In Waning Hours, Iran Campaigning Gets Ugly

Ahmadinejad Compares Rivals to Hitler, Threatens to Arrest Them

Iran’s hotly contested presidential elections will begin in less than 24 hours, and while the campaigning his been vigorous for weeks, as the opposition looks to narrow the gap with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the two sides have begun condemning one another and making veiled threats.

Yesterday former President Akbar Rafsanjani, a supporter of major opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, issued an open letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. In the letter, Rafsanjani demanded that Khamenei act against Ahmadinejad for what he called “misstatements and fabrications” made during televised debates. If he failed to do so, Rafsanjani warned that Mousavi’s supports would take the law into their own hands.

No stranger to bellicose rhetoric himself, President Ahmadinejad today compared his opponents to Adolf Hitler, and said they had broken laws against insulting the president. Ahmadinejad threatened to jail his opponents over the charges, which could carry a two-year sentence.

Largely quiet in this brouhaha is the ayatollah, who seems content to let the process play at the polls. It will likely be apparent by the weekend which of the candidates has emerged victorious, but with the mean-spirited rhetoric of late it remains to be seen if the loser will face any other repercussions for his defeat.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.