Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, has decided against running for the presidency after a meeting with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to his brother Yaser. Khamenei reportedly told Hassan Khomeini that his candidacy was “not prudent” under the prevailing conditions in Iran.
Hassan “was hesitantly consulting and studying the question [of running] until today when he met with the Leader, as it had been scheduled,” Yaser Khomeini was quoted as saying by Jamaran news agency, which is affiliated with the Khomeini family. “During the meeting, the Supreme Leader said that his candidacy for the election was not prudent. He added that that he sees Haj Hassan as a son and asked him not to run in this race under the current conditions.”
Yaser Khomeini said his brother’s chances in the presidential election had been rising in recent months because, he claimed, he was the only person who can unite Iran under the slogan “All Together” just as Ayatollah Khomeini had done.
Yaser added that the Supreme Leader had only expressed his opinion as “advice” but that his brother now had no intention of running for president.
According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, presidential candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council before they can run. But since Khomeini’s death in 1989, and Ali Khamenei’s succession as Supreme Leader, few candidates have ventured into the field without a nod from Khamenei.
Iran’s next presidential election is scheduled for June 18 and, after serving two consecutive terms, President Rouhani cannot stand again in this election. Moderates and reformist in the Islamic Republic have been looking for a candidate to support and Hassan Khomein was considered was one of their leading choices.
In a speech on April 9, Hassan Khomeini had said that to solve Iran’s problems a “passionate” election “is more important than daily bread.”
In 2016, the Guardian Council disqualified Hassan Khomeini from running for the Assembly of Experts, a body that is responsible, at least in principle, for supervising the work of the Supreme Leader and for selecting his successor.
Attempts by Iran’s hardliners to humiliate him began with that candidacy for the Assembly of Experts. The Council’s disqualification of Khomeini was not only a public rejection of the candidate’s bid for election but of his standing as a religious scholar.
Hassan Khomeini has been referred to as an ayatollah and an Islamic scholar for years. But to join the Assembly of Experts he would have been expected to pass a written religious test, along with other candidates, despite having received the endorsements of several religious authorities in the holy city of Qom. A number of Guardian Council members questioned Khomeini’s knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and believed he should be disqualified as he had not taken the test.