Friday, September 22, 2006

AJC: Who is Ahmadinejad?

Is he a threat to world peace, a God-fearing patriot, or a yokel? At home and abroad, people are asking about Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ... Who is this man? | "Iran's fiery-tongued president sends shudders through Western capitals when he declares the right to develop nuclear power and threatens to wipe Israel off the map.

At the United Nations this week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defiantly accused the United States of abusing its power and showed no signs of willingness to comply with Security Council demands that Iran suspend uranium enrichment.

At home, however, Ahmadinejad creates far more complex —- and in some cases, far from flattering —- impressions that bear little resemblance to his image abroad as the greatest potential threat to global security today.

In Tehran's impoverished southern neighborhoods, Ahmadinejad is admired as a champion of conservative religious values and the promise of better economic days ahead.

In fashionable restaurants on the opposite side of the traffic-choked capital, however, the 50-year-old president is the butt of jokes deriding him as a village idiot for his rustic ways."


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