Image: Ahmadinejad Under Fire for Holding Hands With Chavez' Mother

Ahmadinejad Under Fire for Holding Hands With Chavez' Mother

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 10:21 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Did he or didn’t he?

A picture showing Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holding hands with the mother of Hugo Chavez at her son’s funeral last week in Venezuela has raised concerns that he had broken Iran’s strict ban on physical contact between unrelated men and women.

“In relation to what is allowed and what is forbidden,” Arash Karami, an Iranian press blogger, told The New York Times, “we know that no unrelated women can be touched unless she is drowning at sea or needs medical treatment.”

But several Ahmadinejad supporters, including a cleric that was part of his funeral entourage and saw the interaction, said that the photograph of the president and Chávez’ mother, Elena Frías, was a forgery. It had been created by digital manipulation.

Others circulated online what they said was the image before it was altered in Photoshop, showing Ahmadinejad in the same embrace with an older man, The Times reports.

Either way, the reaction to the photograph was swift and furious from religious conservatives, including Hojat al-Islam Hossein Ibrahimi of the Society of Militant Clergy of Tehran, who urged that candidates to replace Ahmadinejad in the coming election be carefully vetted to ensure that they understand what is prohibited by the laws of Shiite Islam, The Times reports.

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