Ayatollah Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Khamenei

In a meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, condemned “immoral behaviour” and “vilification” in the country’s political sphere, and urged his supporters to stop such behaviour.

“An atmosphere of slander and defamation is against Islam, against religion and in violation of political wisdom, while also being an offence to God,” Ayatollah Khamenei told the Assembly members.

A video clip has been posted for weeks on You Tube that shows a group of government supporters verbally assaulting Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of Ayatollah Hashemi, Chairman of the Expediency Council and a member of the Assembly of Experts. The unprecedented force of the assault has caused even staunchly conservative establishment figures to call for the arrest of the perpetrators.

Furthermore, there have been several reports of pro-government mobs gathering in front of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani’s home and chanting slogans against him.

The attacks against Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family have snowballed over the past year and a half, ever since his speech at a Friday Mass Prayer in Tehran in the wake of the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mass protests that followed. At the time he aligned himself with the opposition by calling for a recount and the release of political prisoners.

Many Analysts ahve said that the Supreme Leader, who had implicitly indicated that Hashemi Rafsanjani had failed in his test of fidelity to the system in these events, has been the chief engineer of the attacks against the moderate cleric.

However, two days after Hashemi Rafsanjani passed on the chairmanship of the Assembly of Experts to a more conservative figure, Ayatollah Khamenei spoke positively about Hashemi Rafsanjani for the first time, lauding his quiet withdrawal from the chairmanship. He said Iran’s enemies had expected a rift in the Assembly of Experts, but Hashemi’s wise actions prevented that.

Hashemi Rafsanjani did not let his name stand for re-election to the chairmanship, leaving the spot open for the only other candidate, Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani.

Referring to Hashemi Rafsanjani’s withdrawal, Ayatollah Khamenei said: “Given my familiarity with his wisdom and sense of responsibility, I only expected him to behave as he did.”