Iran Clerical Rift Widens as Rafsanjani Relatives Arrested

Struggle Among Iran Clerics Bursts Into the Open

Former Iranian President and current chairman of the Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been an outspoken advocate of Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s since before the election, and it is unsurprising that he and his family have taken an active role in the post-election protests.

There was a time when Rafsanjani’s position would’ve made him and his family virtually untouchable, but as the rift between the more conservative clerics and the reformist ones continues to widen, it seems no one is immune to the potential crackdown, and several members of Rafsanjani’s family have been arrested for “provoking unrest.”

According to Iran’s state media, most of his relatives have already been released, but his daughter who has played a very public role in some of the protests, remains in custody. Prior to her arrest it had been reported that she and one of her brothers had been barred from leaving the country.

The Assembly of Experts, of which Rafsanjani is the chairman, is in charge of supervising the actions of the nation’s Supreme Leader. Though in practice the group is empowered to dismiss the Supreme Leader and potentially overturn his decisions, in practice they have never challenged his rule. If the unrest in the nation continues, it seems almost inevitable that the clashes in the streets will turn into a constitutional crisis where Rafsanjani’s influence is put to the test against Ayatollah Khamenei.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of