Iran MP: We’ve Created Artificial Red Lines on Free Speech

By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Official campaigning for the Feb. 26 Iran parliamentary elections will begin Feb. 18 and last until Feb. 25, according to official election bodies. However, as is the norm in Iranian politics, unofficial campaigning has already begun, with candidates giving speeches at universities, the traditional epicenter of Iranian political activity.

Shargh Daily covered two of the more notable speeches at Amir Kabir University in Tehran on Feb. 15 by Mohammad Reza Aref (pictured), the lead Reformist candidate for Tehran, and Ali Motahhari, the former conservative member of parliament now running under Aref’s Reformist list.

Aref, who heads a list of 30 Reformist candidates, said that while this Iranian year (since March 20, 2015) brought about the final nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, it was the exception to the slogan promoted by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of “Government and Nation, Empathy and Rapport.”

On the mass disqualifications of candidates, Aref said, “We had expectations that this year, for these two fateful elections that will make clear the direction of the future, that ‘rapport’ would exist … but many of the supporters of the Islamic Republic were disqualified.”

Of the nearly 12,000 candidates to register for the parliamentary elections, 4,230 candidates were approved to run. Over 5,000 candidates were either disqualified to run or their qualifications were not approved. According to the Iranian election bodies, 612 candidates also withdrew.

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