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News | 'I Have No Rights': Conservative Bloggers Vow to Sit Out Majles Vote

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

26 Feb 2012 17:25Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

KhameneiVoting.jpg5:25 p.m., 7 Esfand/February 26 After many opposition groups, both inside and outside of Iran, called for a boycott of the Majles elections that will take place on Friday, in a surprising development now some conservatives and hardliners are also, more or less explicitly, urging citizens to sit out the vote.

Hesameddin Motahari, publisher of the conservative website Ketaab-e Esha, wrote in his blog,

I am almost certain that I will not vote in the March 2 elections. This is the decision that I have made after much arguing with myself. I know that I [thus] align myself with those who reject the Islamic Republic, but my reason is different. Some people boycott the elections for personal reasons, while others do so for political reasons, and encourage this view. I am not writing this to encourage or discourage people to take part in the elections. I express my view as a citizen of a country in which, according to its Constitution, I am free to do so.

Let me say this bluntly: I will not vote for the same reason that a lot of people do vote. I believe that voting is only a path for repeating the same mistakes and weakening the Islamic Revolution. For years they [the government] have induced the people to vote in order to "slap the arrogant powers." From two weeks before the elections until two weeks after, they broadcast patriotic songs and ask the people to vote in order to strengthen the system and the stability of the country, in order to defeat and disappoint the enemy. I think about all the elections in which I have voted and realize that I voted for the same reason. Each time, dissatisfaction and problems told me "do not vote," but the speeches of the Supreme Leader, the television reports, and the patriotic songs fascinated me and once again under the excuse "vote again for the sake of the Revolution," they preoccupied me with writing the names of the candidates [on the ballots]. But this is no longer enough. [...]

The votes indicate what the people want. They want economic stability. They do not want to witness confrontations between the Majles and the [Ahmadinejad] administration. They do not want to be a tool in the games that the elite play. As a citizen and one of the people, I am unhappy about what transpired in Kahrizak. [In the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election, four young detainees were murdered at the Kahrizak detention center on the southern edge of Tehran.] Anytime I hear about it, it disturbs me and bothers me. I am concerned about the multibillion-dollar embezzlements. I suffered losses as a result of the fluctuations in the gold and currency market. During this entire time, neither the administration, nor the ruling groups, nor the Guardian Council, nor Sepah [the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] offered even a simple apology to me and my fellow citizens. I become depressed when I see the picture of the main culprit behind what happened at Kahrizak [former judge Saeed Mortazavi] and his present job title [Mortazavi now heads the judiciary's anti-narcotics division]. I become sad that every time people with good intentions set aside all of their criticisms and problems and vote again "to slap the arrogant enemy" and to preserve the country and the Revolution and commemorate the blood of the martyrs, but after two years they still do not know what happened at Kahrizak. For two weeks, the price of everything went up and increased multifold, but no one apologized to the people.... I believe that voting will make the government even more emboldened to repeat its mistakes in the future.

Motahari is not the only conservative who has effectively called for an election boycott. Young cleric Ahmad Najmi, who runs the Pen Society of Qom Seminary's public relations division for development of religious blogs, wrote, "It is very difficult for me to say this, but I will not vote in the elections, even if it costs me heavily." When asked on FriendFeed why he would not vote, he responded, "Given the present conditions, you expect me to vote?... As a citizen, I do not have any rights. Therefore, I will not vote." Mohammad Saleh Mofatteh, who publishes the conservative website Tribion-e Mostazafin, subsequently declared, "If I were in the place of Mr. Najmi, I would not vote either."

Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's supporters, who know that the elections have high stakes for the president and his last year in office, are not enthusiastic about the vote. Khat Khati, a blog written by Ahmad Saeedi, one of Ahmadinejad's most ardent online supporters, asked, "Are elections sufficient to realize the national will?" He answered his own question, No, they are not. He concluded that the upcoming elections will fail to bring to fruition "the national will and advances toward our desired goals." The following questions were posed by Armanshahr, another blogger: "Who is going to benefit from my vote and whose position will be strengthened? How long should I consider the expediency [of the political system] as the pillar of running the nation under the Islamic Republic and reaffirm it with my vote?"

Revolutionary Guards level new accusations at imprisoned journalists

The Center for Investigation of Organized Offenses, which is operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, issued a statement accusing a number of imprisoned journalists of having taken part in a purported operation dubbed "Fox's Eye," which is supposedly linked to the British Broadcasting Corporation and its activities in Iran. Referring to the journalists only by their initials, the Center accused them of collaborating with the BBC in the "soft war" against the Islamic Republic. According to the statement, 24 people have been identified as taking part in the operation, ten of whom live outside Iran. It identifies one "M.R." as playing a "complex role in attracting and employing people, as well as helping them to leave Iran." Some pictures of the accused in which their eyes have been covered were published.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Mohsen Kazemeini, commander of the Guards' greater Tehran division, said that if the Guards are successful in the "soft war," the security environment in the country will end. The Guards have claimed that 20,000 personnel have been trained and organized for the "soft war."

Khamenei's fatwa on voting

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa which declares that "those who are qualified to vote, and can vote, must vote." The edict also states, "Any candidate whose qualifications have been accepted by the Guardian Council is qualified to be elected, but between the qualified and most qualified the people should elect, based on wisdom, the latter."

85,000 Basijis to "provide security for the elections"

Brigadier General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, the commander of the national police, said that, in addition to the forces under his command, 85,000 members of the Basij militia will "provide security for the elections." The hardliners that are opposed to Ahmadinejad have been concerned about possible clashes between his supporters and their own.

Pro-Ahmadinejad websites blocked

By order of the judiciary, three websites that support Ahmadinejad and the group aligned with him for the Majles elections, Jebheh Paaydaari-e Enghelab-e Eslami (JPEE, or Durable Front of the Islamic Revolution) have been blocked by the judiciary. The websites are Bibak News, 598, and Serat News. Last week, Saeed Zakeri, political editor of 9 Dey, was arrested. The magazine is published by the cleric Hamid Rasaei, a hardline Majles deputy who supports Ahmadinejad and the JPEE.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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