Sunday, December 4, 2022

Can Religious Minorities Run in Iran Local Elections?

While Iran’s Guardian Council is opposed to the candidacy of religious minorities in City and VillageCouncils elections in Muslim-majority areas, Iranian parliament speaker says they can run for local votes in all parts of the country.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has ordered the commissions monitoring City and VillageCouncils elections to comply with the law concerning the candidacy of religious minorities, which allows them to run, a top parliamentarian told ISNA.

EsfandiarEkhtiari, who represents the Zoroastrian community in the Parliament, said he had written a letter to Larijani indicating that under the law, religious minorities must not be banned from running in the election.

The MP wrote the letter after the supervisory Guardian Council announced that the law, which allows religious minorities to run in local elections, is against the Islamic law (Sharia).

In his letter, Ekhtiari said the law questioned by the Guardian Council Secretary Ahmad Jannatihad already been applied to previous rounds of voting where religious minorities were actually allowed to file their candidacy.

Ekhtiari highlighted in his letter that if religious minorities are not allowed to run in this round of local elections, thiswill be a violation of the Constitution and justice.

In the letter, he asked the Speaker to study the matter in accordance with the Constitution and announce the necessary instructions accordingly.

After Larijani issued his order, Ekhtiari further told ISNA that a meeting was also held with members of the commissions tasked with overseeing City and Village Councils elections. He said most of the commissioners agreed that the law in question must remain in effect, and must be enforced to the letter.

“Under the Constitution, it is only the Parliament which is authorized to pass legislation, and the Guardian Council can only express its jurisprudential viewpoint on the bills and motions approved by the MPs within the legal deadline,” said Ekhtiari.

“If the Guardian Council finds the legislation in violation [of laws and regulations], the Parliament will either rectify the legislation or insist on the legislation in which case the matter will be handed over to the Expediency Council to settle,” the parliamentarian added.

“So, a law approved 20 years ago and implemented in elections for several times needn’t be interpreted, and should the law need to be reformed, it must be done through the submission of a new bill or motion,” Ekhtiari further said.

However, despite Larijani’s clear order, the Guardian Council Spokesman Abbas-Ali Kadkhodaei once again repeated the GC’s stance on Thursday, and stated that the Guardian Council is always allowed to declare illegitimacy of the country’s laws.

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