With just a week left for Iran’s eleventh presidential election, the president’s chief of staff whose bid for the presidency was rejected by the Guardian Council appears to be awaiting an overruling of the disqualification by the country’s supreme leader. But what remains unclear is on what grounds was Mashai disqualified. Two-time former president Hashemi Rafsanjani was also disqualified as a candidate but in his case his age and health were cited by officials to be the reason.
Esfandiar Rahim Mashai
Rooz spoke with Ali Asghar Hosseini, Mashai’s attorney and asked him. He said, “The decision of the GC was the result of pressure created by the media and some individuals who have animosity with the administration. There are no reasons or documents indicating that he is not committed to Islam, to the velayate faghih (the principle of the rule of clerics), or the constitution. Had there been any, they would have been used against him or a law suit would have existed in this. All judgments against him are based on rumors and slander.” He added, “We ask the GC to publicly present any evidence it has regarding these issues.” On another subject, Hosseini said the lawsuit his client had filed against the mayor of Tehran, who is also another presidential contender, has been ignored.
Here are the excerpts of Rooz’s interview with Hosseini.
Rooz: What are the reasons for the disqualification of Mr. Mashai by the Guardian Council? Is there any supporting evidence for the decision?
Ali Asghar Hosseini: I have plenty to say about this but perhaps there isn’t much to complain about the Guardian Council. The main wrongdoer here is in the law. We have legal issues about the approval or disapproval of presidential candidates, or the absence of laws in this regard. There are laws that leave the hands of the GC free to act as it wishes. We should move in the direction of objectivity so that the GC can act like a court of law where evidence for its decisions or views are presented. The GC of course says that it only verifies the qualifications and does not reject them, which are merely play on words. Right now the GC can simply say it does not believe a person has the qualifications and reject him without any accountability or without providing any evidence or documentation. Not only the GC but no position or institution should have the right to make decisions about people so easily without being accountable.
Rooz: From what you are saying it appears that you were disqualified because (of GC’s belief that) you lacked commitment to Islam.
Hosseini: We have a principle in Islamic teachings that a person’s committeemen to Islam is not something that others can pass judgment on. Our laws in this regard have to be changed. We need evidence and reasons for such a judgment. For example if Mr. Mashai is deemed not to be committed to Islam, then they must show evidence and actions that confirm this.
Rooz: Mr. Mashai has protested this decision but the GC makes only one decision and the law does not provide a forum that can look into a protest. At the same time he has asked the supreme leader to intervene. Has the supreme leader provide a response to this request?
Hosseini: I do not know. But the legal argument is that the GC has made its decision which is final and has to be implemented. There is precedence when the supreme leader had overturned a GC judgment regarding a previous candidate in an election, in the case of Mr. Moin.
Rooz: Also Mr. Mehr Alizadeh.
Hosseini: Yes. In any case I believe that what was decided over Mr. Mashai at the GC was the result of pressure caused by rumors, the media and certain individuals.
Rooz: What about the charges of belonging to the deviant current? Could this be the reason for his disqualification?
Hosseini: We too have asked this question. But this has been a generality too and nobody has come out and said that this or that act or behavior constitutes a deviation from the course of the revolution. He has also been accused of heavier charges such as having contacts with the Mojahedin Khalq group. We filed a lawsuit against some who had made charges against Mr. Mashai and the defendant had nothing to show in the court, except saying that he had simply heard these things.
Rooz: Are you referring to Mr. Golpour?
Hosseini: Yes. The court asked him to produce documents to support his claims and he had nothing. He received a judgment for spreading lies. But his words and remarks have been used to pass negative judgment on Mr. Mashai.
Rooz: What has happened to your complaints?
Hosseini: Some have been decided on while others ignored. For example, my client filed a suit against a person who is also a presidential candidate now and holds a political position in Tehran. He spread lies and insults about Mr. Mashai and Mr. Rahimi. We filed a law suit but nothing has been done about it till now.
Rooz: Are you talking about Mr. Ghalibaf?
Hosseini: Yes, this suit was filed in 2009. The charges are insulting remarks. We have a voice recording on this which is the evidence. But it is four years now and nothing has happened on this.
Rooz: So there are no lawsuits against Mr. Mashai in the court system? The spokesperson of Article 90 of the Majlis had said that there were lawsuits against Mr. Mashai.
Hosseini: In all the lawsuits regarding Mr. Mashai, he is the complainant not the defendant.
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