In an interview with the Mosalas weekly, outspoken Iranian MP Ali Motahari lashed out against the lack of freedom to criticize the Supreme Leader and challenged recent bans on concerts.

Ali Motahari

Ali Motahari

Motahari said the Islamic Republic system was not supposed to close the door on criticism of the Supreme Leader, adding that the media now operates in a very restrictive atmosphere and tries to steer away from risky expressions of opinion.

He stressed that an open atmosphere where people can freely express their opinions and offer criticism will lead to a calmer society and reaffirm the position of the Supreme Leader.

He also challenged a statement by the Mashhad Friday Mass Imam, who said his entire city should be regarded as the Shrine of the Eighth Imam and any form of musical event should be prohibited there.

Motahari asked: If Islam does not regard this music as haram, why should there be any restrictions on where it is performed? He urged the culture ministry to maintain a consistent policy on concert performances across the country and to resist bowing to pressure from extremists.

Motahari was attacked by a group of extremists on a recent trip to Shiraz to give a lecture at Shiraz University. He has been a vocal critic of the decision to continue the house arrests of the Green Movement leaders.