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A pro-government Iranian news website has posted a series of stories about the life of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad under the title, "The Child Of The Nation.”

The stories were reportedly gathered by a group of "independent university students," who say they had the “good fortune" to gain access to a tape of a private discussion between Ahmadinejad’s son and his friends.

The students say the tape, where the son talks about his father, sheds light on what they describe as "the hidden angles" of Ahmadinejad’s personality and made them want to know more.

So they ended up interviewing some of Ahmadinejad’s ministers, aides, and a former driver and then published the stories.

In them Ahmadinejad is portrayed as a pious, honest, and generous person who leads a very simple life.

Here are some highlights:

We were returning from a provincial trip to Mashad. After he got off the plane Dr. Ahmadinejad gave me some papers to keep. It was his handwriting on the papers. He had composed some nice poems.

The doctor [Ahmadinejad] sometimes gives as a gift his ring, his prayer rosary, and even the coat he wears. People write him letters and ask for them and he tells his office aides to post them [the items].

Once one of the clerics asked Dr. [Ahamdinejad] why do you keep talking about the hidden imam, you have no right. Ahamdinejad replied: Do you own the hidden imam?

His favorite food is "ghormeh sabzi" [an Iranian herb stew] and "ash" [thick Iranian soup]. He is a good cook and when he had time he used to cook these dishes.

Although Ahamdinejad has not yet announced his candidacy for the June presidential election, his campaign seems well under way.

There have been reports in recent weeks that the president has been distributing free potatoes, free oranges, and DVDs of his speeches among Iranian citizens.

Meanwhile the reformists and others have been publically criticizing the president more frequently. On April 28, the moderate presidential candidate and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karrubi said that Ahmadinejad's speeches have damaged the country.

Ahmadinejad has also come under attack from bloggers. One of his critics, “Tarfandestan,” posted a number of comments and claims made by the president.

A few examples:

“They will never let Obama become the president of the United States.”

“A 16-year-old in Shiraz has been able to enrich uranium in the basement of her house.”

“In the past two years, an economic miracle has taken place in our country.”

“People feel nauseous just by hearing the word 'democracy.'”

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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