Hardliners angry at Ahmadinejad's choice of deputy

President urged to replace Mashaie because of calls to be friends with Israel

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under fire from leading hardliners for naming as his top deputy a man who has said Iran is friends with everyone, including with arch-foe Israel.

The state-run, English-language Press TV reported yesterday that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie "no longer wanted the job" of First Vice-President and had resigned because of the controversy. There was no immediate confirmation of the report.

Analysts say Mr Ahmadinejad's decision to appoint Mr Mashaie, to whom he is related by marriage, suggests the President has only a small entourage of people he trusts.

Iran has 12 vice-presidents, but the First Vice-President is the most important because he leads Cabinet meetings in the absence of the President. Mr Mashaie, whose remarks on Israel in 2008, when he was in charge of a culture and tourism body, created a storm at home, was elevated to that senior rank on Thursday.

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a member of Iran's top legislative body and usually an ally of Mr Ahmadinejad, said the President had shown "a twisted face to clerics and elites" with the appointment. "Ahmadinejad should not challenge conservatives with such decisions. I request the President to replace him before more criticisms are made," the hardline cleric was quoted as saying by the Khorasan newspaper.

Mr Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a June presidential vote which stirred the largest display of unrest that Iran, the world's fifth-bargest oil exporter, has seen since the 1979 revolution. The vote exposed deep rifts in the country's ruling elite. Defeated moderate candidates claim it was rigged in favour of the incumbent, who has described it as "the world's freest election".

The latest criticism comes as a reminder that while hardliners have supported Mr Ahmadinejad in the election dispute, before that vote they often criticised him, especially over his handling of the economy. A hardline editor seen as close to Iran's top authority is among those questioning Mr Ahmadinejad's choice of First Vice-President. It "brought shock, regret and concern to his voters", said Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of the hardline Kayhan daily, calling on the President to reverse his decision. The last row over Mr Mashaie ended after the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, intervened, saying his remarks about Israel were "not right but the dispute should end".

In November, Mr Mashaie came under fire for hosting a ceremony in which women in traditional dress carried in the Koran, to music – an action deemed insulting to the Islamic text.

A lawmaker and Ahmadinejad ally, Hamid Rasai, said Iranian society was very sensitive about Mr Mashaie. "I believe it would have been better if he had not been appointed," the Etemad-e Melli newspaper quoted him as saying. Dariush Ghanbari, a pro-reform lawmaker, told the same newspaper that the President could be impeached over the appointment. However, analysts said this was unlikely as parliament was dominated by hardliners.

*Iran has released a local British embassy employee, Hossein Rassam, on £60,000 bail. He was the last employee still in detention after nine Iranian British embassy staff were held late last month for alleged involvement in mass street protests following the election.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam