IRAN: Ahmadinejad gets ready to 'stick heads to the ceiling'
After nearly eight weeks of street demonstrations against his presidency as well as a torrent of criticism from his own conservative camp, some analysts hoped that a chastened, new and improved Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was confirmed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Monday and is to be sworn in by parliament Wednesday, would emerge.
Perhaps he would be more inclined to compromise and moderation.
But based on recent comments he made to a gathering of educators associated with the pro-government Basiji militia, the new Ahmadinejad might wind up even more confrontational than the old one.
"A new period has begun," he told the Association of Basiji Scholars at a meeting in Mashhad last Thursday, according to a report by the news website Farda News.
"Let me take the oath of office, and wait for the government to begin its work," he told the Basiji members, who are affiliated with the militiamen clubbing demonstrators in the streets.
"Then, we'll seize them by their collars and stick their heads to the ceiling," he said.
Ahmadinejad is set to be sworn in this week after nearly two months of post-election turmoil in which the opposition claimed vote-rigging led to his landslide victory over reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
But Ahmadinejad is now reportedly claiming that he was the victim of cheating.
According to a report by the reformist newspaper Entekhab, Ahmadinejad also boasted in a private meeting with aides that he actually received 30 million out of 40 million votes cast, not the 24 million he officially got.
Dozens have been killed and hundreds jailed in the protests that followed the election, including Mohsen Ruholamini, the son of a prominent scientist.
In an interview with a local reporter, a politician close to Ahmadinejad described how the next government might handle allegations of prisoner abuse and torture at the hands of security forces.
Bizhan Nobaveh, a pro-Ahmadinejad member of parliament, gave an interview with a reporter from the newspaper Etemaad that was carried by several other news websites:
Reporter: Mr. Nobaveh, what are you doing for the detained? Did you know the son of Ruholamini? Are you looking into why he was killed during his detention?
Nobaveh: Who is saying this? Now it’s possible he hit his head against the floor.
Reporter: His corpse says something different.
Nobaveh: Why are you speaking nonsense? We have to ask the government to look into this.
Reporter: It’s possible that your investigations will take time and every moment that passes lowers [the importance of] this incident.
Nobaveh: This talk is a crime. This talk, in any case, is subject to investigation.
Reporter: I asked one simple question. Regarding the son of Ruholamini, are you of the belief that there should be an investigation?
Nobaveh: Don’t 27 people a day die in road accidents?
Reporter: Road deaths are different than … deaths … .
Nobaveh: What’s the difference? In any case we haven’t heard of any deaths.
-- Los Angeles Times
Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Credit: AFP/Getty Images