Ayatollah Dastgheib

Ayatollah Dastgheib, the Iranian senior cleric and a member of the Assembly of Experts, says: “The essence of the regime is now under question; the people have distanced themselves from religion and God and are now completely pessimistic about it.”

In a letter on his website, dated February 26 and addressed to the members of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Dastgheib writes: “Before the elections of 2005, there were no critical issues and no one’s rights had been openly violated, but after the 2005 elections, because of the mismanagement and the rule of an unprofessional group, the system is now damaged.”

In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the helm at the presidency for the first time.

Dastgheib is also critical of the Assembly of Experts, saying: “Currently, a number of the assembly’s members are not approved of by the senior members of the clergy and they have merely entered the Assembly of Experts through political and ideological lobbies, and Sources of Emulation and top members of the clergy will never approve of them. Similarly they won’t approve of the system as they will not approve the violation of Islamic laws.”

The Assembly of Experts is a government body in the Islamic Republic with representatives from various parts of the country. The body is charged with overseeing the actions of the Supreme Leader and establishing that he is worthy of his position at the helm of the country.

Dastgheib writes, however, that any assembly members who make the slightest criticism against the leader are pushed aside. He added that all the top bodies have lost their independence, and everything has been passed on to the Revolutionary Guards, who now interfere in every affair.

The opposition has been particularly critical of interference by the Revolutionary Guards Corps in political matters, especially in recent years.

Ayatollah Dastgheib maintains that the assembly must continue to closely scrutinize every detail of the Supreme Leader’s actions, and any claim otherwise would indicate “a lack of expertise in Islamic laws… logic and God’s commandments.”

Recently, clergy member Abbas Nabavi announced that Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has forbidden the Assembly of Experts from interfering in the details of his actions.

Ayatollah Dastgheib also points to reports of “coerced confessions” from detainees and “the intimidation of families of detainees” as well as “a lack of adherence to the letter of the constitution,” stating: “If such things are happening in the country, we can no longer call it an Islamic country, and if it is not Islamic, then an Assembly of Experts is meaningless, and the statements of its members are worthless.”

Ayatollah Dastgheib has been severely critical of the government crackdown on protesters over the past two and a half years.