August 3, 2021

In Iran, the small reformist arrangements with the elected president

The news had the effect of a cold shower. Three days before the presidential election on June 18, the directors of the largest reformist Iranian newspapers (Shargh, Aftab-e Yazd, Ebtekar, among others) were photographed after their meeting with the future winner, the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raïssi, a man from the opposing camp. A meeting all the more astonishing as the great reformist figures who could have blocked Mr. Raïssi were all excluded from the race by the Council of Guardians of the Constitution, an unelected body responsible for examining the candidatures.

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During this interview, the head of the judiciary (2019-2021), having played an important role in almost all major cases of human rights violations, was praised by the directors of the reformist titles. His years in the judiciary, where he has spent his entire career since the 1979 revolution, have been described as“Imprints of reformism and tolerance” ; his personality portrayed as “Protector of the press”, despite the long list of arrests and very long prison sentences of journalists, writers and civil society activists during his reign.

“Jacket reversal”

“This photo will remain in the annals of the history of the Iranian press, especially for its symbolic meaning”, analyzes the Iranian journalist Pejman Moussavi, in Tehran. After learning of the meeting, he preferred to withdraw from the weekend supplement project of Shargh. “Out of respect for our readers and on principle”, he explains.

“For me it was a turning point. Many standardize this kind of jacket flipping. However, that the press titles which have obtained a certain legitimacy thanks to their proximity to a camp go see, all together, a man of the opposite camp and candidate in a non-democratic election, and that they make remarks so flattering towards him, was very shocking. For me, but also for many others. It was all the more unbearable as these same titles were very critical of Ebrahim Raïssi, four years ago, when he ran for president. [il a alors perdu face à Hassan Rohani, soutenu par les réformateurs] », confides the journalist.

In 2013, after the disqualification of former President Akbar Hachémi Rafsanjani, the favorite candidate of the reformers, the latter, including former President Mohammad Khatami, had succeeded in mobilizing the masses to elect Hassan Rohani, a man then far from representing the ideals of this camp. But the same efforts were not enough on June 18. This ballot was marked by a record abstention (51.8%) and by an unprecedented number of null and blank votes (4 million, or 13% of the votes).

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