While a large segment of Iranians are suffering from acute food shortage, unemployment, poverty and starvation, a senior Iranian mullah said, those who will not vote in the upcoming June 18 presidential elections would be termed as “infidels” and non-Muslims. According to media reports, while delivering his sermon during Friday prayers in Mashhad, Ahmad Alamolhoda made this outrageous remark.
The hardline cleric is the representative of the Supreme Leader in the northeastern city of Mashhad. He is also the father-in-law of Chief Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, the favorite presidential candidate of Supreme Leader Khamenei. Many believe Raisi will become Iran’s next president.
“A person who says they will not take part in elections is not Muslim according to a narration (attributed) to the Prophet of Islam,” Alamolhoda said adding that voting was a “religious duty”.
“Saying you will not vote because your favorite candidate was disqualified is like saying you will also not pray. People who are atheists and do not believe in God and are the mercenaries of America and the Zionist media can say whatever they want. But you are Muslim and believe in God. Can you say you will not vote?” he added.
The Guardian Council, a powerful body tasked with vetting election candidates, only approved seven of the 592 presidential hopefuls. The approved candidates are all hardliners, fiercely loyal to the regime’s Supreme Leader.
In response to the widespread criticism of the unprecedented disqualifications, Khamenei defended the Guardian Council’s vetting of candidates during a meeting with Iranian MP’s on May 27.
He told the MPs via video call that “the honorable Guardian Council, in accordance with its duty, did what it had to do and what it deemed necessary to do and identified the candidates”.
The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom also defended the Guardian Council’s move and said maximum election participation “for the Islamic Republic” was the duty of the people.
“Creating false dipoles produces more divisions rather than encourage participation,” the clerical body said citing the disqualification of all the so-called “moderate” or centrist candidates.
Mohsen Araki, a member of the Assembly of Experts, also voiced support for elections and said the real meaning behind presidential elections was a “declaration of obedience to the divine state”.
“(By voting) People declare they are obedient to this organizational state, and that they want to elect a good executive arm to aid its current ruler, which is the Supreme Leader,” the member of the powerful body that chooses the Supreme Leader said.
The cleric also said those who criticized the vetting of candidates were “weakening the law in favor of the enemy” and that disagreeing with the Guardian Council was “disagreeing with the Islamic state”.
Presidential candidate Ibrahim Raisi also said, “no one should be absent in the vote”.
“People should take part with hope in the elections, and no one should be absent. Conditions will change,” he said.
He asked Iran’s young generation to “create their own destiny” by voting.
“If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the current situation… you should not take revenge on the current government by taking revenge on the future government,” Iran’s Chief Justice, known for his role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners, added.
According to Tehran’s temporary Head of Friday Prayers, all countries “filtered” their election candidates.
“All countries have filters that prevents people from attaining sensitive positions,” Kazem Seddigh said.
This is while a hardline Iranian newspaper described as being close to Khamenei said Iran’s next president had already been chosen and that the other six candidates should do everyone a favor and cooperate rather than compete.
“It is already clear from now what path the 2021 presidential elections are taking and no one has any doubt as to who the final winner will be. Therefore, it is better for other candidates to work together from now on instead of opposing each other, and to emphasize in their election campaign that they will try to help the elected president,” Jomhouri Islami Daily wrote in its editorial yesterday. The “elected president” is, of course, Ebrahim Raisi. The daily also said none of the approved candidates had the power to fix Iran’s current crises.