Overwhelmed by his mammoth profile, his abundant achievements, and his legendary personal cult as a playmaker, Hashemi Rafsanjani’s friends and foes in Iranian media scene have lamented the loss of a great weight for the Islamic Revolution.
Iran, the mouthpiece of the administration, featured a photo of Hashemi Rafsanjani, waving both hands to supporters, beside white type on a black background, which reads “Iran in grief”. In the editorial, Culture Minister Reza Salehi Amiri calls Rafsanjani’s departure an ‘irreparable loss’.
Pro-reform newspapers seem to be little over the edge, idolizing him. Shargh daily runs a full-page cover featuring a wary looking Rafsanjani against a black backdrop, with the headline reading “Farewell, Man of Expediency”. In contrast, Etemad newspaper, which also dedicates it full front page, has published a photo of Rafsanjani, all smiles, calling him a “companion of Ruhollah [Khomeini]”. The second headline draws on the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s message of condolence, highlighting 59 years of companionship and camaraderie between the two.
Arman daily, known by many to be as the mouthpiece of the Hashemi house, called the news one that shook the world, while the headline compared him with Amir Kabir, a national hero and modernizer of the Qajar era. Shahrvand newspaper, the organ of Iran’s Red Crescent Organization, covered its front page with a photo of Hashemi Rafsanjani, walking with his back to the lens, in his customary gingerbread cloak, which has cornered the headline that calls Rafsanjani a “revolutionary reformer”. Ebtekar daily, run by lawmaker Mohammad Ali Vakili, also farewells Amir Kabir, while the editorial focuses on the coincidence of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s death with the eve of Amir Kabir’s assassination. Aftab Yazd features a more news-worthy photo of Rafsanjani’s children, Fatemeh and Mehdi, sitting in awe behind the body of their deceased father.
Moderate right outlets have hailed Hashemi Rafsanjani’s significance in the history of the Islamic Revolution. “Imam [Khomeini]’s Sincere Companion Joined Him,” reads Jomhouri Eslami’s cover story headline. Ettelaat’s headline said “Pillar of Revolution Ascends to Heaven”. Hamshahri, the organ of Tehran Municipality, is fully covered by a photo of Ayatollah Hashemi, and a headline that reads ‘Departure of Leader’s Old Friend’. The cover is dubbed as a belated apology, because a monthly version of the outlet had run a cover story with a cartoon that was considered an affront to Hashemi, just two weeks earlier.
Even the far right have put aside all grudge, most of them rooted in Hashemi Rafsanjani’s positions before and after the disputed presidential race held in 2009. Javan daily’s front page also show Hashemi Rafsanjani humbly saying prayers in a holy shrine while the headline calls him a man for the hard times of struggle (against the Shah’s regime) and a companion of both Supreme Leaders. In its headline, Vatane Emrouz highlighted the “Sudden Death of ‘Ayatollah’”, a high-ranking clerical title avoided in the Supreme Leader’s message of condolence.
Kayhan daily, whose manager, Hossein Shariatmadari, has been appointed by the Supreme Leader, did give the new the same weight,The paper has highlighted parts of the Supreme Leader’s message that called Hashemi’s profuse sagacity and intimacy a reliable support for the establishment and the leader.
Even by his death, Hashemi Rafsanjani will continue to stir Iran’s political lineup for the months to come, just as he did since the Islamic Republic. When dusts settle, moderate and reformist circle will definitely find it more and more difficult to engage with the establishment, as the Principlists who have been in a state of friendly animosity with him will figure out the loss could be as harmful to their status.