John Hagee and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: fearful symmetry

The New York Times‘s Nazila Fathi writes in a May 20 story entitled “Iranian Clerics Tell the President to Leave the Theology to Them”:

TEHRAN — In his almost three years as president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been harshly criticized in the West. But he is increasingly drawing fire from Shiite clerics here, who accuse him of using religion to distract attention from his government’s failure to deliver on promises of prosperity and political freedoms.

In a news conference last week, the president lashed out at those who were “insulting and mocking” him about a Shiite belief that he said was based on Islamic teachings.

The tensions surround Imam Mahdi, the 12th imam in a direct bloodline from the Prophet Muhammad, who the Shiite faithful believe will one day emerge from 1,000 years in hiding to save mankind and bring justice to the world. Tens of thousands of pilgrims go each year to the Jamkaran mosque near Qum, about 75 miles south of Tehran, where they believe that the imam will appear.

President Ahmadinejad, who came to office in 2005 declaring his intention to “hasten the emergence” of Imam Mahdi, said in a speech broadcast nationally this month that Imam Mahdi supported the day-to-day workings of his government and was helping him in the face of international pressure.

Amazing how closely Ahmadinejad mirrors John McCain‘s pal Rev. John Hagee. Bruce Wilson noted on Alternet March 5, Hagee’s book Jerusalem Countdown similarly calls for speeding along worldly events to prepare for the End Times—and says the Holocaust was God’s retribution on the Jews for rebelling against Him, as well as His way of driving them to re-establish the state of Israel, a prerequisite for Armageddon. (Gee, what a vindictive creep He must be.) Back to the Times:

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has established a well-financed foundation to prepare the nation for the imam’s return, was stung by the criticism.

“To deny the help of the imam is very bad,” he said in his news conference. “It is very bad to say that the imam will not emerge for another few hundred years; who are you to say that?”

Hagee has also got his own well-funded foundation to prepare for Christ’s return, Christians United for Israel. Its website warns: “There is a new Hitler in the Middle East—President Ahmadinejad of Iran.” Pretty funny, eh? The Times concludes:

A senior conservative cleric, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, warned him weeks ago not to talk about Imam Mahdi and said that even the founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, did not claim any links with the imam.

Another cleric, Mehdi Karroubi, who ran for president when Mr. Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, warned that people could lose their faith in Imam Mahdi.

“People would say that if the current situation is his management before his emergence, what would happen after his emergence?” he said, referring to soaring food prices, the daily newspaper Etemad Melli quoted him as saying.

“We need to talk about realities,” said Mr. Karroubi, who is a former speaker of Parliament. “We should not link everything to religious and hidden issues.”

We can only be encouraged by any falling-out between Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs. But this could be a case of real zealots and ideologues breaking with what they see as cynical political exploitation of the apocalyptic faith.

Nor are the Sunni fundis to be left out of the seemingly universal game of demonizing what they closely mirror. On Feb. 24, 2007, the Paris-based Iran Press Service reported the claims of Syrian-born historian Mahmoud Al-Sayyed Al-Dugheim that “Iran has established a global Shi’ite Government that operates in accordance with the ‘Protocols of the Mollahs of Qom‘, aimed at annihilating the Sunnis.” Al-Dugheim agrees with the White House that Tehran is backing Shi’ite militias in Iraq. “The Protocol of the Mollahs of Qom is more dangerous than the Protocol of the Sions,” he says—apparently without irony. “We consider the Zionist plan to be dangerous to the Arab nation, but even more dangerous is the Safavid Sassanian Iranian plan to restore the Empire of Cyrus, which would range from Greece to Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula, in addition to other regions.”

See our last posts on Iran, the struggle within Islam and Judeo-Christan end-of-the-world-ery.

  1. McCain ditches Hagee
    From CNN, May 22:

    In the face of mounting controversy over headline-grabbing statements from Pastor John Hagee, CNN has learned presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has decided to reject his endorsement.

    The Huffington Post had published a recording of Hagee saying that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God’s will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy.

    “Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well,” McCain said in a statement to CNN Thursday.

    He added that his relationship with Hagee did not compare with Obama’s lengthy association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I have said I do not believe Senator Obama shares Reverend Wright’s extreme views. But let me also be clear, Reverend Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual advisor, and I did not attend his church for twenty years. I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today,” said McCain.

    OK John, then why were you so quick to praise him and accept his endorsement if you knew so little about what he stands for? And how exactly is Obama’s relationship with Wright relevant here?