Prominent Political Activist Faezeh Hashemi Barred From Speaking at Rouhani Campaign Event
Speeches by reformist politicians and supporters of incumbent president Hassan Rouhani have been cancelled ahead of the May 19, 2017 presidential election, including two by former member of Parliament Faezeh Hashemi.
Hashemi, an outspoken political activist and the daughter of the late former President Akbar Hashemi Rafasanjani, was prevented from speaking at the opening of Rouhani’s campaign office in Arak, 148 miles south of Tehran, on April 30.
Local security authorities told her she was not allowed to speak due to a prior conviction. After the ceremony was over, she grabbed the microphone and gave a brief talk.
“The first thing I said was that the ban was illegal and based on false presumptions,” said Hashemi after event.
Hashemi was also prevented from speaking at Rouhani’s campaign office in the southern port of Bandar Abbas on May 2.
“(My opponents) are being narrow-minded. They do all sorts of things themselves, but they won’t follow the law when it comes to their opponents,” she said. “This ban is illegal. If you want to run the elections correctly, you must put a stop to these actions.”
Hashemi, who represented Tehran as an MP from 1996 to 2000, continued: “Opponents want to stop speeches by politicians who can make an impact because they are worried about the masses. But their actions always have the reverse effect.”
“A lot of people showed up at the event in Arak and if I had given a speech, I would not have gotten as much attention as what the ban generated,” she said.
“Now the news has spread and people are paying attention,” she added.
Reporting on the opening of Rouhani’s campaign office in Arak, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) quoted Hashemi speaking about her influential father, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died in January 2017.
“(Rafsanjani’s) message was that the people should participate in the elections more than ever,” she said. “Greater participation will result in a stronger victory and empower Rouhani to serve the people with greater authority.”
Hashemi, the former publisher of Iran’s first women’s newspaper, Zan (banned in 1999), was imprisoned for six months in 2012 for “propaganda against the state” and barred from political and media activities for five years for engaging in peaceful political activism.
In March 2017, she was given a six-month prison sentence for “spreading falsehoods,” “disturbing public opinion” and “propaganda against the state.” A final ruling is pending upon appeal.
A speech by current Vice President of Legal Affairs Majid Ansari on May 2 was also cancelled, according to Sajjad Dehghan, president of the pro-reform students’ union at the Islamic Azad University in Kerman.
“If we had gone ahead with the program there was going to be mayhem with opponents going on a rampage,” Dehghan told ISNA. “As a student organization, our hands are truly tied, so we had to cancel Hojatoleslam Ansari’s speech out of respect for him and his (clerical) garb.”