Ahmadinejad criticised for hugging Chavez’s mother

This image of the Iranian president and the mother of the late Venezuelan leader has sparked outrage among clerics. Picture: AFP/Getty
This image of the Iranian president and the mother of the late Venezuelan leader has sparked outrage among clerics. Picture: AFP/Getty
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IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing criticism from senior Muslim clerics after hugging the mother of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Photographs taken at Chavez’s funeral, and circulated by the Venezuelan government, showed the Iranian president consoling the mother of his late ally. Ahmadinejad’s gesture was dubbed a sin by Iranian clerics, who accused the leader of flouting the country’s strict Islamic rules and codes.

Iranian papers today cited clerics from the religious centre of Qom who described the contact as “forbidden”, inappropriate behaviour and “clowning around”.

Iran’s strict Islamic codes prohibit physical contact between unrelated members of the opposite sex.

The conservative clerics also condemned Mr Ahmadinejad’s condolence letter to Venezuelans in which he called Mr Chavez a “martyr” who will be resurrected and who will return to Earth along with Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdi, a 9th century saint revered by Shiite Muslims.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials are consulting laywers in anticipation of a legal challenge to the producers of the Oscar-winning film ‘Argo’, which details the hostage crisis which took place in the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979. The Islamic republic claim that the movie is factually inaccurate and acts as American propaganda.