Reports in Western media about the victory of a moderate cleric in Iran’s presidential election have raised expectations for change in the Islamic republic, but local Christians doubt the next president, Hassan Rouhani, will be able to alleviate Christian persecution.
“In your Western media, the candidates are divided into conservatives and reformers, as if there is a choice, but let me tell you this: there is no choice. All of the candidates are from Ayatollah Khamenei’s team,” Open Doors ministry said in a statement, quoting an Iranian Christian believer.
Rouhani, who was Iran’s nuclear negotiator during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami before that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, can be expected to have a say only in the country’s economic affairs and a few other civil matters, while matters that concern national security are solely the domain of Iran’s supreme leader Khamenei.
“The question is can Rouhani make a change?” the Open Doors source asked. “At least he is an intellectual, who graduated in the United Kingdom and has called for less confrontational relations with the West. I guess we just have to see in order to know, according to Iranian standards, how moderate he is,” the local believer said.
“I really don’t know what will be next,” the source added. “I pray for a lasting joy for all Iranians, freedom for prisoners of conscience, comfort for the victims of political violence, justice, liberty, equality and prosperity for the future of our land.”
The United States was prompt to acknowledge the election results during the weekend. “We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard,” the White House said in a statement, following the victory of Rouhani over conservative hardliners eight years after the repressive rule of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.