Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mahmoud 'Tim LeHaye' Ahmadinejad

For all you Rapture Rastas out there, the president of Iran appears set to take Tim LeHaye and his Left Behind series on with some serious live competition. Only difference is, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may eventually have a Big Bomb to play with. Read this, and keep your head down and bum tucked in while you do.

As Iran rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear programme, the question uppermost in the mind of western leaders is "What is moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?"

Political analysts point to the fact that Iran feels strong because of high oil prices, while America has been weakened by the insurgency in Iraq.

But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad -- recently described by President George W Bush as an "odd man" -- and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.

In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September.

When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: "What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow."

The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president's belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.

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