Ahmadinejad Allies Busted for Sorcery
Genies, 'Hidden Imam,' and US outreach raising tensions in Iran
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2011 2:02 AM CDT
Embattled Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives for meetings at his office in Tehran.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

(Newser) – The power struggle between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is getting more intense—and a lot weirder. Several people close to Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being magicians and summoning genies, reports the Guardian. Ahmadinejad has faced harsh criticism from religious conservatives since he returned to work after going AWOL for 11 days because of a disagreement with Khamenei.

The feud appears to stem from reactions to unrest in the Arab world, notes the Washington Post. Khamenei and other religious leaders favor retrenchment, while Ahmadinejad and his circle are believed to favor outreach. Mashaei, Ahmadinejad's chosen successor, has made efforts to open lines of communication with Washington in recent months, sources say. Tensions have further increased with the release of a documentary that claims that Hidden Imam Mahdi, Shia Islam's savior, is about to return. Senior clerics allege that a "perverted team" among Ahmadinejad's inner circle is responsible for the film.

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May 6, 2011 7:23 AM CDT
The whole reason Ahmadinejad is there instead of Mousavi is because Khameni wanted a lackey for his totalitarian agenda. Now he's making examples. This doesn't bode well for anyone, but it does actually give me a little more respect for Ahmadinejad. In the late 19th century there was an Iranian who claimed to be the Madhi, and he was so successful in convincing people that his religion is still around, the Baha'i Faith. The point is the reaction. Several thousands of people followed him and the more that did the more the government cracked down, and eventually killed him. Of course they said he was a fraud, but Muslims believe there is no compulsion in religion, so they should've let the people decide whether or not he was a fraud. The reason why they didn't is because it would eventually mean they'd be out of power. Supposing this guy wasn't the Madhi, and the Madhi is returning soon, it's the same story. The Madhi is supposed to reform Islam. Guess who would probably fall out of favor. The point, in case anyone still had any doubts, is that the Ayatollah's only religion is power.
May 6, 2011 2:18 AM CDT
" The dictatorship of the theocracy is a cancer that will eat itself."