Faezeh Hashemi, the youngest daughter of the late former speaker of the Iranian Parliament, president, and chairman of the Expediency Council, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has bitterly complained about her family’s plight in recent months.
“Five of the members of my family have been barred from leaving Iran or are repeatedly summoned to different courts,” Hashemi lamented in an interview with the Tehran daily Shahrvand.
Born in the sacred Shi’ite city of Qom, Hashemi -- who once garnered more than 860,000 votes and served as Tehran’s representative to parliament (1996-2000) -- says she is one of the Rafsanjanis legally barred from leaving Iran by the Justice Department.
The former MP and publisher of women’s rights magazine Zan (Woman, banned in 1999) insists she has experienced mounting problems since her father’s death in January.
“I have never had so many legal cases against myself. Well, I was sued a couple of times before. Yet during the past four or five months, I have received summons on a constant basis,” she said.
Hashemi always complies with the court summons but, “Whenever I present myself, the court finds out that complaints against me are totally unfounded. Nevertheless, it seems that summoning me to the courts of law are endless”.
Four years ago, in a court in Tehran, Hashemi was sentenced to six months in prison and banned for five years from any media or political activity. Based on her interview with an Iranian news website outside Iran, Roozonline, she was accused of propaganda against the regime and convicted.
In the interview with Roozonline, Hashemi had vehemently criticized violations of individual and human rights, management of economy affairs, and Iran’s foreign relations with outside world.
Meanwhile, she had decried an attack against her and several companions by a gang of so-called “Hezbollahis” in the city of Shahr-e Rey.
The attack was widely reported on social media, triggering an avalanche of responses condemning the attackers’ impunity and arrogance.
Referring to the assailants, Hashemi had explicitly regretted, “Iran is run by these rogue elements, mobs, and thugs, today.”
Her campaign for women’s right to ride bicycles, attending gatherings with her former inmates, including Faran Hosami, a Baha’i, and courageously visiting the tomb of the former king of Iran, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in Cairo are a few examples of cases that dragged Faezeh into the limelight.
Faezeh, who supported the incumbent Hassan Rouhani in his second bid for the presidency, has not lost the chance to present her disappointment over the absence of women in ministerial positions, in Rouhani’s new cabinet.
“President Rouhani should be held responsible for the absence of women in his new cabinet,” she said. “Probably more than 50 percent of those who voted for Rouhani are women. Ignoring such a fact and disregarding women’s absolutely reasonable demands are unfair.”
Injustice against Iranian women is not limited to their omission from cabinet positions, she told Shahrvand.
“I have always asked why there is no female representative to the Expediency Discernment Council, why there are no female deans managing Iranian universities, and so many more similar questions,” she said.
Hashemi’s father was unquestionably one of the pillars of Iran since the 1979 revolution who acted as the main decision maker in the political drama to install current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the successor of the founder of the regime, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Hashemi Rafsanjani continued to be a major player in Iranian politics, at times, only second to Khamenei. His power also brought with it allegations of corruption and a vast wealth the family seemed to have amassed. This was later used by Rafsanjani’s political enemies.
After the 2009 controversial presidential elections, the hardliners turned against Rafsanjani, for his support of the Green Movement. His younger son, Mehdi was accused of corruption and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is still behind bars.
Rafsanjani died on January 8 of a heart attack at age 82, reportedly while swimming in his private pool. Since then, his death has been a base for conspiracy theorists. Their main question is why he was allowed to swim in relatively cold weather in a pool where CCTV cameras were turned off and none of his bodyguards was present.
Moreover, skeptics wonder why an autopsy was never allowed.
One of Hashemi’s brothers, Mehdi, is still behind bars after being sentenced to 10 years in 2015 for alleged financial corruption.
Her elder brother, Mohsen, was recently elected president of Tehran’s City Council.