members of the Assembly of Experts in the recent turmoil. In protest to the violence against the election protesters and detainees, he called for an emergency meeting of the assembly which fell on deaf ears.

Mr. Kaabi went on to threaten Ayatollah Dastgheib that if he does not put an end to his "slanders", the assembly might consider divesting him of his membership in the assembly.

The Assembly of Experts is a government body comprised of 86 expert Shiite clerics elected by people to an eight-year term. The assembly's responsibilities include appointing, dismissing and evaluating the supreme leader. So far there has never been any discord between the assembly and the supreme leader.

... Payvand News - 09/27/09 ... --

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