02/21/2007, 00.00
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Assembly of Experts sworn in, but Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani don’t shake hands

by Dariush Mirzai
The ceremony behind closed doors followed the traditional norms governing these events. But there was also an attempt to justify the fact that women and lay jurists were not elected. All the regime representatives were there, except for Khamenei: health reasons?

Teheran (AsiaNews) - The mutual hostility between the populist Ahmadinejad and the pragmatic Rafsanjani, who did not shake hands, was arguably the most interesting feature of a swearing-in ceremony of the “Assembly of Experts”, the 86 mullahs who have the power to choose and perhaps even to bring down the Supreme Guide. They were elected in December, with the victory of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the defeat of the favoured candidate of the President of the Republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an extremist Mesbah-Yazdi, who got rather a low number of votes despite this backing.

Nearly all the Iranian regime was present yesterday in the ex hall of Parliament, except the Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei (for health reasons?)… and the people of Iran. In the gallery, as if it was a football game behind closed doors, there were only the cameramen of state television and the diplomatic corps. Worthy of note.

The ceremony, under the auspices of the Guardians Council, included, as usual, the singing of a verse from the Koran and the national anthem. As usual, speeches included the glorification of the Islamic Republic, a model of “religious democracy” and criticism of the United States (“a brainless monster”), the United Kingdom and all those who conspire against Islam and Iran. The repeated condemnation of “terrorism” as contrary to Islam was interesting, as was the need to maintain unity in the face of various dangers, among others the risk threatening Iran’s civil nuclear program, “an inalienable, natural divine right”, as ayatollah Meshkini put it.

The results of the election were interpreted to be in favour of the regime: 65% of those who voted (28 million voters out of a population of 70 million) translates into popular support for the system of the Islamic Republic and even an act of Muslim devotion! The election, what’s more, was not of a “political” but a spiritual nature.

A word of explanation was given to justify the non-election and further, the non-selection, of women and lay jurists. The need to comment on this point reveals that “western” (in reality universal) values have taken root in Iranian society, as does the fact that this Assembly of old mullahs was presented as a “guarantee of respect for human rights!”

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Iran elections: Ahmadinejad’s “Sweet Smell” of defeat
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