Ayatollah Yazdi on the President: ‘under a spell’

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Arch-conservative Ayatollah Yazdi has accused President Ahmadinejad of being ‘under a spell’. Ayatollah Yazdi is a serious figure in Iran’s political establishment. Involved in the founding of the Islamic Republic, he was close to Ayatollah Beheshti, Ayatollah Khomeini’s most important lieutenant. Ayatollah Yazdi in the 1990’s was the head of the judiciary, and fought hard against the then President, Mohammad Khatami, and his reformist agenda. He is now a member of the Assembly of Experts that appoints the Supreme Leader. And until recently he was also regarded as the spiritual mentor of President Ahmadinejad. But last week he said this about the President: ‘I've told some of my close friends that I am more than 90% certain that he has been put under a spell’ because “No sane person does such things unless his free will has been taken away.”

This is extraordinary criticism from a senior figure for a sitting President. The behaviour Ayatollah Yazdi is referring to was President Ahmadinejad’s refusal to attend cabinet for eight days when the Supreme Leader reinstated Heydar Moslehi whose resignation the president had sought. One reason President Ahmadinejad wanted to sack Moslehi is because he had tapped the phone of his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie. Now Moslehi is back in his position, and there were reports that Mashaie had been arrested for – sorcery and casting spells.
It is possible that this unexpected and slightly bizarre struggle within Iran’s political elite is due to personality clashes, but it is more likely that the Supreme Leader and arch conservatives like Ayatollah Yazdi are suspicious that Mashaie and others are seeking to steer the country in a direction they do not like, hence their very swift and determined moves against President Ahmadinejad. Nobody in this political elite is sympathetic to the church, but the church is called to pray for the country’s rulers to rule in away that the people can have a quiet and peaceful life, and that there is freedom for the Gospel to be shared.

Pray for

• The salvation of all in Iran’s political elite (see ‘Iran’s leaders’)
• An outcome to the present struggle that does not harm the country
• Those in power to be more sympathetic to the rights of Christians