One day later, Khatami stated, “I’m sure that their [Rafsanjani’s] list won’t be able to attract votes, as they are thought of as supporters of the sedition [unrest in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 presidential election] and are as hated as the [former] shah.”
Amid this outcry, news outlets associated with the moderates have defended Rafsanjani while lashing out at Ganji. Their line of reasoning is that Ganji — who is known as a staunch opponent of Rafsanjani — is in effect cooperating with the hard-liners in order to counter the moderate ayatollah. “Ganji is crusading to name himself as the creator of the famous idea [“No to these 5” campaign] and to give hard-liners a gift so that they can shout and say this idea [the campaign] has been nurtured by an anti-Islamic Republic figure. Therefore, they [hard-liners] can say that whoever buys into this idea [the campaign] is on the same side as Ganji,” Entekhab News wrote.
Rafsanjani has not shied away from stepping in amid the harsh sniping, saying, “They [the hard-liners] presently have no excuse to rage against us and insult us. Thus, they [the hard-liners] attribute phrases like ‘inside man’ and ‘British’ to the old revolutionaries.” He added, “These figures have been defeated by the people and are now seeking to exact [their] revenge on the administration and President Rouhani.”
Last, but certainly not least, Rafsanjani’s Instagram page has published a short text about how prominent moderate Ayatollah Mohammad Hosayn Beheshti, who was assassinated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq organization in 1981, was also accused of being “British” by hard-line elements.
Whether the controversy over the “English list” will ultimately keep voters from going to the ballots will be clear come election day Feb. 26. Until then, it appears that hard-liners will remain anxious about the prospect of voter mobilization leading to their exit from the assembly.