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Ahmadinejad's 'Halo' Makes A Comeback

Mahmud Ahmadinejad waves after delivering his speech to the UN General Assembly in 2005.
Mahmud Ahmadinejad waves after delivering his speech to the UN General Assembly in 2005.
In 2005, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad claimed that a light surrounded him as he delivered his speech before the UN General Assembly and that the attention of the audience was unblinkingly focused on him.

Later, an aide to the president said that the video clip showing Ahmadinejad making the claim had been faked.

No one was convinced, however, and the episode was often mentioned by those opposed to the president and also by satirists and cartoonists as proof of Ahmadinejad's eccentricity.

On the eve of Iran's presidential election on June 12, Ahmadinejad's rivals have been circulating the video on the Internet.

On June 6, reformist candidate Mehdi Karrubi brought it up during his televised debate with Ahmadinejad, who denied making the comment.

But today, several Iranian pro-reform websites quote a senior cleric in Qom as saying that Ahmadinejad did indeed make the comments.

Hojattoleslam Mohammad Taghi Sobhani, a senior official with the office of Islamic Propaganda in Qom, says he was present at Ahmadinejad's 2005 meeting with a senior cleric, Ayatollah Amoli, where the president is said to have first made his comments.

Sobhani says that a number of officials attended the meeting and that the whole event was videotaped by two cameras, one from the office of Ayatollah Amoli and the other by Qom’s provincial television.

He is quoted as saying: "So how can Mr. Ahmadinejad deny his comments about the halo of light?”

The Associated Press reports that the “halo” was also mentioned in a documentary aired on Iranian state television.

"Have you seen a halo in your addresses?" former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi asked Karrubi during a documentary shown on state TV last week.

"Only certain people can see that. I don't have this spiritual status," Karrubi replied.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari