Two prominent pro-reform activists and former political prisoners say Velayate-e Faqih or the Governance of the Supreme Leader in Iran is not compatible with a republican system.
In a statement published on Sunday, September 30, Abolfazl Qadiani and Alireza Rajaee have insisted that Velayat-e Faqih was a deviation from people’s demands at the time of the 1979 revolution that ended the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Qadiani, a former regime insider, has recently called on Khamenei to step down, and Rajaee, a prominent reformist journalist and a "nationalist-religious" activist, suffered a serious illness and underwent invasive surgical operations as a result of prison wardens' negligence while he was spending six years in custody for anti-regime activity.
“The Islamic Republic currently clambering in a sea of crisis and pretending to be in control and enjoying self-confidence will never heal even one of the thousands of ills it is suffering from,” Qadiani and Rajaee said in a statement published by several news outlets, including Kalemeh, a website supporting the Green Movement of Iran.
Insisting that the Islamic Republic is on its deathbed, the two have admitted that Iran’s current tribulations have older origins, rooted in the early post-revolution days.
The Islamic Republic, from its very beginning, fell victim to deviations when the concept of republicanism and its genuine meaning was misconstrued.
.Lambasting the amendment to the first version of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, Qadyani, 73, and Rajaee, 55, have argued, “By adding an article concerning the rule of the Shi’ite jurisprudence [Velayat-e Faqih] to the constitution, the national will was ignored and enslaved.”
Article 110 of the Islamic Republic’s Constitution, which gives the Supreme Leader unlimited powers has always been a controversial issue since the downfall of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Since then, whoever dares to question that article is ruthlessly punished by the numerous security and intelligence organs.
The signatories of the recent statement are among hundreds, if not thousands of people who had experienced life behind bars for criticizing the Supreme Leader and his unlimited powers.
Qadiani and Rajaee have maintained that a mighty oligarch has monopolized power in Iran, while the republican system is undermined in the country.
Abolfazl Qadiani, a senior member of the reformist Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Organization, was charged with “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “propaganda against the system”, and arrested during widespread protests against the re-election of former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
He was initially sentenced to five years. Later, in 2012 he was first sentenced again to one year, which was later changed to two years plus forty lashes.
Qadiani had harshly criticized the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, previously, once in a letter from his prison cell in 2012, and once again in an open letter in April 2018, when he likened Khamenei to Joseph Goebbels, a German Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. He accused Khamenei of telling “big lies” about freedom of speech in Iran.
Until 2012 Qadiani still directly was sending letters to Khamenei and calling on him to correct his path, but later, he addressed the nation and political groups demanding a change in the country’s constitution that would put an end to the role of Velayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Supreme Shi’ite Jurisconsult) officially known as Supreme Leader.
According to Qadyani, the Iranian Constitution, allows a change that would turn the Islamic Republic into a democratic system with no figurehead such as the Supreme Leader.
In an article published by Kalemeh, on Saturday, July 7, Qadiani explicitly said Iran’s Supreme Leader, “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei should step down as a final solution to the Islamic republic’s problems.”
Qadyani’s public call for Khamenei to step down was interpreted as one of the most unexpected manifestations of how Khamenei’s rule is losing its base of support among those who were once fervent devotees of the system.
Alireza Rajaee, journalist and prominent member of Nationalist-Religious Alliance was also detained during the uprising against the official outcome of the presidential election in 2009.
Charged with “Propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s system”, Rajaee was placed behind bars for more than six years. Rajaee lost one of his eyes in custody for being deprived of having access to medical facilities.