Outspoken former lawmaker Ali Motahari on Wednesday said a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official has admitted to him that Iran remains silent about the suppression of Chinese Muslims -- mainly Uyghurs -- because of economic dependence on China.
Speaking to Asr-e Iran news website, Motahari said he asked the official about the reason of Iran's silence a while back. "We are forced to silence because of needing [China] economically, the official said according to Motahari.
Motahari has not named the official but he is probably referring to a conversation with Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif.
"I told him why do you have to push relations with the rest of the world to the point that you have to fall in China's lap?," Motahari told Asr-e Iran.
The outspoken conservative figure has recently stirred a lot of controversy among hardliner political figures close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about the situation of Uyghur Muslims in China.
He has accused the Iranian government of "double standards" and the Chinese government of attempting to uproot Muslims in the Xinjiang Province of China. "They have destroyed many mosques in Xinjiang and do not allow [Muslims] to hold their religious ceremonies. They even sterilize their women to prevent their population from increasing, I have heard," he said.
"Officials have closed their eyes to this gross injustice and are silent because of the need for economic relations with China," Motahari stressed and called on hardliners not to remain silent about the issue. "Enmity with the West should not make us dependent on the East [China and Russia] in a way that we cannot even protest to [the ill-treatment of Muslims in] China," he added.
The three-time representative of Tehran in parliament was disqualified by the hardliner election watchdog, the Guardian Council, from running in the February elections for the current Parliament.
Motahari has come under heavy attacks from hardliners for his revelations about Iran's double standards regarding violation of the rights of Chinese Muslims.
His critics claim that governments such as Saudi Arabia are planning to promote Wahabism in Xinjiang and that ISIS is going to spread in the region if the Chinese government does not confront these groups.