June 15, 2021
Rezaei in Clubhouse Q&A
Mohsen Rezaei appeared on a Clubhouse Q&A session this evening to promote his campaign. Rezaei promised to resolve the JCPOA nuclear agreement immediately upon taking office and to sign the FATF once sanctions are lifted. Rezaei said he would improve the process for vetting presidential candidates by providing “specialised tools” to the Guardian Council and promised to better manage internet filtering but not eliminate it. Rezaei also promised to include Sunni Iranians in his cabinet.
June 10, 2021
Raisi Meets with Sunni Members of Parliament
Ebrahim Raisi held a meeting with Sunni members of parliament in which they endorsed his candidacy and called for unity. A Sunni representative from the southern city of Bushehr said of Raisi “we expect him to work for the realization of humanity and fulfill our demands of the government” while a representative from the north-east called for unity in order to eliminate conflict and achieve glory. A representative from Kurdistan also asked Raisi to seriously deal with the problems that affect Sunni provinces, such as discrimination in employment and poor infrastructure.
June 9, 2021
Molavi Abdol-Hamid Does Not Support Any Candidate…Yet
A spokesman for Molavi Abdol-Hamid Esma’il-Zahi, considered the most senior Sunni religious leader in Iran, said that the Friday Imam of the Zahedan Mosque has not determined if he will support any candidate at this stage. The question came after another senior Sunni leader endorsed Ebrahim Raisi this week, and amid rumours that Raisi’s campaign team had met with Abdol-Hamid in Zahedan at the end of May. Abdol-Hamid endorsed Hassan Rouhani in 2013, which led to a large percentage of Iran’s Sunni minority, especially in Baluchistan, to vote for him.
June 6, 2021
Turkmen Sunni Leader Endorses Raisi
Haj Akhund Galdi Kamali, a senior member of the Sunni jurisprudential council of Iran, told his congregation in North Khorasan province to vote for Ebrahim Raisi. The Haj Akhund said “all of you dear Turkmen people of North Khorasan, wherever you are and whatever your inclination and thoughts, are expected to be an enthusiastic and public presence at the ballot box with your vote for Ayatollah Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi on Friday the 18th” of June.
May 14, 2021
Fourth Day of Registrations
The fourth day of registrations was among the most controversial so far, with high-profile former political prisoner Mostafa Tajzadeh registering in the morning, a rumour of Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi’s plans to register in defiance of the Guardian Council (which never eventuated), and a number of members of the public whose registrations were symbolic, including a 22-year-old female university student and a Kurdish man in traditional costume who told reporters “no one can stop me from running because of my religion”, a clear reference to the exclusion of Sunni Muslims in Iran. Among other high-profile candidates registering today were IRGC officer Ali-Reza Afshar and Fereydoun Abbasi, the former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation.
May 14, 2021
Sunni Leader Condemns Discrimination
Molavi Abdol-Hamid Esma’el-Zahi, the Friday Prayer leader in Zahedan and most senior Sunni Muslim figure in Iran, criticised the method for disqualifying presidential candidates in his Friday sermon, saying it will lead to a low participation rate. Abdol-Hamid added that “a ruler should not support just one certain group, but represent all religions, sects, ethnicities and minorities”, adding that “Iran belongs to all Iranians”. Abdol-Hamid’s congregation are mostly ethnic Baluch Sunni Muslims who live in one of the most deprived parts of the country.
May 13, 2021
Ahmadinejad On the Campaign Trail
Former President and polarising candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hit the campaign trail today, just one day after registering for the election in controversial circumstances. He travelled to Khunj in Fars Province, a town mostly populated by the Lari-speaking minority who are mostly Sunni Muslims. Ahmadinejad was offered a sheep as a sacrifice for Eid al-Fitr by a local imam, which the former President insisted be spared and sold to him.
May 7, 2021
Kurdish Sunni Leader Criticises Exploitation of Minorities by Candidates
Former Reformist Parliamentarian, academic and Sunni Kurdish activist Jalal Jalalizadeh criticised the use of minorities in endorsing candidates, citing the apparent petition by 500 prominent Sunni Iranians in support of Ebrahim Raisi. Jalalizadeh said that candidates seeking Sunni votes should be genuinely committed to ending discrimination against the minority sect and active in appointing minorities to senior roles. In his ten-point plan, Jalalizadeh said representation of Sunnis in key roles should be proportionate to their population (about 10%) and that Sunni governors should be appointed in Sunni majority provinces, such as Kurdistan and Baluchistan.