Another chip off the old revolutionary ayatollah

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The Independent Online
The man to watch in Iran is a 23-year-old who seems ready to take on the mantle of the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, the ayatollah's grandson, has been cast into the limelight since the death of his father, Ahmad Khomeini, last Friday.

The world first saw Hassan as a seven-year-old returning to Iran with his family after the 1979 revolution. He went on to study theology in the holy city of Qom and is a hojatoleslam, the last stage before becoming an ayatollah.

"It is the duty of all of us to take up the flag of my father which he placed on my shoulders," he told mourners at his father's funeral.

Like his father before him, Hassan is venerated as the "memory of the ayatollah". He is tall, poised and a good speaker, just like grandad.

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Another big gun, Mikhail Kalashnikov, was the star of the IDEX 95 weapons fair in Abu Dhabi. In between signing autographs and posing for photos, the designer of the world's most famous assault rifle defended his contribution to the world.

"I invented my guns as a way of protecting the borders of my native land ... but now they are out of the control of the state," he said. "It's a pity that people are being killed by my guns, but if there were no Kalashnikov, another designer would design something similar." Mr Kalashnikov, 75, joined the Soviet army before Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and began designing guns after he was wounded.

After his first 10 designs were turned down, he won a competition in 1947 with his AK-47, which could fire single shots like a rifle or bursts like a sub-machine-gun. Now he makes hunting rifles which he uses in his native Siberia.

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At least one Israeli won't be complaining about government health care. A 72-year-old man is in stable condition after the Health Minister, Ephraim Sneh, answered the traditional call "Is there a doctor in the house?" at a Jerusalem hotel. At the hotel to give a speech, Dr Sneh, who is a physician and a former chief medical officer of the Israeli army, revived the heart-attack victim.

Maryann Bird