A Mercedes-Benz is at the center of a controversy surrounding the upcoming Iranian presidential elections.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council which vets potential candidates, made controversial comments alluding to Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s wealth and car on Friday.
At Tehran Friday prayers, Jannati, who’s also one of the handful of temporary Tehran Friday prayer leaders appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, dedicated part of his sermon to explain the qualifications a president must have. He said: “A president must live a simple life, and this simple life must start with him, meaning his house, his personal belongings, and the car he rides must be simple. A person who speaks of living a simple life but rides in a Benz doesn’t understand the people’s pain when they’re hungry and doesn’t sympathize with the lower classes.”
Jannati’s comments were seen as a direct attack on Rafsanjani, who was driven to the Minister of Interior building to register his presidential bid in a Mercedes-Benz last week. Rafsanjani, one of the wealthiest men in Iran, has had his wealth used against him the last two times he ran for public office in parliamentary elections in 2000 and presidential elections in 2005, according to Al-Monitor. Both times he was not elected into office.
According to Al-Monitor, conservative Tehran parliament member Ali Motahhari, who has a penchant for making controversial statements himself, told a group of reporters: “I don’t think that Rafsanjani’s [Mercedes-] Benz costs any more than Jannati’s Peugeot.”
He continued: “If some officials ride in a [Mercedes-] Benz this is up to their security services to decide, and in reality these [Mercedes-] Benzes that some of these gentleman ride in are 20 to 30 years old and the statements that have been made seem naïve.”
Motahhari has been rumored to become Rafsanjani’s campaign spokesman if Rafsanjani is on the list of the Guardian Council’s approved candidates next Tuesday.