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Ahmadinejad Under Fire For Hugging Chavez's Mother

Ahmadinejad has come under criticism over a picture that shows him holding the hands of Elena Frias, Chavez's mother, and comforting her during the March 8 funeral in Caracas.  In the controversial picture, posted on some Iranian news sites and widely shared on social media, Frias is seen leaning on Ahmadinejad while they hold hands and appear to be crying. According to Islamic rules applied in Iran, unrelated men and women are not allowed to touch. Iranian officials and diplomats often bow instead of shaking hands with female foreign officials. Several conservative lawmakers have criticized Ahmadinejad over the picture and said that he violated Islamic norms. Lawmaker Mohammad Mehdi Pourfatemi said that senior clerics should condemn Ahmadinejad's behavior and not allow him to do whatever "anti-Islamic" moves he likes.  Another lawmaker, Mohammad Dehghan, did not name the Iranian president but said that the behavior of "a senior executive government official" had not been dignified. Ahmadinejad has not publicly reacted to the criticism over the picture or for his comments saying that Chavez will be resurrected alongside Jesus and the Hidden Imam. However, parliamentary deputy Hojatoleslam Mohammad Reza Mirtajedini, who traveled to Caracas with Ahmadinejad, denies that the president embraced Chavez's mother. "They have altered the picture so that it is interpreted this way," he said. "There was no embracing." He added that Ahmadinejad was trying not to hurt the feelings of Chavez's mother, who he said referred to Ahmadinejad as "her son." He said Frias was very emotional and that she tried to hold Ahmadinejad's hand but that the Iranian president would pull his hands away.

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