Moderate Iranian Purge
Wall Street Journal
Tehran on Monday barred 635 of the 801 candidates who had
intended to run next month for seats in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, the body
that will select and nominally oversee the country’s next Supreme Leader. That
comes on the heels of last week’s disqualification of some 7,000 candidates
for next month’s elections to the Iranian Majlis, or Parliament. So much for
the nuclear deal’s promise of empowering Iranian reformers.
The disqualifications were the work of the Guardian Council,
an unelected body that vets candidates for ideological purity. The system allows
the mullahs to hold popular “elections” while ensuring no one who might
challenge Islamist rule could ever be in a position to win a seat.
Monday’s purge of candidates betrayed an especially
hard-line approach. Among the disqualified is 43-year-old Hassan Khomeini—grandson
of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution that created
the Islamic Republic. Officially, the younger Khomeini is insufficiently versed
in Shariah law. The real reason is that he is reform-minded and popular with
Meantime, the leaders of the pro-democracy Green Movement, Mir
Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, are still under house arrest. Ayatollah
Hossein Boroujerdi, the country’s most prominent advocate for the separation
of mosque and state, remains imprisoned. So do Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, Azar
Masouleh, Atena Farghadani and other imprisoned rights activists who have been
forsaken by the West in its rush to improve relations with their jailers.
All of this will ensure that whoever replaces Supreme Leader
Ali Khamenei will be another ideological purist close to the country’s
security establishment. Iranians hoping for greater freedom under a real
democracy will have to wait for a more revolutionary form of change than fake
elections and sweetheart nuclear deals.