The Evin Prison weight-loss plan

Another great moment in compassion from Ahmadinejad’s cronies: A close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested that Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist critic of the president, appeared so gaunt during his televised confession this month because he himself had decided to take off some weight. “It’s natural that when someone has become fat, in prison ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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A picture obtained from the Fars News Agency shows Iranian cleric Mohammad Ali Abtahi (L), a member of the Assembly of Combatant Clerics, defending himself at the courtroom in Tehran on August 1, 2009 during the first hearing in the trial of 100 people accused of rioting after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran put on trial around 100 people, including top reformists and aides of opposition leaders, on charges of rioting after the disputed re-election in June of Ahmadinejad as president. AFP PHOTO/FARS NEWS/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

Another great moment in compassion from Ahmadinejad’s cronies:



A close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested that Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist critic of the president, appeared so gaunt during his televised confession this month because he himself had decided to take off some weight.

“It’s natural that when someone has become fat, in prison he understands that his fatness harmed his body and spirit,” said Ali Akbar Javanfekr (left).”So maybe Mr. Abtahi took advantage of this opportunity to lose weight.”

Not that I claim to really understand the forces at play in Iranian politics, but the “let-them-eat-cake” arrogance displayed by Ahmadinejad and his supporters (comparing opposition supporters to soccer fans, for instance) is confusing. Having dragged the Islamic Republic into the worst crisis of legitimacy in its history, does Ahmadinejad really have reason to feel cocky?

Given the apparent degree of frustration with Ahmadinejad among members of the clerical elite, do the Ahmadinejad loyalists really gain by mocking a prominent cleric, even a reformist one, like this?

AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Iran

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