Rafsanjani’s letter came a week after a bare-knuckled, televised debate between Ahmadinejad and his main challenger, former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. During the debate, Ahmadinejad charged that Mousavi’s campaign was backed by “corrupt” politicians such as Rafsanjani, whom he called “the main puppet master.” Ahmadinejad also accused Rafsanjani, who served as Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997, of turning himself and his family members into “billionaires” since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Rafsanjani complained in the letter that Khamenei had “deemed it best to remain silent” instead of censuring Ahmadinejad for the personal attacks. Rafsanjani said he wrote the letter only after demanding an apology from Ahmadinejad and requesting airtime on state television to rebut the allegations. Both requests were denied, according to the letter.
“If the system cannot or does not want to confront such ugly and sin-infected phenomena as insults, lies and false allegations made in that debate, how can we consider ourselves followers of the sacred Islamic system?” Rafsanjani wrote.