Ahmadinejad Staffers Accused of Sorcery

Ayatolah Ali Hkameni says president consorts with "magicians"

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a history of saying wacky stuff, from his strange denials of 9/11 and the Holocaust to his denunciation of the soccer game-predicting octopus, Paul, during the World Cup. But it seems odd accusations are endemic to the halls of power in Tehran. Now, the country's supreme leader Ayatolah Ali Khameni, with whom Ahmadinejad has been locked in a power struggle, has accused the president's inner circle of sorcery. And people are getting arrested over it.

Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds."

The spat between Ahmedinejad and Khameni started when Khameni reinstalled Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi, who Ahmadinejad had fired. Ahmadinejad walked off his job for 11 days, but returned last week. Since then, 25 staffers close to Mashaei have been arrested.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.