Muslims Slam Iran Prez for Touching Chavez's Mom

Photoshopped version of image sparks online debate

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2013 5:15 PM CDT | Updated Mar 11, 2013 5:39 PM CDT

(Newser) – So much for comforting the grief-stricken: A photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad consoling the mother of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has sparked political controversy in Iran, the BBC reports. Conservatives, already irate over the president's eulogy for Chavez, said he had committed a sin by touching the woman—because she's not in his family. They accused Ahmadinejad of following the "deviant current," a phrase they've used to distance him from the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad's aides then claimed the image had been Photoshopped, and soon a clearly altered version appeared online showing him in the same pose with a bald man. Ahmadinejad supporters said it's his uncle, but it's really Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who is taller than Ahmadinejad in real life but appears shorter in the picture. Oddly, a website then apologized for criticizing the president, took fire from his supporters online, and withdrew its apology. "Unfortunately, the photo showing Ahmadinejad and [Mrs] Chavez is genuine," the website said.

Left, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to touch Mohamed ElBaradei in a clearly Photoshopped photo; right, he consoles the mother of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.   (YouTube)
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