The bizarre world of Iranian extremism was evident again this week as clerics in Iran raised a hue and cry over a picture where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is shown consoling Hugo Chavez’s mother with a hug. Clerics called the picture a sin and abomination against Islam. They also attacked another cleric, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Mirtajeddini, who felt no moral difficulty in lying about the hug and saying that the photo was doctored.
One of the clerics, Mohammad Taqi Rahbar, from Qom denounced the hug as “forbidden” and a sin: “Touching a non-mahram (a woman who is not a close relative) is forbidden under any circumstances, whether shaking hands or touching by the cheek … and contrary to the dignity of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Ahmadinejad was also denounced for calling Chavez a “martyr” who will be resurrected like Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdit, a 9th century saint revered by Shiite Muslims. One cleric wrote “Your knowledge of religious issues is limited and no intervention could be made in this matter.”
The role of Iranian Vice President and cleric Mohammad Reza Mirtajeddini is particularly interesting. For all of his religiosity, Mirtajeddini did not hesitate to say that he was present at the time and the hug never occurred. He accused the media of doctoring the photograph.
Of course, Ahmadinejad and Mirtajeddini clearly lost a kindred spirit. Chavez worked to destroy the free press in the country and embraced every tyrant on Earth, including Ahmadinejad.