Ahmadinejad: The granny in the drawing room

Ahmadinejad’s take on the “best” age for marriage undermines his lofty reputation.

Atika Rehman November 24, 2010
“The best age for marriage is between 16 to 18 for girls and 19 to 21 for boys,” a Mardomsalari newspaper quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying on Sunday.

For a figure with his political stature and notoriously brazen statements (remember “Anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury”?), Ahmadinejad’s take on the “best” age for marriage undermines his lofty reputation. Primarily, the claim that there is, indeed, a “best” age for marriage is overwhelmingly tall, and what it really does is make me think that deep down beneath that façade of guts and crazy statements, Ahmedinajad is a batty old granny.

For a leader who speaks so confidently about nuclear weapons and mass graves awaiting American soldiers, his statement has exposed his intellectual naiveté and given me something to laugh about. I imagined him sitting with a bunch of Pakistani grandmothers at a relative’s house, cup of tea in one hand, glasses slid down his nose, musing about the “ripe” age for a girl’s marriage, claiming that they become “too fast and out of control” or “get Western ideas” if their marriage is delayed. It seems that he is hoping to gather support among young voters who prefer to do nothing more than daydream and reproduce. Marriage is a serious commitment and is one that should be honoured; expecting a sixteen-year old girl to understand that is unfair, no matter what the moral police in Ahmadinejad's head says.

It reminds me of the time where he claimed that there are no homosexuals in Iran. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don't know who has told you that we have it," he said in a speech at a top University. Just like my grandmother who refused to acknowledge that men are capable of loving other men, Ahmedinajad reacted to it like an ostrich.

In a country where the legal age for marriage is 16, statements like these from a "bold" and "outspoken" leader are a joke. It's time he crawls out of the hole he seems to be living in, and faces reality.
Atika Rehman
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