A leading Iranian cleric has chided President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying that his late Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez will be resurrected along with Jesus, the International Business Times reported Thursday, citing the semi-official online news site Khabar.
“It would have been sufficient to simply send a diplomatic message without getting involved in ideological issues” or “religious connotations,” Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, Tehran’s Friday prayer leader, was quoted as saying. Ahmadinejad’s message was an “exaggeration,” he added.
“I have no doubt that (Chavez) will come back, along with Christ the Savior, the heir to all saintly and perfect men, and will bring peace, justice and perfection for all,” said Ahmadinejad, according to a translation by The Guardian newspaper.
Khatami criticized the president for carelessness, knowing that such a remark could provoke reactions within Iran’s religious institutions.
Ahmadinejad and Chavez were close allies, declaring themselves an “axis of unity” against “U.S. imperialism.”
Chavez, 59, was declared dead on March 5 after struggling with cancer.