PHOTO: Faezeh Hashemi with other former detainees at the home of a Baha’i political prisoner, May 2016

Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and a prominent activist, has again unsettled Iran’s regime with her remarks challenging the Islamic Republic’s political system and human rights.

In footage released by Iranian media, Hashemi told an audience that she “rejected theocracy”. She said that she is opposed to religious government because it causes the people to abandon religion.

The Cultural Deputy of the judiciary, Hadi Sadeghi, tried to play down the comments. While calling for the remarks to be “rejected”, he said, “Such statements have been made by various individuals in the past. It is nothing new.”

Other hardliners, including officials of the hardline Society of Qom Seminary Teachers, called on the judiciary to “confront” Hashemi.

Hashemi has regularly challenged the regime since the disputed President election of 2009. After enduring public harassment, she was finally imprisoned for six months in September 2012.

Hardliners have continued attempts to use her situation as leverage against Rafsanjani, who is head of the Expediency Council and a key ally of President Rouhani.

However, Hashemi has been undeterred. In May, she joined other former detainees in a visit to the home of Fariba Kamalabadi, a Baha’i political prisoner on furlough. Regime officials were infuriated by photographs of the visitors, including women without hijab, under a portrait of an early 20th-century Baha’i leader.

See Iran Feature: Rafsanjani’s Daughter Provokes Anger by Meeting Baha’i Political Prisoner

Leading members of the Baha’i faith — considered by the regime to be a subversive ally of Israel — are serving long prison sentences, while others are denied employment and higher education.

Despite the criticism, Hashemi refused to apologize for the meeting at Kamalabadi’s house.