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IRAN: Friday prayer leader derides Obama victory

November 7, 2008 |  8:51 am


In what would many considered a remarkable first since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution from one of the U.S. key rivals, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed U.S. president-elect Barack Obama in a letter on Thursday, congratulating him for his victory in the American presidential race and voicing hope that he would make the most of the opportunity.

But the warm glow didn't too long. At prayers today, the same old crowds were out chanting the same old slogans: “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Unlike Ahmadinejad, Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati did not extend an olive branch to Obama. Instead, he derided him as the same-old, same-old:

“The elections are over. Obama promises some change. Usually all presidential candidates make such pledges but after being elected they forget all about them. But anyway, if he brings some change, there might be some dim light for themselves.”

But, he said, as far as Iran was concerned, nothing would change:

“The U.S. is against the Islamic world and what matters most to the hegemonic U.S. government is fulfilling its own interests, which are all at the expense of ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of people as we have already witnessed in Iraq, Afghanistan and recently Pakistan.”

He went on to sarcastically describe how no U.S. president could be elected without the full consent of Iran's arch-rival, Israel:

“In the United States, the president-to-be must go to Israel and kiss its doorsteps. If approval of him is issued and the OK is given by the Israelis, only then he can go back to the U.S. and enjoy his victory and be elected as a president."

Jannati also had some choice words for critics of the government, warning that God would not be pleased by those who make “libelous and irresponsible” remarks against the government’s performance.

He said that newspapers and “counter-revolutionary” groups abroad that criticize Iran's human-rights track record should instead admire the “hard-working government” and support its actions:

“If you, opposition groups, naively wish to topple the system and come here to pressure influence and call for change, then forget about it! You are missing the target. If we are not thankful and responsible in criticizing the government, catastrophe will occur and everyone will be a loser, the oppressed and the oppressors."

— Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran and Khaled Hijab in Beirut

Photo: Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati speaking at Friday prayers in Tehran. Credit: Abedin Taherkenareh / European Pressphoto Agency

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