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Capital Briefs: Sept. 25-29

Ahmadinejad’s Hidden Imam:

At the end of his bizarre speech at the United Nations last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Allah to send down the Hidden Imam, or the Mahdi, who Shiites believe will come at the end of time.  “I emphatically declare that today’s world, more than ever before … longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised …” said Ahmadinejad.  “Oh, almighty God … Bestow upon humanity … the perfect human being promised to all by you.”

What exactly did this man—who is even now seeking a nuclear weapon—mean?  In Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, originally published in 1910 and available now as edited by Bernard Lewis from Princeton University Press, famed Arabist Ignaz Goldziher explained the Shiite doctrine of the Mahdi.  “The most widely accepted chain of Imams, recognized among Shi’is to this day, is that of the sect of the so-called ‘Twelvers’ (or Imamis).  According to this group, the office of Imam passed from Ali, through his direct descendants, down to an 11th visible Imam, whose son and successor, Muhammad Abu’l-Qasim (b. Baghdad 872), was taken from earth while still a child not yet eight years old.  He has lived since in occultation, invisible to mankind, and will appear at the end of time as the Imam-Mahdi, the savior of the world, to rid the world of all injustice and to establish the rule of peace and righteousness.

This is the so-called ‘Hidden Imam,’ who has continued to live since his disappearance, and whose reappearance is daily awaited by the Shi’i believer.” Twelver Shiism is not only the dominant religion in Iran, it is also the majority religion in Iraq.

Make Him Feel at Home?:

Last year, according to the State Department, the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made it a crime punishable by up to 30 months in jail to insult the President. Too bad New York’s finest couldn’t have made Chavez feel right at home when he spoke at the UN last week by enforcing his own law against him. He could have served out his sentence at Guantanamo, near to his good friend Fidel Castro.

Will Dole Cash Chafee Chit?

With Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.) still keeping John Bolton’s nomination as permanent UN ambassador from going to the full Senate, GOP senators are beginning to ask when National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) will talk to Chafee about relenting. One senator, who requested anonymity, recalled the $1 million spent by Dole’s committee attacking Chafee’s conservative primary opponent Steve Laffey (see cover story in last week’s Human Events) and said: “What the NRSC did to a conservative candidate was disgusting and unprecedented. But it’s done, so why doesn’t Liddy Dole call in the chit with Linc Chafee and get a vote on Bolton?”

GOP Rising:

After months of polls fueling Democratic hopes of capturing Congress, Donald Lambro noted in a  recent column, a  Gallup Poll for USA Today shows Democrats leading Republicans 47% to 45% on the generic question of who should control Congress. That, says Gallup, “represents the Republicans’ best performance in a single poll during the 2006 election cycle on this important measure of electoral strength.”

Post Piling On:

Since August 15, when the Washington Post first reported that Sen. George Allen (R.-Va.) had called a staffer for his opponent James Webb “macaca,” the paper has published approximately 50 different items mentioning the event, according to a Lexis-Nexis search. The initial stories focused on the incident itself and Allen’s extensive apologies for it. Then, however, the Post reached for ever-more creative ways to keep the “macaca” incident alive. These included a lengthy profile of the Webb staffer involved, a report on Allen’s events with minority groups, an examination of Allen’s campaign donations and the role of paid bloggers in the Virginia race.

Last week, the Post appeared to be expanding its anti-Allen crusade to another front. Now, it is focusing on the Jewish ancestry of his mother, who was raised in Tunisia, and who told Allen only a month ago about her Jewish heritage and pledged him to secrecy. The paper even pondered the question of whether she might have taught him the word “macaca.” “Macaca is a genus of monkey and is a French slur for a dark-skinned person. French and Arabic are spoken in Tunis,” the paper said. Allen’s mother, 83, was forced to respond to a front-page Post piece, vehemently denying even knowing the word before her son used it publicly last month.

$2-Billion Breach:

At 7:45 a.m. last Wednesday, Carlos A. Greene, 20, crashed a Chevy Trailblazer through a security checkpoint and, armed with a loaded .22-caliber Derringer, ran into the U.S. Capitol up three floors and down into the basement before being caught by Capitol Police. On his armed tour of the Capitol, Maryland resident Greene, who was under the influence of drugs, ran past the offices of both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R.-Ill.). He was finally detained in the basement near a place where tourists often gather. The security breach comes after Congress has spent $2 billion to protect the Capitol since Sept. 11, 2001.

More on the Mahdi:

In Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, cited also at left in the Brief of the Week, Ignaz Goldziher explained in 1910 how Muslim revolutionaries have used the doctrine of the Mahdi (invoked by Iranian President Ahmadinejad at the UN last week) to propel anti-Western political crusades and wars.

“In the course of Islamic history, this belief could also serve as justification for religious-political rebels who aspired to the overthrow of the existing order,” wrote Goldziher. “It gained them popularity as embodiments of the idea of the Mahdi; it helped them precipitate vast areas of the Islamic world into turmoil and war. Everybody remembers such occurrences from the most recent history of Islam. Even in our own time, aspirants to the role of Mahdi have appeared in various Islamic areas, mostly in order to counter the increasing influence of European states on Muslim territories.”

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