Self-styled Iranian prophet vows to oust clerics

Iran's clerical leadership will fall on Friday, if Iranian self-styled prophet Ahura Pirouz Khaleghi Yazdi -- whose broadcasts on a U.S.-based satellite channel have become hot gossip in Iran -- is to be believed.

Khaleghi's Web site (, based in California, says he will return to Iran on Friday to remove the "Terrorist Regime" using good thoughts, good words and good deeds, the central tenets of Zoroastrianism, Iran's pre-Islamic religion.

But Khaleghi's rhetoric has ruffled few feathers among the country's rulers.

"If they wanted to, they could easily have blocked his Web site. It is a sign they are not that worried," said one Tehran resident, Karim.

Although many Persian Weblogs dismiss the man as a lunatic, numerous protesters at minor pro-democracy demonstrations on Sunday said they were responding to his call.

Khaleghi, an aviation consultant, says he will charter 50 aeroplanes to bring the Iranian diaspora back from exile, in a clear parallel to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's arrival at the advent of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"Everybody says Ahura is coming," said one grocer in central Tehran. "Even I know his Web site address and I do not have access to a computer. It is crazy, my friends in (the cities of) Shiraz and Isfahan are talking about him."

A state radio comedy on Friday mornings has turned Khaleghi into a figure of fun, dancing the "babakaram", a sultry Arabian-style dance on his return to Iran.


His choice of arrival date is no accident. Friday is not only a major Zoroastrian festival but also the birthday of the Mahdi, the 12th of the Shi'ite Imams, descendants of the prophet Mohammad, who disappeared in the ninth century.

Iranian Shi'ites, many of whom believe the Mahdi will return to save the country, will be celebrating on Friday, packing the streets under gawdy decorations, handing out pastries.

Although Khaleghi's Web site is loaded with Zoroastrian iconography, the hardline newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami pointed out that his real name was the Muslim-sounding "Fatollah", and played on his lowly origins as a sergeant in the Shah's airforce.

"Ahura Pirouz" means victory of Ahura, the Zoroastrian good God who fought Ahriman, the embodiment of evil.

"The risible claims of this charlatan, using U.S. satellite channels, have brought a few impressionable people onto the streets," Jomhuri-ye Eslami wrote in its editorial.

While some Iranians complained on Tuesday that Khaleghi's platform, the "Rangarang" (Multicoloured) channel, was being scrambled, Persian gossip columns have mainly suggested that he needs urgent psychiatric attention. Some joke the Iranian airforce will simply shoot him down in mid-air.

But his Web site still sports a digital clock, counting down to the day he will arrive in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square.