Ali Motahari has condemned attempts by certain government officials to curtail freedom of speech, warning that he and his fellow MPs would impeach the interior minister if the current trend persisted.
Ali Motahari, a principlist Tehran MP, has called – in an open letter – on President Rouhani to order a stop to repeated cancellation of speeches and gatherings in different cities across the nation and halt obstructive measures by those who act on their own and above the law.
Motahari – together with Ahmad Tavakoli, Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, Najafgholi Habibi and Ebrahim Asgharzadeh – was to deliver a speech at a gathering dubbed “Government, Nation, Solidarity and Harmony” which was to be held by a university student association in Karaj on May 28.
According to the MP, the gathering was cancelled after the city’s Friday prayer leader, a military center and an MP representing Karaj showed opposition and began to issue threats. The MP also blamed the laxity, irresponsibility and acquiescence by the governor general of Alborz Province and the governor of Karaj for the cancellation.
They threatened if the gathering was held, what happened in Shiraz* would pale in comparison and that they would break our shin bones, Motahari said, adding that unfortunately the governor general and governor capitulated instead of dealing with law-breakers according to the letter of law.
Fararu, a news website released Motahari’s letter to the president on June 1. The following is the translation of excerpts of the missive:
Under Article 113 of the Constitution as president you are responsible for implementing the charter. Let me ask you, how long is the current situation going to last? And how long are some weak governors-general and governors going to obey what the revolution’s ignorant friends say instead of enforcing the law?
I know that more pressures are exerted on the governments which seek to implement the Constitution to the letter and that such threats and limitations were all absent in the previous government. I know that freedom of speech is now more limited than when the previous government was in office, but using this excuse to justify the status quo is far from acceptable.
People, who voted for you based on your slogans and promises, will not tolerate collaboration between executive officials and those who favor suffocation.
That the planned presence of some individual(s) in a gathering might trigger tension in a city, thus the meeting should be called off sounds acceptable. But for government officials and institutions to say that they would not allow a certain meeting to go ahead according to plan, and for the governor-general and governor to capitulate out of fear and violate the great ideal of the Islamic revolution – freedom of speech – it is not acceptable at all.
If incidents as such take place one more time, I – in spite of my strong belief that government should be supported – will join fellow ingenious deputies, who are the advocates of freedom of speech, to impeach the interior minister.
I hope the house will be put in order through your measures and orders before we decide to impeach the interior minister.
Ali Motahari was attacked by unknown individuals on March 9 after he left Shiraz Airport for a university in the southern city where he was scheduled to deliver a speech. The assailants pelted him with tomatoes, eggs and pieces of tiles, and smashed the rear screen of the cab carrying him. He sustained minor injuries and had to cut short his trip and return to Tehran.