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Iran’s elections and a challenge named Hassan Khomeini

It’s clear that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will do his best to influence the election to be sure that his successor will continue his footsteps

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Published: Updated:

While recent tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia is still considered a major topic in Iran, domestic news of two upcoming elections are also making headlines.

Elections to nominate the next parliament and Iran’s Assembly of Experts (a clerical body that monitors the supreme leader’s performance and chooses his successor), are both scheduled on February 26.

What it makes these elections significant is the age of the current supreme leader, who is 76 years old, and rumors have been circulating about his health and the role this next Experts Assembly can play in choosing the next leader.

In a similar way, the new parliament can also play a supportive role towards the Assembly of Experts as well as influencing the next presidential election.

It’s clear that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will do his best to influence the election to be sure that his successor will continue his footsteps. But the legitimacy of this election and the next supreme leader is also dependent on the people and their participation in the election.

It’s clear that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will do his best to influence the election to be sure that his successor will continue his footsteps

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

To prevent any major changes in this ultra-conservative clerical body, the Council of Guardians plays a crucial role in monitoring the candidates at the qualification process and filtering reformers.

Thirty years ago, whenever the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhalah Khomeini, spoke to his supporters, most of the time his favorite grandson, a fair little boy, was standing behind him.

Hassan Khomeini

Today this boy is a grown 43-year-old man called Hassan Khomeini. He stepped out of the Khomeini household two weeks ago to nominate himself to run in the Assembly of Experts’ election.

Counting on his grandfather’s name as an asset and his popularity, by having links to the reformist body of the system, he took a chance. However, there are now some reports that he has withdrawn from the race.

Today, Iran is missing a charismatic political leader such as the deceased Khomeini or former President Mohammad Khatami to mobilize the nation.

Amid the confusion over his candidacy, Hassan Khomeini has been confronted with challenges from the Council of Guardians to legally prevent him entering the race. They have called for all registered nominees to be tested on their knowledge in Islamic theology.

Hassan Khomeni, who has been called an “Ayatollah” by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and some other permanent clerics, has been teaching Dars-e-Kharij (the highest level of Islamic jurisprudence at the Qom seminary).

When he registered, he told journalists: “My candidacy is with the aim of pursuing what Imam Khomeini said about defending until death the foundations of the Islamic Republic.”

Also, he says he has never received an invitation for the exam that Council of Guardians claims to have sent him.

Meanwhile, the supreme leader has called on the nation to widely participate in the elections, saying: “Even if you don’t accept the system, for the sake of the nation, participate in the elections.”

Khamenei also said participating in elections would ward off foreign threats from “enemy frontiers” wishing to rout out the concept of the Iranian revolution. With this conspiracy that the supreme leader appears to believe in so greatly, Hassan Khomeini’s presence in the election can mobilize the voting crowds that Ayatollah Khamenei is looking for.

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Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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