Daniel Korski

Laughing Mohammad Larijani, the Comical Ali of Iran

Laughing Mohammad Larijani, the Comical Ali of Iran
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In the week when the Iranian regime forced Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani to goulishly re-enact the murder of her husband on TV, it is worth reading Newsweek's interview with Mohammad Javad Larijani, a regime insider. His answers call to mind Comical Ali, whose delusional denials of the US advance in Iraq made everyone realise how detached from reality Saddam Hussein's regime really was.

First on the matter of torture, routinely said by the UN, former prisoners and defectors to be used by Iranian officials: "Torture is forbidden by the Constitution. Any law officer who tortures civilians will meet a very harsh punishment." Of course, he admits, the Iranian system could "need refinements," but over-all it is full of checks and balances.

Presumably to underscore the civility of Iran's legal system, Mr Larijani proceeds to explain, in technical tones, the process of stoning: "Stoning means to throw a limited number of stones with limited intensity to the accused, there is more than a 50 percent chance he can survive." So that's ok, then.

And then a dig at Canada. Yes, Canada, which, in Mohammad Javas Larijani's view, has "a dismal human-rights record," and a legal system "in shambles."  No "I'm-a-lumber-jack" here, but a bunch of wild-eyed, minority-abusing, human-rights violating crazies.

Of course, no interview with an Iranian official is complete without a dig at Britain and Mi6. Mohammad Javas Larijani says that Britain killed Neda Agha-Soltan, the young student who took part in the Green Movement protests after the presidential elections and was, according to eyewitnesses, gunned down by regime loyalists.

Every authoritarian regime has comic-sounding apologist who helps keep up dictatorial appearances. Comical Ali was Saddam Hussein's. It would appear that Mohammad Javas Larijani is keen to take on this role for Iran's rulers. If he survives the revolution which might one day sweep Tehran's regime from power, and takes time to think back on his remarks and actions, he will no doubt cringe at the thought of this Newsweek interview. But it will probably be the least of his worries - as he files for Canadian asylum.