Feature

A president playing into his enemies’ hands

You’d expect President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as head of an Islamic government, to be pretty well-versed in religious doctrine, said Mohammed Ali Abtahi in the Tehran Etemad-e-Melli. He certainly thinks he is: Addressing a crowd of theol

Mohammed Ali Abtahi Etemad-e-Melli

You’d expect President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as head of an Islamic government, to be pretty well-versed in religious doctrine, said Mohammed Ali Abtahi in the Tehran Etemad-e-Melli. He certainly thinks he is: Addressing a crowd of theology students recently, he urged them to take notes—he being such a savant in such matters. In reality, though, he’s a dunce. He went on to tell the students that the return of the Hidden Imam or Mahdi, whom Shiites believe will one day come to save the world, was imminent; that his hand could already be seen “in all the affairs of the Iranian nation.” Oh, really? In the 20 percent inflation rate, in the soaring cost of living, in the mass unemployment? Ahmadinejad was astonished at the chorus of condemnation his comments aroused, not just from the media but from many of the mullahs at the heart of the regime. But that’s because he’s so convinced the Divine Savior is about to arrive (a conviction that may explain his hunger for a clash with the West) that he seems to have forgotten entirely that most of the ruling mullahs are keen to downplay the doctrine, fearing that pushed to extremes, it may prove destabilizing. In his ignorance, Ahmadinejad has sided with the mullahs’ doctrinal enemies, which makes his chances of getting re-elected next year even smaller than before.

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