Speaking about his re-election as president, Hassan Rouhani said that the votes people cast for him meant the voices of young people, women and minorities have been heard.
“In this election, the voice of the people was clearly heard,” he added, speaking at the first government meeting on May 21. He urged the public to feel like partners in the future of the country and speak up through political parties, groups, civic organizations, and online.
However, the hardliners in Iran who control all the military, intelligence and judicial organs do not react lightly to signs of dissent. Hundreds of journalists, civic activists and members of minorities have been arbitrarily arrested during Mr. Rouhani’s first term in office. Many are still in prison without adequate legal defense.
But now, Rouhani can claim to have received a mandate from the people. His 57% showing in the race was respectable and his supporters handily won in some important local council races in major cities, including the holy city of Mashhad, where his main opponent, Ebrahim Raisi comes from.
Rouhani, who was considered the moderate candidate and was backed by reform minded politicians and people, said that the voices of young people and families who yearn for a better future; women and minorities who want equal treatment and opportunity were heard.
Before the May 19 election, leaders of some religious minorities had endorsed Rouhani. Mawlana Abdol-Hamid, the spiritual leader of the Sunni community and other well-known Sunni community leaders had voiced their support for the incumbent.
Sunni leaders have repeatedly complained about official discrimination against member of their community, who are routinely denied high level government jobs and not even allowed to have a mosque in Tehran, Iran’s capital.
Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews are also denied high level government positions. Worst off are the Baha’i who are even denied the right to education.
Rouhani also used the opportunity to mention the opponents and adversaries of the Islamic Republic, asking the people to unite to help the country’s progress.