Influential Iranian Calls For Religious Minorities To Be Barred From Local Elections

The head of Iran's powerful Guardians Council has called for the country's religious minorities to be prevented from running in city council elections in May.

In a letter published by the semiofficial ILNA news agency on April 18, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said that religious minorities should not be allowed to run in Muslim-majority cities,

claiming it would violate Islamic law and go against comments by the founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The Guardians Council, which vets candidates for parliamentary and presidential elections, is not in charge of approving hopefuls for city council elections.

A committee of lawmakers is in charge of reviewing the qualifications of those running, but observers say Jannati’s ruling could influence the review process.

An official with Iran's Interior Ministry said in late March that 287,425 people had registered for the city council elections, which will be held simultaneously with the May 19 presidential election.

Iran's constitution officially recognizes Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians as religious minorities.

The Baha'i faith is not recognized in Iran and its members face state persecution.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, ILNA and PressTV