Iranian Officials Mock Self-Styled Exile Savior

Iranian officials have poured scorn on a self-styled "savior" who says he will return from exile on Friday to witness the collapse of the Islamic state's clerical leadership.

Ahura Pirouz Khaleghi Yazdi, who lives in California, says he will join celebrations in Tehran on Friday to mark the end of the 25-year-old Islamic Republic -- but has not explained how this political upheaval will occur.

Khaleghi's broadcasts on U.S.-based satellite television channels have become hot gossip in his native country, though very few people take his claims seriously.

"This person (Khaleghi) has serious psychological problems and is trying to brainwash Iranian youth," the Etemad newspaper on Thursday quoted Tehran police chief Morteza Talai as saying.

"He has five wives and is not even able to manage his own personal life."

Khaleghi, an aviation consultant, says he will charter 50 aeroplanes to bring exiles home to see Islamic rule end.

"The Persian people have the ability to take back their country and it will happen in a short period of time," he says in an interview published on his Web site (, which features a clock counting down to his return.

Khaleghi said he was ready to die for his cause, but that Iran's leaders knew that "if they kill me they make me a hero for our history."

Riot police were called out in the capital this week to control a small pro-democracy demonstration that appeared to have been inspired by Khaleghi.

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said it was "of no importance."

"The country's enemies are trying to portray a shaky image of Iran's political situation which in fact is more stable than ever," Talai said.

Among ordinary Iranians, conspiracy theories abound. Some even say the clerical leaders are using him as a ploy to discredit opponents.

Adding to the intrigue are Khaleghi's allusions to pre-Islamic Persian heritage and his use of symbolism from Zoroastrianism, Iran's pre-Islamic religion. Friday is a major festival for Zoroastrians, for whom the name Ahura is sacred.

But leading followers of the religion question his credentials.

"There is no such person in the Zoroastrian community as Ahura Khaleghi Yazdi. We do not name our children Ahura because that is the name of (the Zoroastrian) God," said Kourosh Niknami, the Zoroastrian representative to Iran's parliament.

"I believe people like Ahura Khaleghi are trying to damage the country's culture and independence. He is playing with people's emotions by using their culture."

Reuters was unable to reach Khaleghi directly for comment.