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'Ayatollahs Said No To Sunni Ministers'

Molavi Abdol-Hamid Ismaeelzahi (L), a prominent Sunni cleric in Iran, in a meeting of Sunni clerics with president Rouhani, on December 2016.

A prominent former MP and Kurdish rights activist, Hassel Dasseh has maintained that a number of Grand ayatollahs or Shi’ites’ sources of emulation have forced President Hassan Rouhani to keep Iranian Sunnis out of his new cabinet.

In an interview with Campaign for Human Rights in Iran’s website, the reformist former MP has also asserted, “During a gathering with a number of officials, they told me that the sources of emulation have called Government’s staff, ordering them to ‘wrap-up’ what they labelled as “Sunni shenanigans”.

The former member of Iran’s sixth parliament, where reformists were in majority, has neither mentioned the names of his sources nor the Grand Ayatollahs.

Since Islamic revolution in 1979, Sunnis have been kept out of sphere of power in Iran, including cabinets and key positions.

Rouhani’s new government proved not to be an exception, whereas Sunni MPs had already urged him to include Sunni elites in his future administration.

Prague based journalist, Farnoush Amirshahi, in an interview with Radio Farda, reminds, “During his campaign for reelection, Rouhani never skipped the chance to highlight his governments interest in guarding and promoting women, youth and ethnic minorities’ rights”.

However, Ms. Amirshahi reiterated, “After Rouhani’s reelection, it has been proved that the president and his men have either not been able or not sincerely wanted to change the routine way of running the government and end the rule of clergy over national affairs.”

Furthermore, “Rouhani’s new cabinet” Amirshahi believes, “proved that it’s based on business as usual motto, and Shi’ite jurisprudence view counts much more crucial than the rule of law to the extent that ayatollahs can easily block women and minorities from entering the cabinet, by a simple telephone call.”

Sunnis have been kept out of Rouhani’s cabinet while the overwhelming majority of them voted for him.

“Mr. Rouhani has deeply disappointed his Sunni supporters,” Hassel Dasseh asserted, adding, “Should Rouhani and other decision makers not change their approach, many people in (mainly populated by Sunnis) province of Kurdistan might lose their confidence in political participation and totally change the political setting in the province”.

Iranian Sunnis, according to Dasseh, “Need sincere conciliation, not lip service”.