March 11, 2013 - 13:26 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - In an attempt to console the grieving mother of Hugo Chavez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embraced the 78-year-old woman, prompting harsh criticism by clerics, who deemed the embrace as an insult to Islam, according to Ynetnews.
Islamic leader of Isfahan Mohammad Taghi Rahbar told the Mehr news agency that in hugging Elena Frias de Chavez, Ahmadinejad had "lost control."
Rahbar explained that "shaking hands with a non-mahram (unrelated by family) woman, under any circumstances, whether young or old, is not allowed. Hugging or expressing emotions is improper for the dignity of the president of a country like the Islamic Republic of Iran."
An Iranian MP, Mohammad Dehghan, said that the Iranian president's embrace with the bereaved mother was indicative of the "deviant current," which is the term used by allies of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, in referring to the rule of Ahmadinejad.
It is not only the physical touch, however, that enraged Iranians. Religious leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami referred to the speech that the Iranian president had given following Chavez's death, and criticized Ahmadinejad for saying that Chavez will return on resurrection day along with Jesus and Imam Mahdi.
"I say directly that he went too far," said Khatami, adding that the president should have offered his condolences in a more diplomatic manner, without "religious connotations."
Khatami is an ally of Supreme Leader Khamenei, who has had a falling out with Ahmadinejad in 2011 when the president turned against the Ayatollah as riots burst in protest of Ahmadinejad's reelection.