Gharazi: The Absurd Candidate of Iran’s Elections

A look at Mohammad Gharazi, Veteran Revolutionary and His Return to the Political Spotlight.

Mohammad Gharazi, Veteran Revolutionary and His Return to the Political Spotlight

Mohammad Gharazi is a veteran Islamic revolutionary. At the dawn of the Islamic revolution in Iran, he fulfilled his aspirations through close relations to Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder and late leader of the Islamic Republic. Gharazi played an active role in pre-revolution developments and he was among the few individuals who accompanied Khomeini in his return to Iran.

When residing in Paris, Mr. Gharazi had apparently been a regular associate at the residence of late Khomeini. In one of his interviews, Gharazi has claimed “I had different responsibilities in Imam’s (Khomeini) residence, most of the time I was serving as Imam’s French translator — unlike other translators such as Mr. Ghotbzadeh and Yazdi who were not living in his residence. They were visitors and resided in a hotel close to Neauphle-le-Chateau. In Neauphle-le-Chateau, I was a guard and translator, I was making eggs, meat stews and I was there 24/7.”

Young Gharazi

It is this history that has often made Gharazi feel as an integral part of the ruling regime’s portrait, supplying him with grandiose ideas and sky high aspirations in the realm of politics in Iran.

Gharazi’s proximity to the highest levels of power in Iran have worked to elevate him to key ministerial posts, but it seemed that ordinary Iranians never took his aspirations for higher positions seriously. While he has frequently been nominated in different elections, people have been more inclined to make jokes and write satire about his political life than to support him in his bids for various positions.

After a long absence, Gharazi unexpectedly reappeared in the political arena when he was qualified by the ultra orthodox hardline Guardian Council and stepped into the presidential race in 2013. Although Gharazi was far from winning the election, he provided endless material for jokes on the election trail.

Gharazi and fellow presidential hopefuls in 2013

Most recently, although he has not been at the centre of the political decision making circles, his detached remarks and unpredictable moves in the political arena have once again brought him to the centre of media attention.

Currently, while Iran is preparing to hold two important elections, for the Majlis (Parliament) and Assembly of Experts,in 2016, Mohammad Gharazi has once again emerged in the political scene and has registered to be a candidate in both elections.

His decision to register his name in both elections in 2016 created a wave of reactions in the social media sites such as twitter.

Danial Behzadi, a twitter user wrote:

“I still believe that #Gharazi, instead of going to the location for #Majlis registration has mistakenly gone to the location that the authorities are registering the #Assembly of Experts candidates. He did not want to be embarrassed so he decided to register his name any way!”

On Dec. 20, 2015, Mohammad Khoiniha, another twitter user writes:

“Gharazi assumes this is a lottery, he has registered his name for both Majlis (Assembly) hoping his name comes out of either of the ballots! But I would suggest you should vote for him, especially for the (Assembly of) Experts (election), after all he is an expert!”

Gharazi was further mocked for having registered for the Assemply of Experts elections, without any clerical experience- a stringent requirement for this election. In response to questions about this odd move, Gharazi has said:

“when I asked the authorities, they reminded me that in order to register for the Assembly of Experts election, the candidates should not necessarily be a cleric, I thought I had been a Shiite believer for over 60 years, it is an opportunity and I may have a shot in the Assembly of Experts election and will participate in the election once I am qualified”.

In an interview with the Iranian press, Gharazi claimed “I do not need these (political party or faction), I get my power from the people, and we should not lean on power, but live with people’s vote.”

In another video clip during his interview with Reza Rashidpour, host of a controversial internet TV program produced in Iran, Mohammad Gharazi comments about his election rivals:

“Mohsen Rezaie is a military man but he never learned militarism, Saeed Jalili has no political capability but has stepped into politics, Mohamad Reza Aref is a man who is trying to be politician, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf is a man who tries to be a serviceman, my recommendation to him is not to waste people’s money, Akbar Velayati is a good friend who has been at the service of Agha (Ayat. Khamenei), Hassan Rouhani is trying hard to be a politician.”

In another part of his comments, Mr. Gharazi has said “Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is someone who thinks he owns the country,…, Javad Zarif (FM) is the product of Minister of Foreign Affairs in Islamic Republic of Iran, he is accountable and efficient, Mohammad Reza Shajarian is a man who embarks on social projects without having a social background.”

A gesture, famously associated with Gharazi. He is old and hard of hearing!

Gharazi’s unusual media appearances have worked to keep in visible in the public eye, keeping some public attention on this unlikely candidate.

Based on a review of the tweets between Dec. 15, 2015 to Jan. 21, 2016 close to 1357 tweets have been published about Mohammad Gharazi in this period.

Data provided by Crimson Hexagon

Interestingly, he is also aware of his so-called appeal. In his recent interview with a Farsi internet program, Mr. Gharazi acknowledged it and seems to somehow make the best of such media attention to once again attract people vote and live with it! In one of his interviews, Mohammad Gharazi had repeated one of the jokes about his presidential bid and said “Mr. Rouhani has invited Gharazi and all his voters to his house”, an irony of his very few voters!

It is true that Gharazi has never hit the political jackpot in recent years, and that he most probably will not be able to transform his luck in near future. He has usually tried to hold different, strange, awkward views that reflect his ambitious goals. Compared to other Iranian politicians, Gharazi has always campaigned as an independent figure, who never identifies with the left or right, and is therefore an easy target of criticism.

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