MP criticizes vice president for misleading remarks

August 7, 2010

TEHRAN – MP Ahmad Tavakoli has criticized the president’s chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei for making misleading remarks.

“The misleading remarks made by Rahim Mashaei concerning propagation of ‘Iranian school of thought rather than the Islamic school of thought’ are the products of the illusions coming out of a sick mind,” Tavakoli stated.
“These remarks are in direct conflict with the Iranian Constitution and Iran’s interests,” he added.
""Such mentality betrays Islam and at the same time Iran itself… All those who are familiar with the Iranian history and geography are well aware that what has held various Iranian ethnic groups together is the religion of Islam and nothing else,” Tavakoli, a member of the Parliament principalist faction, explained.
Addressing a gathering of Iranian expats in Tehran on Wednesday, Mashaei made a number of controversial remarks which drew criticism from parliament lawmakers and Tehran Friday prayer leader.
He stated that “we should introduce the Iranian school of thought to the world.”
Mashaei holds a number of key positions in the sitting cabinet apart from being the president’s chief of staff. He is the vice president in the high council of the Iranians living abroad, the secretary of the administration cultural committee, the chairman of the administration working group on pilgrimage and Razavi culture.
Mashaei is also director of the coordination council for special free economic zones as well as a member of the administration economic commission.
Also on Friday, Tehran Friday prayer leader Ahmad Khatami described such remarks as “unacceptable” and against the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.
“Patriotism and devotion to one’s country is not the same as nationalism… Nationalism is against Islam, and moreover is against the soul and spirit of the Islamic Revolution,” Khatami stated.
Mashaei has been quite a controversial figure in the Iranian politics. His remarks and statements have drawn up uproar among conservative and principalists on various occasions.
In 2008 lawmakers demanded his resignation as director of the Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization over his comments on Israeli people.
His remarks received criticisms from clerics and conservative members of the Parliament.
Nonetheless, Mashaei never retracted his comments and he even received some cautious backing from President Ahmadinejad.
On 17 July 2009, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed Mashaei as his first vice president.
The appointment triggered further criticism among conservative politicians and clerics, forcing the president to back down and remove him as vice president.
However the president later appointed Mashaei as his chief of staff, abruptly dismissed Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i who had opposed the vice-presidential appointment, and threatened to dismiss Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Saffar Harandi in the final days of his first cabinet