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Open Letter: Fatwa Issued for Changing the Vote in Favor of Ahmadinejad

07 Jun 2009 18:3517 Comments

By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

Read letter in Farsi

[TEHRAN BUREAU] In an open letter, a group of employees of Iran's Interior Ministry (which supervises the elections) warned the nation that a hard-line ayatollah, who supports President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has issued a Fatwa authorizing changing votes in the incumbent's favor.

They warned that the same thing happened in the elections for the 8th Majles (parliament), in March 2008, in order to change the vote in favor of the principlists (fundamentalists) allied with the president; but, fearing for their jobs, they had kept silent then.

The authors of the letter state that a copy of the letter has been sent to the President of the Assembly of Experts (a constitutional body that selects the Supreme Leader and monitors his performance) and to former president and powerful politician, Mr. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; the Speaker of the Majles (the parliament) Dr. Ali Larijani; the Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi; the Chair of the Committee for protecting People's Vote, Mr. Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour (a leftist cleric and supporter of Mr. Mir Hossein Mousavi); all the candidates, as well as the office of the Supreme Leader, in order to warn all the important national figures.

The letter states,

After several polls taken by the government in May that indicated a rapid loss of support for the President, an ayatollah, who used to speak about political philosophy in Tehran's public Friday prayers, held a confidential meeting with the elections' supervisors. Quoting the Bagharah Soureh, verse 249, of the holy Quran, to justify vote fraud, he stated that,

"If someone is elected the president and hurts the Islamic values that have been spread [by Mr. Ahmadinejad] to Lebanon, Palestine, Venezuela, and other places, it is against Islam to vote for that person. We should not vote for that person, and also warn people about that person. It is your religious duty as the supervisors of the elections to do so."

The ayatollah then harshly criticized the other candidates [Messrs Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mahdi Karroubi, and Mohsen Rezaaee]," and continued,

"You should throw away those who are unqualified, both morally and lawfully. Your highest call of duty at this time is to preserve your achievement."

The letter continues,

"After the meeting the elections supervisors, who had become happy and energetic for having obtained the religious fatwa to use any trick for changing the votes, began immediately to develop plans for it."

"First, although it had been announced on April 13, 2009 that the number of voting stations would be 48,000, they reduced it to 45,758, but increased the number of mobile voting stations [that move around towns in order to enable people to vote anywhere] dramatically." [The reformist camp has already protested this move very strongly.]

"Then, although according to the official statistics the number of eligible voters had been announced to be 51,300,000, they forced the director of Iran's Census Bureau, Dr. Mohammad Reza Madad, who is close to retirement, to accept to change the number of eligible voters to 46,200,000, hence eliminating more than 5,000,000 eligible voters."

"In another move, they declared that every vote-containing box must have two official seals of approval [otherwise, they are not counted]. This is also suspicious, since it is impossible to prepare so many official stamps."

"In addition, the Interior Ministry has printed over 58,000,000 voting forms, that's more than 12 million forms than is necessary [according to the revised number of eligible voters]. Even then, it has claimed to have printed only 57,000,000 forms, hence hiding about 1,000,000 voting forms."

The letter ends by saying that a huge turnout by the people will nullify these unlawful attempts to rig the elections, and will save the nation from another four years of Mr. Ahmadinejad governance.

There is credible evidence that what the open letter alleges to have happened in the 2006 elections for the 8th Majles did, in fact, happen. Then Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi (who had been strongly "recommended" by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) submitted a confidential report on those elections to the Supreme Leader, in which he reported on many elections irregularities, disappearance of some votes, and changing of others. When Mr. Ahmadinejad became aware of the report, he fired Mr. Pourmohammadi. Note that, the person in charge of supervising the election is the deputy Interior Minister for Elections, a purely political appointee selected by the President himself.

The present Interior Minister, Mr. Sadegh Mahsouli (who has a strong reputation for corruption) and his deputy for the elections, Mr. Kamran Daneshjou (a former hard-line commander in the Revolutionary guards), were hand-picked by Mr. Ahmadinejad. Another influential figure in the election is Brigadier General Alireza Afshar, another deputy to the Interior Minister and a hard-liner in the Revolutionary Guards.

The reference to the "political philosophy preaching" person is clearly pointing to Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who used to do the preaching in Tehran's Friday prayers. He is a reactionary cleric and the spiritual leader of the President and the hard-liners in the Basij militia and the armed forces. In the past he has openly opposed elections, has spoken against a republican political system, and has openly advocated an Islamic regime with no president, but led by an elected Supreme Leader.

In the elections two years ago for the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi could not gather significant votes. Strong and credible rumors at that time indicated that, many votes in Tehran, which had been cast for another clearly, Mr. Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam, were changed in order to get the ayatollah "elected," as it would have been totally embarrassing to the President if his spiritual leader had not been elected by the people.

A high turnout remains key.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

Photo/David Yaghoobi

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17 Comments

It is imperative that a copy of this letter be published in whole. You seem to have many quotes, do you have the letter? if you do you must publish it and if you don't you must find it. Since it has gone to so many people it should not be so hard to get a hold of considering the current atmosphere.

zal / June 7, 2009 2:58 PM

Since our program doesn't support Farsi, it's been posted here:

http://tehranbureaublog.blogspot.com/2009/06/open-letter-fatwa-issued-for-changing_07.html

tehranbureau / June 7, 2009 3:17 PM

why is this letter unsigned, and how can it be verified?

thanks-

siavash

siavash / June 8, 2009 12:00 AM

Siavash: Mousavi and Karroubi have now both wrote a letter to officials citing all the accusations made in that letter.

Anonymous / June 8, 2009 9:20 AM

Since you are using Wordpress, I can help you set up very, very simple RTL support for individual posts. You can see it in action at voteforiran.com. Drop me a line if you are interested.

Tori / June 8, 2009 1:21 PM

I guess you meant 2008, not 2006, as the date of the 8th Majles elections?

Rasmus / June 8, 2009 1:48 PM

Yes, Rasmus. You are correct. I'll fix it now. Thank you!

tehranbureau / June 8, 2009 2:16 PM

Ba Dorood,


The language of people of Iran is "Persian" and not Farsi.


Best Regards,

Saeed Tasbihsazan

Saeed Tasbihsazan / June 8, 2009 10:44 PM

The next president has already been chose by the Mullahs and the establishment will use the turnout as proof of the legitimacy of their power. It's strange how so many people still believe that by voting, they will have a say in the running of the country. Hasn't the last 30 years taught us anything? 'Khalayegh Harche Layegh'

Dany / June 9, 2009 5:21 AM

Fatwa? This is a loaded word.

This is bad reporting - did he really issue a "fatwa"?


And the Persian "letter" is so mixed of everything, what you mean by a "letter"? sources?


Hope your passion for freedom in Iran is matched by a passion for professonal reporting,

manouchehr / June 10, 2009 9:50 AM

We appreciate the constructive feedback. The word Fatawa has been used by most who have reported on the subject. It may not be the best word for it, but if one were to take into context the way in which this particular ayatollah works, the word fits. He typically issues what amounts to orders or religious instructions, which can be interpreted as a fatwa. This has happened many times in the past.

tehranbureau / June 10, 2009 11:21 AM

I'M A SUNNI MUSLIM BUT I AM A PRO OF THE PRESIDENT MAHMOOD AHMEDBHINEJAD. HE IS DOING AN EXCELLENT. THE MOST THINGS I AM APPRECIATE FROM HIM IS THAT HE IS NOT A COWARD MAN.

MAY ALLAH MAKE HIM SUCCESS IN THIS ELECTION


ARSHAAD

FROM MAURITIUS ISLAND

INDIAN OCEAN

ARSHAAD / June 10, 2009 2:44 PM

Saeed Tasbihsazan, what is the difference and why do you feel the need to bring it up in this article? Your comment is irrelevant and inaccurate.

Arjang / June 13, 2009 11:33 PM

It would be useful to see a complete translation of the letter posted at http://tehranbureaublog.blogspot.com/2009/06/open-letter-fatwa-issued-for-changing_07.html -- along with some attribution as the source of this letter -- not necessarily the person's name but their position.

Al Bredenberg / June 20, 2009 2:20 PM

This is for ARSHAAD


you do not know anything about Ahmadinajd. Not that he is coward, but totally he is stupid and ignorant, and biggest buster layer ever human being can remember. I do not car you are Sony or any damn religion. Please stick your head out of the MAURITIUS ISLAND and see what is going on around you and yourself.

I have to add; perhaps most of Muslims think like you, that is why all the country populated by Muslims is living in poverty and ignorance. Because their leader and mullahs do not want them to become knowledgeable about human progress, and human adventure to find Go, the true one not Allah and freedom. The wisest among you Muslim, when they could, would run to western country for better life. Right?

Iran is our country it is not a Muslim country, we are perhaps oldest civilized people. Do not mix us with Ahmadinejad, and alike. Sooner, he and all Mullahs will run for their levies, my be at that time you could shelter him in your Island'


Get life

Arshaad / July 31, 2009 11:20 PM


Arjang,

That might not be related to the article but very important point brought up by Saeed Tasbihsazan. It is meant for tehranbureau editors and it is a very appropriate comment. I see "Farsi" being used by tehranbureau all the time but do not bother to comment about it because, like you, feel it is irrelevant to the subject. But someone eventually needs to pay attention and correct this. If you want to learn more about the difference please visit:

http://www.iranian.com/Features/Dec97/Persian/

And

http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/Languages/persian_not_farsi.htm

Or read about it on Wikipedia by searching for Persian Language and Persia.

Kia / March 2, 2010 3:27 AM

I guess it's impossible to know whether this letter is real or fabricated unless we know who wrote it.

Perhaps the ayatollah who wrote it worries that he might be punished. But if so, one must wonder why his supporters would publish his letter and expose him to that risk. It's quite possible, after all, that the government might figure out who he is.

I guess it's impossible to know whether this letter is real or fabricated unless we know who wrote it.

Eric A. Brill / April 2, 2010 11:29 PM