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Iran Feature: The Arrest of Ahmadinejad's "Exorcist"

On Monday, a rather strange story --- even in the context of the recent tensions between President Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader --- began to emerge from Iran. Abbas Ghaffari, a member of the President's staff, had been arrested.

That in itself was notable, especially as the head of Ahmadinejad's "cultural council", Abbas Amirifar, had been detained days earlier, appraently for his alleged in distributing a controversial CD about the imminent return of the "Hidden Imam".

But the mystery went further: who exactly is Abbas Ghaffari, a man labelled as Ahmadinejad's "exorcist" by the opposition site Peyke Iran?

A new website, 1Shanbeh, first reported Ghaffari's arrest. It explained that he claimed supernatural abilities --- Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, seen as Ahmadinejad's religious mentor, had criticised that Ghaffari claimed to have "control over the genies (djinnis)". 1Shanbeh continued that with the hint that the sudden heart attack of Ghaffari's interrogator might have something to do with Ghaffari's skills in the black arts.

This is not just the sensationalist chatter of one website: the controversy over Ghaffari is already in the political mainstream. Prominent conservative leader Morteza Nabavi, a member of the Expediency Council, talked this week about the "profound diversion" in the Ahmadinejad adminstration. He continued with concern about the "influence" of "some people in our world who think there are demons and djinnis that can impact on the mind".

(hat tip to Potkin Azarmehr for his work on this story)

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