A former Iranian MP has provoked a variety of reactions from the Iranian establishment by appearing on television to slam the political system’s lack of “active criticism” and to call for ways of questioning the Supreme Leader.
When Emad Afrough appeared on the National Iranian TV channel on Sunday, he criticized the lack of ways to challenge government policies and officials and to engage officials in critical dialogue.
Conservative MP Hamid Resai told Parliament on Tuesday that the National broadcaster had no business airing such statements.
While Resai’s indignation was echoed by several other MPs, Mostafa Kavakebian, a member of Parliament’s minority faction, spoke in support of the program, saying: “Mr. Afrough’s critics want to hear no other voice except their own.”
Afrough has said that his views were expressed in the framework of the “values and principles of the Islamic Revolution, the thoughts of the leader of the Revolution and the Supreme Leader,” adding that he is calling on Parliament for a response.
He claimed that he is planning to publish his statements so they can be put forward for discussion.
Afrough had stated that he is gravely concerned about the “widening of the gap between officials and the public.”
Afrough has quoted several religious sources as well as Ayatollah Khomeini, the late leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, to emphasize that the people have the right to “advise” the Islamic leader.
Afrough stated: “If any member of society wishes to question the leader, they have the right to do it, and the leader must respond or else be dismissed from his position.”
The Iranian establishment has shown great sensitivity to open criticism of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and in recent years many citizens have been imprisoned for writing open letters of criticism to him.
Most recently, Hossein Alai, a former leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, wrote a letter that implicitly criticized the actions of Ayatollah Khamenei around the controversial 2009 presidential elections, triggering adverse reactions from the leader’s supporters. They gathered in front of Alai’s residence and painted defamatory slogans on the walls.
Alai later announced that his article had been misinterpreted.