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Political Dispute in Iran after Tightening Restrictions on Khatami | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Official Website

London- The reformist faction in the Iranian parliament has protested “new restrictions” imposed on the country’s former president, Mohammad Khatami, calling them “explicit and obvious” violation of articles of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, 86 MPs have called upon President Hassan Rouhani to step in to prevent the restrictions and report the outcome to the parliament.

However, the spokesman of the judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei has insisted that the restrictions are not “new” and are merely the extension of “old” measures imposed on the reformist ex-president based on a resolution approved by the Supreme National Security Council Secretariat (SNSCS).

Rouhani, who also presides over the SNSCS, has dismissed the judiciary’s claims as unfounded. His ministers have also insisted that the SNSCS has never issued a resolution banning Khatami from attending public ceremonies.

The Reformist faction Omid (Hope) in the parliament issued a statement on Sunday, saying “increasing restrictions on Khatami’s presence at cultural, political and promotional ceremonies” are in violation of the Articles 20, 23, 36 and 37 of the country’s Constitution.

“These restrictions”, the faction asserted, “have increased the former president’s popularity.”

Furthermore, in a reminder for Rouhani, several MPs called upon him, as the head of the Supreme National Security Council, to guard “fundamental rights” and prevent any move that “restricts citizens’ rights”.

The MPs also asked Rouhani to act against the recent conviction of several political activists and report its outcome to the public.

An opposition website close to Iranian Green Movement, Kalemeh has reported that “the Special Clerical Court has sent a letter to former president Khatami informing him that, for a period of three months, he is barred from attending any political and promotional ceremonies.”

The letter was signed by the head of the Special Clerical Court, and the runner-up in the May 19 presidential election, Ebrahim Raeisi.

Based on the letter, 74-year old Khatami is now barred from attending assemblies, conferences, seminars, theaters, artistic ceremonies and performances, including, concerts, recitals and dramas. The letter has gone much further, barring the reformist ex-president from attending non-family gatherings, including private meetings with activists.

Khatami is believed to have played a crucial role in Rouhani’s ascension to the presidency in 2013 and 2017, apparently convincing his second term vice president, the reformist challenger Mohammad Reza Aref to step aside in favor of Rouhani.

Rouhani, categorically denied the judiciary’s claims, affirming on Saturday, “the reason behind the restrictions against Khatami is the fact that they want to punish somebody” [Khatami] for his impact on the “elections”; referring to the time when the former president urged the people to go to the polls.

“If anybody repeats that people should head to the ballot box, they should be punished?” he asked.