Rouhani Slams Officials' 'Vow of Silence' in Face of Protests


Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that officials were failing to respond effectively to mounting popular protests, in part because they are being threatened by unnamed behind-the-scenes forces.

Recent weeks have seen social media filled with videos and reports of protests, but since they are barely covered by domestic media and access is restricted for foreign journalists, they have been hard to verify.

They include protests by farmers over water shortages in Isfahan; by ethnic Arabs over the treatment of minorities in the southern province of Khuzestan; and over administrative reforms in the southwestern city of Kazeroon.

The videos appear to show these localised protests taking on broader slogans against the Islamic establishment, such as: "Our enemy is right here and falsely they say America is our enemy".

But in a wide-ranging speech carried on state television, Rouhani said officials were failing to respond and appeared to have taken "a vow of silence".

"As people haven't got enough information... as people don't see plans for the future, as people see the current problems, they may get upset and angry, come to the streets and cry out," he told senior officials in Tehran.

"(But) we speak little to the people. Our government managers have taken a vow of silence. I don't know who told them to. I don't know what they are scared of."

Rouhani said a major problem was that officials were being intimidated by unnamed "supervisory bodies".

He did not name them, but Rouhani has previously clashed with the powerful Revolutionary Guards and the conservative-dominated judiciary over their outsized role in politics and the economy.

"When in the morning (an official) is going to work, somebody sends him a text message, another calls him, another threatens him... the country cannot be run like this," he said.

In the past month, Tehran's reformist mayor Mohammad-Ali Najafi and the deputy head of the environment agency Kaveh Madani both quit their posts following pressure from hardliners, though Najafi claimed he left for health reasons.

"Don't pay attention to some letters, some threats. If you are scared to respond, send them to me," Rouhani said.

Comments 6
Thumb s.o.s 21 April 2018, 13:38

I recently had a long conversation with an Iranian living in Tehran, He's convinced that sooner rather than later , religious fanatics are going to be in big doodoo because the people are tired of them.

Missing hajjradwan 21 April 2018, 15:38

I was in Iran a couple of month ago, work takes me there regularly. I know what you were told for a fact. History is on their side and it'll happen sooner than you think. If fact as soon as the so called supreme leader passes and young one is elected. Relics such as Khamenei are stuck in a time warp. He's not even a Marja3 and shouldn't be SL to begin with. The constitution was amended for his benefit. That's why Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussain Fadlallah, a true Marja3, and others like him broke it off with Iran. There is new young progressive blood coming up the ranks of the Majles of Experts and once the relic is gone change will happened. Iran is in bad economic shape sorely needing foreign investments. This'll never happen with the relic in charge. Most everyone in Iran, except the relic, know it. BTW "the relic" is what they call him in private.

Thumb s.o.s 21 April 2018, 15:48

I like the Relic denomination, it suits them perfectly. People want to live, party have some freedom... the Iranians are brave people, they’ll overcome their Mullaz and Ayatollaz. I would want to be a Hizbalot terrorist once Iranian cuts their fundings.

Missing greatpierro 22 April 2018, 10:47

The Islamist establishment continues to exist and may be reinforced with the continued colonialist agression Iran has been suffering since ages. When Obama relieved the pressure on Iran and signed the nuclear deal, the reformist won the elections all over Iran. Now with Trump threatening Iran every two seconds the hardliners will almost certainly be reinvigorated.

Thumb janoubi 22 April 2018, 11:11

naive if you think the reformists won the elections because Obama relieved the pressure. It was the Ayatollah's decision to have Rouhani elected in order to show the West a so-called more moderate face of Iran.

The only way to deal with this criminal regime is more pressure, more sanctions, and if necessary military force. The people of Iran must feel the pain of having a terrorist sectarian evil regime as that of the mullahs in order to initiate real change.

Thumb janoubi 22 April 2018, 11:14

Add to this farce the fact that Iran under the so called reformists and moderates has actively engaged in wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and tried to destabilize regimes across the Arab world.