Iranian president Rouhani orders investigation after insult

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati told to ‘stop insulting people’ by presidential candidate Ali Akbar Velayati after insult

Iranian media are reporting that the president, Hassan Rouhani, has ordered the country’s powerful Islamic Guardian Council to investigate after the religious judge leading elections threatened to slap a senior official in his public address.

The reported incident happened on Thursday when the Shia imam-appointed governor of the city of Qom, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, said: “He [Rouhani] says he is the best president and he comes from the most honoured family … Maybe the executive power should be limited to the person who is directly in the family.”

Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, intervened by telling Jannati to “stop insulting people”.

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On Saturday morning, Rouhani called up Jannati on national television to ask him to clarify if he was shouting or making fun of the president. “Me and my friends love you and I am not his friend, but that is of no importance, but I consider you a leader and I respect you and I think you are a nice person … Please do not be concerned,” the state news agency, IRNA, quoted Rouhani as saying.

During the final presidential election campaign in 2012, Rouhani became emotional when Jannati insulted him as the judge summoned him to appear before the council to defend his credentials after it had refused to register his candidacy.

The governing system of Iran is a complex and deeply hierarchical one, with the supreme leader, known as the the supreme guide, and other senior religious figures holding absolute power over the state.

The Guardian Council then chooses the candidates to appear in the elections to Iran’s parliament and the country’s supreme national security council.

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