Grandson of Iran's Khomeini excluded from elections

The elder Khomeini, a firebrand conservative who railed against pervasive Western influence, died in 1989.

AFP| Updated: Jan 26, 2016, 22:24 PM IST

Tehran: Iran has excluded Hassan Khomeini, grandson of the founder of the Islamic republic and a cleric with ties to reformist politicians, from contesting elections to the country's powerful Assembly of Experts.

The decision, revealed by Khomeini's son on Tuesday, was taken by the Guardian Council, a conservative-dominated committee that decides who can run for public office.

Khomeini was among hundreds of candidates ruled out of standing for the assembly, which monitors the work of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

With an eight-year term of office, its 88 members may also be responsible for picking the 76-year-old's eventual successor.

The rejected candidates have until Saturday to appeal. Voting for the assembly will take place on February 26, the same day as parliamentary polls.

Following Iran's recent nuclear deal with world powers led by the United States, both elections are seen as crucial to shaping the country's future direction.

Khomeini is the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution that ended the reign of US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The elder Khomeini, a firebrand conservative who railed against pervasive Western influence, died in 1989.

He remains revered - his image present in every public office, on Iranian banknotes and on countless murals in Tehran and other cities.

His grandson's candidacy for the assembly would have been the first time since the late leader's death that the famous family name would have been returned to politics.

At 43, Khomeini is significantly younger than most of the current members of Assembly.

But he was not verified as having sufficient religious competence to contest the ballot, his son said on his Instagram account, which has 199,000 followers.

In a post including a picture of his father studying religious texts, Ahmad Khomeini said the Guardian Council verdict came despite "testimony from dozens of religious authorities".

"It became definite last night (yesterday)" that his father had not been classed as "mojtahed", or sufficiently learned in Islam, to take a place on the assembly, he wrote.

A member of the Guardian Council said on January 5 that Khomeini had failed to attend a qualifying exam.

But in his post Khomeini's 18-year-old son cast doubt on that being the grounds for his father's exclusion.

"In my opinion the reason for non-verification is clear to everyone, especially given that some others' ijtehad ("knowledge" in Farsi) has been verified without them sitting for the exam," he wrote.

The Assembly of Experts is comprised solely of clerics. A final list of candidates is expected on February 9.