Thursday, June 16, 2005

People's Daily Online -- Rafsanjani shows "human side"

People's Daily Online -- Rafsanjani shows "human side": "
Home >> World
UPDATED: 12:25, June 16, 2005
Rafsanjani shows "human side"

In an eagerly awaited election broadcast on Monday, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani removed his turban, had a haircut and watched a football match, hoping a view of his sensitive, human side would attract last minute voters.

The 70-year-old ayatollah, the frontrunner in an election that is appearing increasingly close, went out of his way to portray himself as an ordinary man in touch with Iran's youthful population.

He also made much of his much publicized agonizing about whether to stand in the election, saying he had finally taken the decision to stand in the vote for the sake of Iran's younger generation.

"It is cruel not to think of the future of the country. We may not be there in the future, but our children will be there, the future will be there and Iran will be there," he said in a slow and emphatic voiceover.

The film was directed by Kamal Tabrizi, best known for his smash comedy "Marmoulak" ("The Lizard").

To the sound of lachrymose Persian music, slow motion images of Rafsanjani showed him visiting industrial plants and admiring development plans, emphasising his role in moving Iran forwards.

But the half-hour video also offered an unprecedented glimpse into Rafsanjani's private side, showing him praying at home, chatting with his family and, unusually for a cleric, without his turban.

Like all politicians in the campaign, Rafsanjani could not resist jumping on the bandwagon of Iran's wildly celebrated victory over Bahrain last week which earned the country qualification for the 2006 football World Cup.

He sits, bareheaded, watching the winning goal on a television as the commentator roars with uncontrolled excitement. "It is so easy to fill people with joy, laughter is indispensable for life," comments Rafsanjani.

But the broadcast also did not shy away from Rafsanjani as the devout cleric who has been at the centre of Iranian politics since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Browsing through a photo album in his library, Rafsanjani looks at snaps of himself with the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran's late revolutionary leader and also images of the Iran-Iraq war, and at one moment, he takes off his turban.

He also is filmed praying at home and walking into his garden as the sunlight plays around his turban.

The modest, humble side of the cleric is also emphasised as he is pictured chatting with his family in a plain-looking room.

The sophisticated video, which closed with an image of Rafsanjani strolling down a long country road with a young girl dressed in white, was a further example of the increasingly slick methods being used by candidates.

"The night is over, and there is a new day of hope rising for Iran. My doubts have gone," Rafsanjani concludes."