Total Pageviews

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ahmadinejad Says Chávez Will Rise Again

A report on the death of Hugo Chávez from Press TV, Iran’s English-language satellite channel, suggested that the United States was responsible for the late leader’s fatal illness.

In a letter of condolence to the people of Venezuela, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, struck a note of interfaith harmony on Wednesday, expressing confidence that the late Hugo Chávez would eventually be resurrected, along with Jesus and the Hidden Imam, a messianic figure in Shiite Islam.

According to the Persian-language text of the letter posted on the Iranian president’s official Web site, Mr. Ahmadinejad wrote: “I have no doubt he will come again along with all the rigteous people and the Prophet Jesus and the only successor of the righteous generation, the perfect human,” a formulation used by Shiite Muslims to refer to the Hidden Imam, who disappeared in the ninth century but is expected to emerge from more than a millennium in hiding to redeem mankind.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s note, sent as Iran declared a day of national mourning for “the Latin American anti-imperialist figure,” also said that Mr. Chávez had died of a “suspicious illness.” As Iran’s state-owned Press TV reported, hours before the Venezuelan president’s death was announced on Tuesday, his vice president, Nicolás Maduro, hinted darkly that foreign powers were responsible for causing the illnesses that killed both the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Mr. Chávez.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also wrote, “Chávez is a name known to all nations, that reminds us of purity, kindness, courage, heroism, love, dedication to the people and tireless efforts to serve the people, especially the poor and those scarred by colonialism and imperialism.”

The references to Jesus and the Hidden Imam were omitted from a translation of the letter into Spanish posted on the Iranian president’s Web site.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s stated belief that the return of the messiah, also known as Imam Mahdi, is imminent has been a source of controversy throughout his presidency. When he took office in 2005, he declared that he would work to “hasten the emergence” of the messiah. Then in 2008, he angered Iran’s ruling clerics when he claimed that the Hidden Imam was involved in the day-to-day workings of his government and helped guide his foreign policy.

Reporting was contributed by Thomas Erdbrink in Tehran.