A prominent critic of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Iran has said that the notion of supreme religious rule is “the foundation of oppression” imposed on the people of Iran since 1979.
Abolfazl Qadyani (also spelled Ghadyani) was a revolutionary who helped the clerics consolidate power after the downfall of the monarchy forty years ago. However, he fell out with Khamenei in 2009 after the disputed re-election of populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Since 2018, Qadyani has repeatedly called for Khamenei to step down and he was summoned to court, but the regime refrained from his arrest.
Qadyani in an interview with a website said, “The Supreme Leader is the pole that holds up the house of oppression over the people of Iran for years and there is no just conscience that has not realized this”.
The concept of the Supreme Leader or the rule of the religious jurist is a relatively new concept promoted by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. In Shiite Islam the guardianship of the religious jurist was a concept recommending protection of orphans, widows or the weak members of society by a learned cleric. It never had a political connotation until the 20th century.
Qadyani urged Khamenei to step down in 2018, demanding a referendum to establish a secular democracy.
In his latest interview he has repeated his demand, reiterating that Khamenei is the foundation holding up the house of oppression.
He has also criticized the establishment’s “reformist” camp for accepting illegal and anti-democratic policies imposed by hardliners and the Revolutionary Guards.
Qadyani has also said, “Oppressive rule will not become flexible if opponents show flexibility”. Instead it will only bow to civic and political resistance.