Ahmadinejad says rivals use Hitler tactics

Iran campaign ends, poll on Friday

Ahmadinejad was speaking at a rally in Tehran on the final day of an increasingly bitter and hard-fought election campaign, in which he faces a growing challenge from moderate former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Mousavi and the two other candidates say Ahmadinejad has lied about the state of the economy which is suffering from high inflation and a fall in oil revenues from last year’s record levels.

‘Insult to president’

Ahmadinejad said his rivals had broken laws against insulting the president. “No one has the right to insult the president, and they did it. And this is a crime. The person who insulted the president should be punished, and the punishment is jail,” he told supporters outside Tehran’s Sharif University.

“Such insults and accusations against the government are a return to Hitler’s methods, to repeat lies and accusations... until everyone believes those lies,” Ahmadinejad said.
Insulting senior officials, including the president, is a crime in Iran carrying a maximum two-year jail sentence.

The hardline president has accused Mousavi’s supporters, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of corruption. Rafsanjani responded angrily, calling on the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader to rein in Ahmadinejad.

The other side

Mousavi accuses Ahmadinejad of isolating Iran with his vitriolic attacks on the United States, his combative line on Iran’s nuclear policy and his questioning of the Holocaust.
He advocates easing nuclear tensions, while rejecting demands that Tehran halt nuclear work which the West fears could be used to make bombs. Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

Friday’s election will not change Tehran’s nuclear policy, which is decided by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but a victory for Mousavi could herald a less confrontational relationship with the West.

The three-week election campaign has seen rising support for Mousavi.

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