Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The 13th Shi'a Imam!

Before the cyber fatwas come flying in, this is a tongue-in-cheek reference by some Iranians to describe President George Bush in light of his inadvertently(!) pro-Shi'a policies. The following article by William Beeman concisely considers the facts:

Iran's security chief, Hassan Rowhani proclaimed in October, 2004 that it was in Iran's best interest for George W. Bush to be re-elected over John Kerry. His comment left American commentators stunned in disbelief. However, it is now clear that Rowhani was right: the Bush administration has done more than any other American leader to advance the interests of Shi'a Islamic political leadership in Iran and indeed, in the rest of the Middle East. Some groups of religious supporters in Iran are beginning to call President Bush "the 13th Imam," an ironic reference to the 12 historical Imams sacred to the branch of Shi'ism dominant in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon.

President Bush's support for Shi'ism may be unintentional, to be sure, but there is no doubt about the effects of his administration's policies in boosting Shi'ite power throughout the region.

William O. Beeman is Professor of Anthropology and Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. This year he is Visiting Professor of Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University. His forthcoming book is The "Great Satan" vs. the "Mad Mullahs:" How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other.
Click here for the full story.

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