In a speech in Iran’s Khuzestan province today, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he “received a message that said, ‘If you become too bold, you’ll pay for it.’”
The president continued, “They ask, ‘Why are you traveling at the end of your term?’ Does it make a difference if it’s the end of the term or the beginning?” As president, Ahmadinejad spent a considerable portion of his time traveling to Iran’s various provinces to shore up support for his administration. He is accused of doing so now to campaign in an unofficial capacity for his ally Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, who has not yet announced his candidacy. The message of which Ahmadinejad speaks to is most likely in reference to his bold campaigning efforts and statements.
Ahmadinejad said that he was told that if he continued, he “would be confronted.” He responded, “Go ahead and confront; you’re nobody to want to confront the Iranian nation. The nation of Iran never flinched against the superpowers, and hit them in the mouth, and they will do so again, and you’re a nobody. Each and everyone one of you, if we expose you, you will not have a place in Iran.” Ahmadinejad has often conflated the Iranian people and nation with his own administration, and has often threatened to expose the behind-the-scenes information of political enemies.
The president said that “whatever you tried to do against the Iranian nation; you failed. And you and your corrupt followers inside the country cannot stop the movement of the nation of Iran.” The president has previously accused certain political enemies in Sepah (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) of various types of financial corruption. Ahmadinejad continued, “We have to build Iran with work, effort and unity. The Iranian nation will not pass up on its rights and will insist on them, and will send you to the dustbin.”
On the same trip to Khuzestan, a minor event took place during another speech by Ahmadinejad, who was accompanied by Mashaei. An individual in the audience rose and said, “Give permission for Mashei to speak, so we can become familiar with his views and beliefs.” Immediately, several other audience members protested the request, saying, “We came here to listen to the president, not anybody else.” Still, Mashaei, who was standing next to the president, approached the podium and spoke briefly. The president then took over again and said, “I hope the opportunity will become available to listen to Mashei’s words.”
Mashaei has been attacked fiercely for promoting a so-called “Iranian school of thought,” which traditional and hard-line clerics claim stands against the “Islamic school of thought” that the Islamic Republic of Iran promotes. Ahmadinejad addressed these accusations.
“When the name Iran is mentioned, some express unhappiness and concern,” the president said. “When the name Iran is used, it’s used in the context of being the base for the call of all the values of humanity and divinity. Iran is not a race or tribe that stands against other tribes of the world. And using the name Iran should not mean nationalism, because we believe that nationalism belongs to the backwardness of history. The Iranian nation has always been worldly and has always pursued worldly goals and ideals.”