Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Fundamentalist Presidential Candidate List Grows From 5 to 11

Iran Daily: "Real Concerns

By Soheil Mohajer

Public enthusiasm for the June 17 presidential race is presently not matched by the extensive activism of political parties which, at times, even transcends the norms.
Certain happenings are noteworthy. A few days after the deadline set by fundamentalists for introducing a single candidate, more candidates entered the fray from this camp--increasing from 5 to 11.
The configuration of the fundamentalist Council for Coordinating Forces of Islamic Revolution was also changed. In view of the explanations given by the council for the increase, many conservatives are apparently unaware of the justification for this move. While a newspaper run by one of the new members of the council says the move will help achieve unity while maintaining pluralism, another newspaper run by another councilor reflected the remarks of Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the second vice speaker and a prominent conservative. Bahonar simply said that certain people are occasionally invited to the committee and this is normal.
Mehr News Agency, which is very close to the fundamentalists, claimed more new candidates have been added to the previous list of conservatives while other sources close to the fundamentalists reported that six new nominees have appeared on the scene.
At any rate, the fundamentalists have not adopted the right approach for achieving solidarity. The recent newcomers have not clarified their electoral platforms either.
During the past couple of months, two tragic incidents saddened millions of Iranians. The first one pertained to the catastrophic death of 13 school students in Safilan, Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari province, and the second to the death of about 70 worshipers in Tehran’s Arg Mosque, both caused by fire. In the first incident, which was in a way linked to the government, the conservatives spared no efforts to prove that government managers are incompetent. The conservatives even focused on the prices of cars of local officials to claim that reformers have violated the rights of deprived areas like Safilan by not equipping rural schools with basic facilities while personally driving expensive cars.
However, when the second incident took place in a large mosque in Tehran, there was no fundamentalist uproar! Perhaps the fundamentalist officials do not interfere in the affairs of mosques and hence cannot be interrogated. First of all, an organization affiliated to the fundamentalists supervises the affairs of mosques. Secondly in recent months, there was news about another similar institution rendering financial assistance to religious groups and centers. The question is if public funds are allocated for religious activities, shouldn’t equipping mosques with basic safety requirements be a top priority?
In the Arg Mosque incident, the firefighters made great efforts, but if the Fire Department and organizations that monitor the activities of mosques had been run by the government or reformers, then the same kind of remarks made after the Safilan incident would have been heard! This is only one example of the double standards of fundamentalists.
There are many other cases that we could bring to the attention of the people about fundamentalists who frequently mouth attractive slogans. This can help the people learn about their real concerns, which is to remain in power.
Fundamentalists could start by explaining to the public the reason for raising the number of their presidential candidates and for changing the configuration of the Council for Coordinating Forces of the Islamic Revolution. Aren’t people considered insiders by the fundamentalists?"