Hardliner Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami used his Friday sermon to condemn reformist calls for an election boycott, saying it is in stark opposition to Ayatollah Khomeini, the deceased leader of Iran’s 1979 Revolution.
ISNA reports that Ayatollah Khatami told worshippers in Tehran today that people have the the “right and responsibility” to participate in elections, adding that the enemies “always try to disturb the atmosphere around elections, and if they did not do that, then we would become suspicious.”
Iranian reformists groups have announced that they will not participate in the coming parliamentary elections because of the closed political atmosphere and the government’s refusal to release political prisoners and allow for open political activity.
The reformists became the target of widespread persecution and arrest after the 2009 presidential elections. The reformist candidates challenged the outcome and accused the government of vote fraud, which led to mass demonstrations. The establishment denied the charges and instead cracked down on election protesters, instituting a campaign against reformist leaders, newspapers and websites.
The conservatives accuse reformists of playing into the hands of Iran’s “enemies.” Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has said the reformists can participate in the coming elections only if they admit to their errors in the last election.
Ahmad Khatami accused reformists of copying “Western models” and dismissed their statements, saying: “In their delusions, they think if they issue statements and say we will not come and we will boycott…..something is going to happen.”
He stated that the call to boycott the elections is in complete opposition to Imam Khomeini, Iran’s late leader.
In the past week, conservative MP Ali Motahari has been urging reformists to take part in the elections and pursue their demands through Parliament.
Reformists, however, say the elections are heavily skewed and there is no possibility for reformists to get a fair shot at victory.
The Parliamentary elections are slated for March, and candidate registration, which started last week, will end today.