When I was in Isfahan, Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad decided to visit. The Naqsh-e-Jahan square was closed as he was due to make a speech near the Blue Mosque. Early afternoon we watched as crowds of people started making their way towards the square. These were the followers, the believers; the women were all chador-clad, troops of khaki-uniformed Revolutionary Guards ran down the center of the street carrying flags and banners, shouting “ya Hussein”, traditional battle cry of the doomed, some marched more sedately in the shaded avenues leading to the square, while buses were parked everywhere having disgorged the party faithful to the event.
Alireza would not let me take pictures, “these people are very fervent and anything can set them off - it’s better to stay out of their way”. Earlier we had seen a black cat and a raven fighting on the rooftops at the shrine of an Imamzadeh - I thought of Bush and Ahmedinejad. The raven was squawking loudly and hopping about, flapping its wings to get rid of the cat which was aloof, dismissive and unconcerned. Many Iranians think Bush and Ahmedinejad are the same; both engage in saber-rattling designed to whip up people too lazy to think for themselves into a suitably nationalistic frenzy, and both appeal to religious fundamentalists. But Ahmedinejad is a bona fide war veteran.
Giant Posters of the president were everywhere during his visit.