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Outspoken Female Lawmaker Delivers Fiery Speech In Iran Against 'Grim Despotism'

Parvaneh Salahshouri speaking in the Iranian parliament. December 9, 2019

In a fiery speech on Monday an outspoken female Iranian lawmaker criticized the Islamic Republic for "grim despotism" and the ever-increasing powers of parallel, unelected centers of power.

In her speech Parvaneh Salahshouri who is a representative of Tehran in the Majles (Iranian parliament) said the concentration of power in unelected bodies is destroying the "republican nature of the system".

Salahshouri blasted the existence of parallel and even multiple parallel entities that rule alongside the elected bodies and said parallel entities "get away from taking responsibility" for their actions.

She also bitterly criticized Iran's rulers for not seeing how much ordinary people suffer and failing to adjust their policies to address deep-rooted problems.

In her speech Salahshouri criticized discrimination against ordinary people in favor of the supporters of the establishment. "Sadly, we have abandoned the people, except for a minority who enjoy favors and advantages," She said.

Hardliner Iranian media ignored Salahshouri’s speech while some others provided a partial coverage. But a sound file of the fiery speech has been uploaded on Youtube.

Parallel entities such as the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization operate alongside the Intelligence Ministry, much more freely, and are exempt from any official scrutiny of their actions.

Military bodies among a host of other entities, are under the supervision of the Supreme Leader, and elected bodies such as the Majles have no authority to scrutinize them.

In Iranian political scene this is referred to as "dual sovereignty", i.e., the existence of a government-like structure under Khamenei's control which oftentimes overrules the elected administration and the Parliament and makes them practically ineffective.

An example of overruling the Majles is Khamenei's intervention which stopped lawmakers from opposing the gasoline price hike in November when the government decision to ration gasoline and hike its price led to protests throughout the country.

One of the entities most blamed for paralyzing elected bodies is the twelve-member clerical Guardian Council appointed by Khamenei which has the power to disqualify candidates in presidential and parliamentary elections, often approving less qualified people to run. "The result is that instead of being the top authority, the Islamic Consultative Majles has no place whatsoever," the conservative Jomhuri Eslami newspaper said in an unexpected editorial today, which shows even some conservatives are unhappy.

In today's session a number of hardline lawmakers of the Paydari group on the Majles floor tried to silence Salahshouri by shouting loudly and demanded that her microphone be turned off. One of the hardline lawmakers shouted at her that she was "insulting all the sanctities of the system".

Salahshouri had called for a referendum in September to solve controversial issues such as Iran's foreign policy, the state-run television, the all-powerful Guardian Council's intervention in elections through its "approbatory supervision" in elections, and the Assembly of Experts' supervision of the Supreme Leader's performance.

Salahshouri has refused to run for a seat in the upcoming elections. "I could not convince my conscience to run again," she said yesterday. She named the "bodies that limit the powers of the parliament, ignoring people's views and wishes, the inappropriate implementation of the approbatory supervision of Guardian Council and the suppression of the November protests” as her reasons for not running for a seat in the upcoming elections.

In a tweet on November 29 she also alleged that rioters who destroyed government buildings, banks and other public facilities "had been planted among the people who were only protesting to their livelihood problems" and people were "butchered in the name of religion".

On December 2 Salahshouri called for a "truth-finding committee" to investigate the killing of the protesters including children such as the 14-year-old Nikta Esfandani who was shot to death in Tehran.