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The Author Caught Between Khamenei And Ahmadinejad

It's hard to know whether author Rasul Jafarian should be happy or offended at receiving Iran's Book of the Year Award.

His book, "Shi'a Atlas," won the prize in the competition's history and Islamic nation section earlier this week. The book, an encyclopedia focused on Shi'a matters, was written at the request of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

However, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad did not sign Jafarian's award (he signed all the others).

According to the Ayandeh news website, Jafarian was only informed one hour before the ceremony of the failure of the president to sign. He said, "perhaps informing just one hour before the ceremony shows that this is a political issue."

To heighten the intrigue, Jafarian didn't attend the awards ceremony, where Ahmadinejad gave a speech.

Event organizers later said that Ahmadinejad's refusal to sign was not politically motivated and he didn't sign because he had bestowed another signed award to this book at a festival last week. They say they will send Jafarian's "special award and a statuette" to his address.

But there is also a good deal of speculation that in fact it was Jafarian's written criticism of Ahmadinejad that led the president to refuse to sign the award.

Jafarian is known as a conservative tied to Khamenei. He has even written on the subject of how Ahmadinejad has created division within clerical ranks, a subject he perhaps knows even better now.

-- Michael Hirshman

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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

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