In less than a week, on August 3rd, the Iranian people will bid farewell to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will be replaced by Hassan Rouhani, another regime-insider. The mainstream perception, and the argument supported by many analysts, is that next week will mark the end of Ahmadinejad’s political career. This argument is inaccurate due to the fact that the clerics and political figures in Iran’s gilded circle routinely continue their anti-Western, anti-U.S., and anti-Semitic statements and policies either through regime politics or behind the geopolitical and media scenes.
Ahmadinejad himself publicly stated that he does not intend to retire from politics after leaving office. As a result, Ahmadinejad and his anti-Semitic, incendiary, and inflammatory beliefs will continue to guide and shape Iran’s policies. In addition, according to the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ahmadinejad can even run for presidency again in four years and win the votes of the hardliners, Basij, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, and the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Furthermore, president-elect Hassan Rouhani – an insider and founding father of Iran’s repressive theocratic regime who is well-known for being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” – will continue Ahmadinejad’s policies.
Yet, it is crucial to reflect on Ahmadinejad’s eight years in office and presidential legacy, as some of Ahmadinejad’s most incendiary, anti-Semitic, inflammatory and provocative policies are a strong representation of the beliefs, policies, and political stance of the Iranian regime:
- The most outrageous, history-defying, and anti-Semitic announcement was publicly released during Ahmadinejad’s speech in Tehran. In reference to his argument that the Holocaust did not occur, Ahmadinejad explained, “They [Western governments and Israel] launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews. The pretext for establishing the Zionist regime is a lie … a lie which relies on an unreliable claim, a mythical claim, and the occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the Holocaust."
- The second belief includes an insult to the American people and those families who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Ahmadinejad repeatedly declared that the American government orchestrated the attacks to kill its own people. In one of the speeches to the United Nations in September 2010, Ahmadinejad stated, “Some segments within the American government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime… The majority of the American people, as well as most nations and politicians around the world, agree with this view."
- The next anti-Semitic belief includes the repeated threats of wiping Tel Aviv off the world map. In a speech to the World Without Zionism student conference in Tehran, October 2005, Ahmadinejad stated, "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury." In other statements and comments to reporters in Tehran, April 2006, he further stated, "We say that this fake regime [Israel] cannot logically continue to live … Open the doors [of Europe] and let the Jews go back to their own countries." In addition, in his comments on Israel’s 60th anniversary celebration, May 2008, Ahmadinejad stated, “Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken."
- Ahmadinejad also reiterated the Iranian regime’s policy of creating and utilizing suicide bombers. In his comments during a visit to a training camp, April 2007, Ahmadinejad stated that "Iran can recruit hundreds of suicide bombers a day. Suicide is an invincible weapon. Suicide bombers in this land showed us the way, and they enlighten our future."
The list of Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic, incendiary, and Islamist remarks and beliefs go on. However, there are also domestic repressive policies. In addition to the aforementioned foreign policies, Ahmadinejad strengthened the power of the Basij, Iran’s militia organization, the intelligence Etela’at, the “moral” police, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps by passing more rigid, constraining, and Sharia-based laws. Freedom of speech, press, and assembly were completely confined under Ahmadinejad’s eight years of presidency. The number of political prisoners exponentially increased, more journalists and activists were arrested, the extent of torture, rape, discrimination and executions heightened (according to Human Rights Watch), and oppositional newspapers were shut down.
Ahmadinejad is also notorious for his denial of human rights – such as when he denied that a gay population existed in Iran – turning him into one of the most ridiculed presidents of his time. In a speech at Columbia University in New York, September 2007, Ahmadinejad claimed, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country … In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this."
The crucial point is that – although some liberals would argue that the aforementioned beliefs are only limited to Iran’s hardliners – these ideologies are strongly held across the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political spectrum, including by moderates, reformists, and centrists. Any political figure or party that wishes to survive in Iran’s theocratic politics and any political party or figure that is allowed to hold positions in Iran has already proved their loyalty to and support for the regime’s fundamental anti-American, anti-Semitic, and Sharia law-based beliefs.
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