IRAN: Vanished photo shows angry Khamenei amid tensions following speech
What could have made Iran's supreme leader so visibly angry?
The extraordinary photo above -- posted to the website of Iran's hard-line Fars news agency but then quickly taken down -- shows supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at center with his hand raised, extremely angry after the conclusion of the June 4 ceremony commemorating the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
During that event, hard-line supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began angrily shouting down Khomeini's grandson, Hassan -- who appears in a black turban at the top right corner of the picture -- as he delivered a speech in honor of his grandfather.
Hassan is considered a supporter of moderate opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.
Just next to Khomeini appears to be a white-turbaned Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, another regime pillar sympathetic to the opposition.
Other political insiders -- including Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammed Najjar -- also appear in the photo. Some newspapers reported that Khomeini and Najjar, a confidant of Ahmadinejad, got into a scuffle after the ceremony.There are rumors that Khamenei was reprimanding his deputies for not calming the unruly crowd and letting Khomeini deliver his speech. Or simply that he was complaining that there was no published schedule for the speakers.
But in the controversy stirred up by the event, others see tensions between Khamenei and a new generation of brash Revolutionary Guard and Basjii commanders who don't adhere to their elders' rules of decorum.
Those commanders, whom Ahmadinejad represents, are slowly pushing aside the clergy, the thinking goes.
The crowd that heckled Khomeini was led by this new group of military and paramilitary professionals, whom Mousavi describes as a "cult."
Photo: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, center, upbraids others in the minutes following the ceremony commemorating the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Credit: Fars News Agency