In an unprecedented development, an ultraconservative student group in Iran has asked the country's Supreme Leader to show up and give accountability about the Islamic Republic's 40-year record.
In a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an ultraconservative group has called upon him to attend a gathering in Tehran University and answer questions from students related to the performance of the "Islamic ruling system" in Iran since the downfall of monarchy nearly four decades ago.
The letter has also demanded Khamenei to respond to questions concerning the performance of state-run institutions under the Supreme Leader's supervision, including the Islamic Revolution Guardians Corps (IRGC) and other armed forces, as well as the judiciary, the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution and the national radio and television network, a state monopoly.
The letter has been published on the Twitter account of pro-reform Tehran MP Mahmoud Sadeqi, and several sites supporting the conservative camp that practically dominates Iran.
Calling directly on Khamenei to be "accountable" and demanding him to "explain" his performance is an unprecedented move in the Islamic Republic.
The letter, signed by an obscure students rights group, has insisted that, based on the authority that the Islamic Republic's Constitution has entrusted to the "velayat-e faqih” or the Supreme Leader, Khamenei is has an opportunity to offer an assessment of the record of the country's ruling system in the past forty years, as well as assess his role in supervising long-term national policies and his role as an arbiter between the three branches of power in the country.
As the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Khamenei has never attended a Q&A event or a press conference. He has always preferred to present his position on a myriad of matters through direct speeches addressed to a meticulously hand-picked limited audience.
Meanwhile, Khamenei's meeting with dozens of students on May 28, made headlines where his young conservative guests offered harsh criticism of the country's direction.
At that audience with Khamenei, university student Sahar Mehrabi read a speech in which, without directly blaming Khamenei, she recounted the "numerous crises" now facing the country.
Among them, she listed Iran's "intensified systematic inequality among social classes, the decline of public trust and the increase in environmental crisis and shantytowns." She also mentioned high unemployment, the challenges faced by minority groups and the way hard-line element's within Iran's judiciary and security system "fabricate security cases in a delusional way" to target activists.
"What answer does Your Excellency have in response to questions, criticisms, and protests," she asked.
In his own speech, Khamenei acknowledged many of the shortcomings, saying that "removing problems is not as easy" as the students expect. He said one solution can be the "injecting revolutionary, motivated and committed young people into the governmental apparatuses."
"Growth of the society requires freedom of expression," Khamenei said.
Khamenei's Twitter account also acknowledged the criticisms.
Furthermore, another university student, Mohammad Javad Motamedinejad, delivered a vitriolic speech at the meeting that echoed former hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s recent remarks against the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani.
Motamedinejad, who was later briefly detained by the judiciary, has presented himself as The Pro-Justice Students Movement of Iran that supports Ahmadinejad.
The signatories to the recent letter to Khamenei belong to a group labeled as the Assembly of the Pro-Justice Students or Justice-Seeking Students' League.
The League's manifesto on its official website presents it as an ultraconservative assembly supporting Khamenei and his close allies.
It is not yet clear whether the group is related to the one led by Motamadinejd, or not.
Several members of the Assembly as well as other students supporting Ahmadinejad, wrote an open letter to Khamenei last March, calling him to implement "essential and revolutionary" reforms in the Islamic Republic.