Leader of Sunni minority in Majlis expresses concern about Ahmadinejad’s Reelection
Saturday 6 June 2009
Rooz spoke with the leader of the Sunni minority faction in Iran’s national assembly, the Majlis, Jalal Mahmoudzadeh, the representative from Mahabad. He declared that “Kurdish and Sunni representatives in the Majlis will be voting for reformist candidates,” adding that “concerns over incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection cannot be hidden.”
Rooz : Mr. Mahmoudzadeh, what is the official position of the Kurdish and Sunni representatives in the Majlis on the upcoming presidential elections?
Jalal Mahmoudzadeh: As a faction representing the Sunnis in the Majlis, we have very specific expectations from the new president. These can be categorized into four groups: Economic, political, cultural and social. We have announced that any candidate who supports our rights and demands, and who pays attention to our needs the most , while at the same time who puts the un-implemented articles of the constitution relating to the rights of minorities will certainly receive our votes in the upcoming election. We shall support the candidate who does not ignore the Sunni citizens of this country and who promises to use Sunnis in the senior, intermediate and mid level management. We will support any one who promises to diminish the national and religious bias against us. For example, there are over a million and half Sunni residents in the capital of Iran, the greater Tehran, who do not have even one mosque of their own.
Rooz: Have any of the candidates specifically supported your calls?
Mahmoudzadeh: We have met with both Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mousavi. They are closest to our demands. Mr. Karroubi is closer to the demands of the Kurds and Mousavi follows suit. It of course appears that Mr. Mousavi has a better chance to win the race and the Sunni minority group in the Majlis is leaning towards supporting him.
Rooz: Even some of the Kurdish opposition political groups who has boycotted earlier elections are now calling for people to participate this time, and have implicitly supported Mr. Karroubi’s programs. Why?
Mahmoudzadeh: This is an important issue and it shows that Mr. Karroubi’s statements and programs are closer to the interests of the minorities. I think boycotting the elections does not solve our problems and is in fact against our interests. Even if we gain the minimum through participation, it is better than getting nothing. We are not saying the current candidates are extremely good. You too know that as Kurds and Sunnis, we only have the right to vote, not be candidates, and this I believe is unjust and un-democratic. But even under the circumstances, we can be content with accomplishing even the minimum, and therefore we must participate in the election and vote for any of the candidates whose views and programs are closest to our demands.
Rooz: At the same time, what is your view and those of other Kurdish representatives in the Majlis on the performance of the ninth (current) administration and the possibility of Mr. Ahmadinejad being re-elected? Some Kurdish civil and political activists have expressed their concern about the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad.
Mahmoudzadeh: Concern about his re-election is real and cannot be denied or hidden. The reality is that social, political and cultural activists have suffered pressure in respect to civil, political, and press freedoms exerted by the ninth administration and we have witnessed the closure of publications, journals and news outlets for writers and thinkers in place thus limiting such forums and completing closing some. On the other hand, during Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presidency we also saw his administration’s efforts to take control of Sunni religious schools. This issue has pained Sunni citizens to the heart and we as Sunni minority representatives have stood against laws on this from the very first day till today and fortunately this has not been implemented in any town as yet and we will not allow it to be implemented in the future. This and other pressures on the Sunnis have given rise to concerns among this minority. The concerns regarding Mr. Ahmadinejad’s re-election are over these issues. Which is also why Kurdish citizens have shown the green light to reformist candidates.
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