A prominent Iranian presidential candidate, known as Sheikh of the reformists, vowed Sunday to improve the situation of non-Persian ethnic minorities that make up the bulk of Iran’s population, promising to stack them in his administration if elected.
Sheikh Mehdi Karroubi, the secretary of “etimad meli” (National Confidence) vowed to bring justice to Iran’s minority communities of include Arabs, Kurds, Azurbajis, Baluchi, Turks and Sunni Muslims in what observers saw as the rise of minorities in Iran since the election of Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
“Iran is a country of multiple ethnic minorities and religious sects who actually make up the majority of its population,” Karroubi stated his election manifesto adding that prejudice and injustice against such groups shake the unity and solidarity of the nation.
Karroubi, who also promised to eradicate poverty and deprivation in the areas minorities inhabit, went further and called for the revision of the Iranian Constitution to institutionalize local parliaments for each minority and to grant it power to directly elect state governors who are currently elected by state authorities.
Karroubi stressed the Article 15 of the constitution, which stipulates the teaching of minority languages in the areas of minorities as a basic right and its use in local newspapers, magazines, and the media. There are eight main languages in Iran alongside dozens of dialects.
Unlike the incumbent president, he is in favor of holding dialogue with the international community provided these don't conflict with national interests
Situation of minorities
Non-Persian ethnic groups make up 58 percent of the population and have faced many challenges since the coming to power of Ahmadinejad, whom the opposition accused of shutting down many civil society institutions and minority newspapers and media that were founded during the rule of Khatami,
Observers say several factors combine to shift the role of national/ethnic minorities to become a major player in the upcoming presidential election. Attention to minorities boosts the chances of candidates such as Mir Hussein Mousavi of Turkish Azerbaijani origins and Sheikh Karoubi of Lurish ethnic origins.
Iran experts said Mir Hussein Mousavi, another presidential candidate, will enable Azerbaijan to obtain a majority of the Kurds and Lurs, Arabs, Baluch. Mousavi also vowed to ensure national rights of minorities in the Constitution, focusing on the issue of teaching minority languages in addition to Persian in schools.
(Translated from Arabic by Marwa Awad)