Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani Reuters

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday said the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani does not change the imperative that the world must be vigilant and oppose the regime’s internal and external aggressions.

“This election reminds us how little has changed in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.

“Incumbent Hassan Rouhani was one of the handful of candidates handpicked by Iran’s Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council. And, indeed, the ultimate power in the country continues to lie with the Supreme Leader. It is even a stretch to call this an election in any conventional sense when all the contestants were hand-picked by the Supreme Leader, when outsiders were not permitted to observe the process, and when minority candidates were excluded from the polls,” he added.

“It is unhelpful when Western media portray Rouhani as the ‘moderate’ candidate. This description only clouds the reality of modern Iran. It is a brutal theocracy that oppresses its own people, albeit some quarters prefer to strengthen the bureaucrats and others prefer to strengthen the clerics. But regardless of the winner in this process, the outcome is the same: authoritarianism, militarism, repression, and an unbroken allegiance to the Islamic revolution.

“We cannot forget that under this so-called ‘moderate’ leader, there was no slowdown in Iran’s aggressive regional policy, including state sponsorship of terrorism; active participation in war crimes committed in Syria; and unceasing belligerence against Israel that manifested through financial and material support for terror organizations along with an unrelenting stream of anti-Semitic propaganda. Nor was there a moderation of its gross human rights violations against religious minorities, the LGBT community, journalists and others, particularly its widespread use of imprisonment and execution to intimidate its own citizens,” said Greenblatt.

“It is important that the U.S. Administration has been tough in holding Iran accountable through enhanced sanctions related to its missile program and human rights outrages,” he noted, and called on the international community “to be vigilant and continue to press for real policy, democratic and social reform.”

Rouhani won a second term in office in the presidential election held last Friday in Iran. While he has been touted by the West as a “moderate”, Rouhani has in the past called Israel “illegitimate” and lamented that the crisis in Syria has made it difficult for Iran to focus on harming Israel.

Rouhani has personally presided over “Death to America” chants during rallies in Iran, even though he claimed that Iranians “respect the American people”.

Under his presidency, Iran has set new records in the number of executions, many for political or religious "crimes". Rouhani has also done little in the way of freeing reformist political leaders who were jailed after protesting the 2009 election.