Iran votes for new president: Farewell Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, we’ll miss you – but not that much...

 

Share
Related Topics

We shall miss him. The cheeky smile, the chipmunk eyes, the Spanish Armada beard, the crackpot President who once claimed that a cloud emanated above his head at the UN – then denied he’d ever said such nonsense – and then confessed that he had when confronted with tape of his holy utterance.

Trying to elevate his most trusted lieutenant to his private office, he found his friend accused of sorcery and witchcraft. Only Israel’s ex-Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman – he who once telegraphed the foreign ministries of Europe with photos of the long-dead Grand Mufti of Jerusalem chatting to Adolf Hitler – could match Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for sheer unadulterated nonsense.

It could make you feel sorry – and that takes some doing – for both Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “Supreme Leader” of the Iranian necrocracy, and for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of That Country. Both were racists, Ahmadinejad about the Jews, Lieberman about the Arabs, and both shamed their countries. Ahmadinejad knew how to infuriate the Americans, Israel, the Russians, Iranian exiles and the EU all at the same time.

He suggested the Holocaust was exaggerated, that the “Israeli regime” should be “wiped from the map” – the court is still out on that translation, whatever the Israelis may say – and that Tehran would batter on with its nuclear technology, however much Israel and Washington may threaten to bomb Iran. At least Iran’s electoral laws forbid him a Roosevelt-like third innings.

Everyone knew that Ahmadinejad would never be given a finger on any nuclear button – many doubted if he knew the difference between nuclear physics and electrical power – but he provided, effectively (and damningly for Iran’s reputation as a serious, historical state), a hate figure to rival Gaddafi or any of the other ravers of the Middle East. There was a serious side, of course. While we hated him, we paid no attention to his popularity with the poor. Hands up who knew how much prestige he won by instituting pensions for the thousands of sightless female carpet weavers of Iran, blinded by their profession by the age of 40.

Yet who can forget the trough of ugliness, the torture and killings that followed the 2009 disputed election that appalled even his clerical supporters. His simplicity could contain a fearful cynicism. When I asked him after his 2009 election if he would ensure that no young Iranian woman would ever again be hanged like the 22-year-old who was dragged screaming to the gallows while pleading with her mother for help on her mobile phone, he looked at me with those soft eyes and said: “I personally would not even hurt a fly.” And then delivered a lecture on the independence of Iran’s judiciary.

Yes, we shall miss him. But not that much because he’s scheduled, according to a friend of mine, to take up a Tehran academic post as a lecturer in urban planning. Well, at least that will keep him out of the department of nuclear physics.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker