Al-Monitor | : The election of Sepanta Niknam, a Zoroastrian, as a city council member in the central Iranian town of Yazd has become the topic of hot debate on the country’s political stage. While the Guardian Council says religious minorities cannot be representatives of Muslim-majority constituencies, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani and the parliament think otherwise.
It should be noted that Niknam has already served one full term as city councilor in Yazd from 2013-2017. However, following his re-election in the May 19 municipal polls, a defeated conservative candidate filed a complaint on the grounds of Niknam’s religion, arguing that it was against Iran’s constitution for a member of a religious minority to make decisions on behalf of the whole population of a Muslim-majority city.
The complaint prompted the Court of Administrative Justice to issue an order suspending Niknam’s membership to the city council, basing its decision on an earlier letter by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the ultra-conservative head of the Guardian Council, which is the clerical body that vets candidates for elections.
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