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IRAN: Rafsanjani still in the fight, the powerful cleric and his daughter say

March 3, 2010 |  7:30 am


Two important messages emerged Wednesday about the political standing of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Iranian power-broker whose support Iran's opposition movement had counted on to continue its struggle against the hard-line establishment.

Rafsanjani, in a statement posted to his Persian-language website, insisted that the Islamic Republic remained in the grip of danger, likening the ongoing discord over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iran's early 20th century constitutional revolution, a years-long period of instability.

"The Constitutional Revolution may repeat itself and this is a real threat," he said in remarks he made during a meeting with clergy. "The odds are that certain people are conspiring against the Islamic Republic in the name of supporting Islam, revolution and the system."

Faezeh Hashemi, Rafsanjani's outspoken daughter, dismissed speculation that her father had watered down his views as part of some back-room compromise to sell out Iran's self-described Green movement.

"Under the present circumstances, any compromise is out of the question without taking into account people's rights and the damage inflicted on them," she told the Persian-language news website in an interview. "I ask everyone to be patient and let Mr Rafsanjani go ahead with his own method. Since the Green Movement and Mr. Rafsanani share their demands, he could be a member of the Green Movement of the Iranian people."

Rafsanjani''s loyalties came under question last week when a committee he headed issued a statement describing the the post-election unrest as "sedition," apparently adopting of the terminology used by hard-liners close to Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

But Rafsanjani said only it's only Khamenei who is powerful enough to pull the country out of its current troubles. "Without his intervention and in the absence of enough backing from all individuals and groups, we cannot be hopeful of any conclusion" to the current crisis, he said.

But intervention means more than just urging Iranians to stand together, he said.  

"Unity could not be achieved in the country with words," he said. "Unity requires tools and instruments to put strategies into action. We have to convince the young generation and provide reasonable response to their questions. Any other approach is doomed to failure."

Rafsanjani's daughter, Hashemi, insisted that the country's hard-line leaders, and not her father, were the source of the problem. She said that authorities remain in denial about the crisis afflicting the Islamic Republic since the disputed reelection of Ahmadinejad last year.

"Mr. Rafsanjani has already offered solutions to lead the country out of crisis," she said. "But before any step, the crisis has to be recognized. In words, [the authorities] refuse to recognize the crisis, but their deeds indicate a deepening crisis in the society."

Instead of responding rationally to people's demands, the authorities continue to accuse the movement of being connected to foreigners. 

"They keep saying the protesters are anti-Islamic, seeking to overthrow the regime and led by Israel and U.S.," she said. "But they know well that this movement is neither led by foreigners nor an opposition. It is a popular and self-motivated movement that cannot tolerate large-scale deviation from the law and denial of its rights."

She also acknowledged that the protest movement had evolved since the elections. 

"Protesters called into question the election outcome, but wrong policies and treatments changed the nature of protests," she said, adding, "The main issue is still the election."

Hashemi also described an encounter, captured on video footage (below) last month in which plainclothes security officials confronted her as she was leaving a university and began rummaging through her personal belongings and demanding she answer their questions.

The security officials harassed her, she said, because "they imagined they could reach their objectives by sparking fear and panic."

She added, "They failed."

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: Faezeh Hashemi. Credit:

Video: Faezeh Hashemi confronted by plainclothes security officials. Credit: YouTube