Those Who Yelled ‘No, No’ Should Have Been Confronted
What follows is the transcript of the exchanges that took place at a meeting between Majlis leaders and Iran’s supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei after the Majlis rejected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nominated minister of sports. During the Majlis session when the president was introducing his nominated minister, representatives interrupted the president’s speech with cries of “No” and eventually did not give him a vote of confidence, thus rejecting him.
Supreme Leader ayatollah Khamenei
I intended to hold this meeting first thing in the morning, but this did not happen. The incident at yesterday’s Majlis session has deeply disturbed me and has raised a serious concern. At times some events require one to seek help from God. My unhappiness is because of the disrespect that was provided to the president. You disrespected the president. You have the right to point out things to him, question him, and even censure him but you cannot insult anyone, particularly the president. The presidency is a respectable office in the constitution. Look at the record, presidents have always had opponents in the Majlis; but when were they insulted in such a manner? This insulting behavior was cruel, unjust and a sin. My concern is about the Majlis. I was really concerned about the Majlis itself. What kind of a situation is this in which the Majlis, a forum that is presented as the representative of the virtues of people, engages in cries of ‘no, no’, and prevents someone from expressing his view? I have repeatedly told Mr. Larijani to prevent such behavior. Why is there such disrespectful ‘no ‘no’ calling? The only thing they have not done is start a physical fight and jump all over each other, like they do in some countries. I got really concerned; what shall we do? I will expressly say that what the Majlis did was repressive and against justice. It was caught in meanness. This is when people become disheartened and refrain from participating in elections. Imagine what would happen if the Majlis moves in the direction where nobody can speak his mind, whether that person is the president or anybody else?
This was a very bad incident. You must remedy this. I have a complaint against Mr. Larijani and the Majlis deputies. When the Majlis representatives yelled ‘no, no’ in the in the middle of the president’s speech yesterday, Mr. Larijani should have stopped the president’s talk and attacked the minority individuals who yelled out in the middle of the speech. They are disgracing the Majlis in the public image. Those who yelled ‘no’ are a small minority. You should have attacked them and read their names to the public. Mr. Larijani should have attacked them. I am not complaining why you did or did not vote; that is your duty to undertake. I am seriously concerned about this. There are two ways to confront an official: representatives have the legal authority to express their views, logically and without any insults or commotion. If you are critical of the administration or the president you can say so. Say what is on your mind and engage constructively. The other way is to be antagonistic and confrontational. In this case it is clear that they want to hurt. The complaint against Mr. Salehi was that he should not have appointed a particular person as his deputy. You have the right to censure. I have no problem with a censure. Even though the censure of the foreign minister was generally detrimental under the current conditions, particularly as it was close to the anti-terrorism conference that was about to take place. But still, I decided not to intervene. I do not view the censure as an issue: this is a case where the Majlis had a complaint and wanted to demonstrate it in practice. The problem was the deputy. There was no need to continue the issue after it was resolved and the deputy had resigned. I believe Mr. Tavakoli to be pious and a revolutionary for more than thirty years. Why did you write a full page complaint that this [the resignation] was not sufficient and that [the minister] had to be removed? This behavior is of the second type. Would you be happy if God treated you this way? If the Majlis asks the (the Majlis) Research Center to look into your records, do you believe that you have no faults? Mr. Salehi is an honorable man. He was not ready to be censured. He would prefer to leave and not return. The other person withdrew so there was no need to continue this. You should have stopped pursuing it. I disapprove such behavior. This is not at par with your dignity and this is my serious complaint. This is not at par with your position. Stop this negative shouting, this hooliganism in the Majlis. It is a shame for the Majlis to turn into a place where such actions take place. I do not approve of it. One can use even harsher language than this for the Majlis, [an institution] which is so respectful. One can reject a person’s view point, and even if one says it irrationally it should not matter. People understand when something is irrational, so a person has to be allowed to speak his mind. It is not right for the Majlis to yell ‘no’. This is not acceptable to me. I seriously expect from Mr. Larijani and his deputies and the leadership to tell the representatives to identify those who did this and inform the Majlis leader. Then name these individuals to the public. This is what I had to say.
Parliament speaker Ali Larijani (left) and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
I thank you for summoning us and for presenting these statements. I fully accept your remarks and agree that we must stop this. Representatives will follow when they learn of your feeling. There have been numerous times when your views have been accepted, even when you did not order them. I am not trying to exaggerate Majlis’ compliance. An example of this is the vote of confidence for the ministers when the Majlis proceeded [with your wishes] even though you had not issued an order on this. On Tuesday, I felt that the situation in the Majlis was not normal. I particularly displayed respect for Mr. Ahmadinejad and stood up for him on two occasions. I stood up out of respect for him two times and I stopped the yells of ‘no’, but television cameras focused on this and exaggerated the issue.
You should tell this to Mr. Zarghami. The television station’s act was sinful, both legally and religiously.
I view this as a resolvable issue. You are aware of all the complaints and I want to mention the roots of this behavior in the Majlis, even though this is a shameful act. There are times when representatives do not fully participate in the voting. Why? Because their minds are somewhere else. They come from all over the country and see wide disregard for the law and become disheartened. We used to have a special law that banned the import of agricultural goods. This was also emphasized in the Fifth Development Plan. But in reality however, this is not implemented. We summoned the minister of agriculture and told him that we had passed a law on this, put it in the Fifth Plan, and that even your excellency had approved of this, but imports still continued. So we asked him why they did and this is what he said: ‘I am under pressure. You exert pressure on the president.” Regarding the subsidies, on your recommendations we completely relegated this task to the administration but it does not follow it. Another reason for this type of behavior is the political climate in the country. The members of the Majlis used to be with Ahmadinejad and the opponents were a minority. The majority worked in his favor but after a while they felt that they had made a mistake. When they see these conditions and Mr. Ahmadinejad’s behavior, they feel disillusioned. Majlis representatives are in contact with Hizbullahis and are affected by them. This Majlis is a symbol of people’s feelings.
I know these things. These do not add to anything I know. When I say I know I do not mean that I approve of all of these things. I approve of some of them and I do not approve others. You want to say that the Majlis is not in line with the president. In that case they should not vote (in his favor). They should not accept his view point. But they have no right to insult him and beat him up. Such remarks should be made in the president’s presence. I will pass judgment when I hear both sides. This is the fundamental issue. My point is that there should be no hooliganism in the Majlis and that everybody should be able to speak their mind is a different issue.
Prior to your presence at this meeting Dr. Kazem Jalali had asked what was the issue. Why had we been summoned. I hope there will be no complaints. I asked him whether he expected the father to be only soft on his son. A father also roars. I have not done this and have tried to prevent a censure because I had issued two written notices and told him in a friendly manner, which was effective. One of my remarks to him was in line with yours, not with the president’s. In one instance and another I had thanked him for his right posture in support of Islam versus the Iranian school of thought. This time too, when I heard about the appointment of Malekzadeh, I told him through a call that this was not a prudent decision. He responded by saying that he had heard this from others too but that he had not seen any evidence against him. I told him to go to ayatollah Larijani for the proof, go to Moslehi and ask for evidence. He accepted to contact Moslehi. I told him that if he did not retract the appointment, I myself would gather signatures for his censure the next day. On Monday too I spoke for ten minutes with him and told him that a censure was not in his favor or that of the ministry of foreign affairs or for the country. I told him that since Moslehi had written that Malekzadeh was not qualified for the post, he should remove him. But he asked for my patience. On Tuesday morning a group of signatories gathered and I summed up the discussions. I said that there should be no censure (of the president) but that since things had come this far, we should set up a meeting to talk with Moslehi and get his moral pledge to not support the deviant course, after which we would retract the call for the censure. This was the view of the majority of those at the meeting. There was only one person who thought otherwise. We had also stressed that the issue had to be resolved that very day. When we arrived at the Majlis a disagreement came up between me and [representative] Abutorabi. I thought that if Ahmadinejad did not allow Salehi to come to the meeting the fight would resume. Therefore, it was better to retract the call for the presidential censure prior to the meeting with Salehi. So we got signatures to retract the call to censure the president from those who had originally called for it.
But you conditioned that.
No, there was no condition. We tried hard to prevent a censure.
I am ashamed to see you in this situation. I hope God forgives us. Fortunately the leader pays attention to details, we are morally hurt and ask for forgiveness and pray on the basis of our religious relationship. Also, we have your political experience. Your unhappiness and concern is a source for our shame. Inshallah, we shall make up for this. Society should not be made anxious. The conflict should not be reported publicly as people will feel despair and the enemy will welcome this. Today, the country needs calm.
That is correct.
The enemy engages in plots and we must act contrary to its desires. We view ourselves to be the addressees of your comments. I hope that our friends make plans and compensate for this.
Our message is exactly what you said. I have told Mr. Larijani that when he sees something that is wrong, something that is contrary to prudence, he must act in a way that a larger issue is not developed. On the surface it may appear that I am just sitting on the sidelines. But I am in contact with people. People do not like officials to have differences among themselves.
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