Iran MP criticizes body that supervises supreme leader

Iranian conservative parliament member Ali Motahari has criticized the Assembly of Experts and continued house arrest without trial of the Green Movement leaders.

al-monitor Iranian lawmaker Ali Motahari speaks in the Iranian Parliament in Tehran, Nov. 15, 2009. Photo by REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl.
Arash Karami

Arash Karami


Topics covered

iranian politics, iran, green movement, conservatives, assembly of experts

Dec 1, 2014

Outspoken conservative member of the Iranian Parliament Ali Motahari has once again stirred controversy by criticizing the near four-year house arrest of the 2009 Green Movement leaders and questioning the function of the body meant to supervise and elect Iran's supreme leader.

During a speech at Ferdowsi University in the city of Mashhad Nov. 26, Motahari said, “The prime responsibility of the Assembly of Experts is to supervise the performance of the supreme leader and his subsidiaries. Until now, they have not done this and will not do it. They get involved with any issue other than the job they are supposed to do.”

Motahari continued, “Have they ever discussed a subsidiary of the institution of the supreme leader? For instance, the Headquarters for Executing the Order of Imam [Setad] has been turned into an economic cartel — they build towers. Has this been investigated?”

Motahari said that the Assembly of Experts cannot limit itself to choosing the supreme leader but also has to “research and investigate” institutions that operate under him. Setad, which operates under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was originally established to manage the properties and assets of individuals connected to the monarchy who either left Iran after the revolution or whose property was confiscated. Today, Setad is a large government conglomerate with various holdings.

Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, a member of the Assembly of Experts, responded to Motahari’s criticism with the ambiguous claim that “The Assembly of Experts is not the supervisor of the supreme leader’s performance but is responsible for checking and verifying his leadership qualifications.”

Alamolhoda, who is 15 years older than the 56-year-old Motahari, added that when he used to visit Motahari’s father, the late Ayatollah Morteza Motahari, Motahari “was a school child.”

During his speech at the university, Motahari once again criticized the house arrest without trial of 2009 presidential candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi, his wife Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karroubi. He said that when Assembly of Experts member Ayatollah Ali Mohammad Dastgheib called for the Green Movement leaders to speak openly and present their complaints of voter fraud from the 2009 elections, his religious centers were attacked and he was personally criticized.

In the audio file, a member in the audience interrupts Motahari and said that Ayatollah Khamenei himself invited Mousavi and Karroubi to speak to officials about their complaints. Motahari responded that private meetings “have no use. They should come on tv and speak.”

Motahari reiterated a previous statement in which he asked Ayatollah Khamenei about the issue of the house arrests, Khamenei said that the crimes of Mousavi and Karroubi are serious and if they are tried, their verdict will be severe. Therefore, their house arrests are a “favor.” Motahari said that he was “not satisfied” with the supreme leader’s answer and feels that the continued house arrest without trial is “unjust” and that the detainees should have the right to defend themselves in court.

The 2009 election is known as “the sedition” to many of Iran’s conservatives and continues to be used as a means to sideline figures who supported or expressed sympathy with the protests or the Reformist candidates.

Motahari is one of the few conservatives to call for a trial of the Green Movement leaders. Karroubi himself has requested one as well.

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