A close associate of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and of his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai has been arrested by Iranian authorities.
The arrest of Hojjatoleslam Abbas Amirifar, who heads the president’s Cultural Council, was confirmed by a number of Iranian websites, including Khabar-on-line and Jahan News as well as the Campaign for Human rights in Iran.
The Campaign cites “an informed source” saying that Revolutionary Guards officials arrested Amirifar on Sunday.
He was reportedly summoned to the prosecutor’s office by phone. He had dismissed the call because a summons has to be delivered in writing. So yesterday the officials arrested him at his home.
Jahan News writes that Amirifar has been referred to the Special Court for the Clergy for his involvement in the production and distribution of the film “Appearance is Close!” as well as disturbing public minds and insulting political groups and figures.
The documentary “Appearance is Close!” by filmmaker Ali Aghar Seihani has drawn adverse reaction from the Islamic Republic establishment. The film set out to prove that the re-appearance of the twelfth Imam of the Shiites, who is supposed to initiate judgement day, is near. The film has apparently been produced and distributed free of charge all across Iran by groups connected with the Islamic Republic government.
Iran’s Prosecutor General, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, had previously announced that the film’s producers are under investigation.
Hojjatoleslam Amirifar is one of the figures closest to Ahmadinejad and a staunch supporter of his much maligned chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai. He also leads a series of groups and councils in support of Ahmadinejad’s government. Amirifar has been quoted by Fars news agency saying Esfanidar Rahim Mashai would certainly be elected if he ran for president.
Esfanidiar Rahim Mashai has been condemned and criticized by numerous conservative members of the clergy and parliament for his promotion of the so-called “Iranian School of Islam” which they view as a way of spreading nationalist sentiment as opposed to religious ones.
Amirifar has been quoted as saying that the Islamic Republic conservatives are a spent force that will be defeated in future elections by Ahmadinejad and his supporters.
He most recently stated that, despite what conservatives would have everyone believe, the Supreme Leader also supports Esfanidiar Rahim Mashai.
Amirifar’s arrest comes on the heels of Ahmadinejad’s return to cabinet meetings, following his nine-day boycott of official duties. The boycott began when the Supreme Leader overruled the president’s decision to accept the resignation of his intelligence minister.