As well as being Iran’s president for eight years (1989-1997), history also recognizes Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as an architect of the Iranian Revolution, the diplomat who persuaded Ayatollah Khomeini to end the eight year war with Iraq, and the king-maker who convinced his colleagues in 1989 that Ali Khamenei should be the next Supreme Leader. Now his daughter, Faezeh, is in prison for ‘spreading anti-state propaganda’ during the 2009 presidential elections. His son, Mehdi, has just returned from exile, and he is also expected to face charges concerning those elections.
Though 78 years old, Hashemi Rafsanjani is still a man of considerable influence. He is chairman of the Expediency Council, and was seen at the side of the Supreme Leader during the recent summit for the Non-Aligned Movement. However, he has enemies, especially among the ruling right wing conservatives led by President Ahmadinejad. They loath Rafsanjani’s pragmatism and his seeming support for the Reformists in 2009. It is very possible the imprisonment of his daughter for six months is partly due to this hostility. The fact, though, that the Supreme Leader is still ready to be seen with Rafsanjani means he probably wants to keep his options open - if the right wing agenda starts to come apart.
Christians have suffered under both Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad. At least six Christians were killed during Rafsanjani’s presidency, including Rev Soodmand who was executed in Mashad prison in December 1990. Hundreds have endured arbitrary arrest and robust interrogation under Ahmadinejad. So it is difficult to know how to pray about this on-going feud between these two men, which will certainly impact Iran’s institutions and the church. May God give us wisdom.
We can, though, pray for Faezeh Rafsanjani in prison. It is possible she will meet Christians there. It is also possible that she will come out with great compassion for those unfairly sentenced, like Farshid Fathi, and will campaign on their behalf.
• Faezeh Rafsanjani to meet God in prison
• Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to seek the living God
• Cause of Christ to profit from political feuding