TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's conservative-dominated parliament on Wednesday dismissed President Hassan Rouhani's nominee for the post of science minister, arguing that the candidate is not fully committed to Islamic values.
The development was another blow to Rouhani and underscored the growing rift between the moderate president and his hard-line opponents in parliament who accuse him of giving ground to pro-Western voices in the name of moderation.
The 290-seat house rejected Rouhani's nominee for the post, Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, with a 160-79 vote against him. There were 246 lawmakers in attendance and seven abstained from voting.
Rouhani nominated Ahmadabadi last week after parliament in August dismissed Reza Faraji Dana over his alleged support for pro-Western voices at universities. Under the law, Rouhani has two weeks to propose another candidate.
Lawmakers accuse Ahmadabadi of not distancing himself from protests over the disputed 2009 presidential elections that gave Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a second term in office.
Also, lawmaker Mahmoud Nabavian criticized Ahmadabadi for allowing male and female students to mix freely — for example, at music concerts — when he was head of the science department at Tehran University.
"Boys and girls were exercising at the stadium together, despite the orders by the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) on mixed campuses," Nabavian said.
Hard-liners in parliament have consistently challenged Cabinet nominees and accuse Rouhani of proposing allies who are friendly to the West or who back "sedition" against the ruling establishment.
Rouhani has fired back at his critics, saying he chooses Western-educated ministers based on their competence and adding that Iran is tired of "extremism."