At the conclusion of nuclear negotiations in Oslo last week, President Barack Obama “again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa” issued by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, barring development of nuclear weapons, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) observed in a report published this week.
“Since Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, this framework gives Iran the opportunity to verify that its program is, in fact, peaceful,” Obama said.
“This assertion by the president is not true,” said MEMRI, a Washington-based organization that translates documents and public statements from Persian, Arabic, and other languages into English.
The report issued this week is the organization’s sixth on the nonexistent fatwa since April 2012. It includes MEMRI’s translation of a July 16, 2014, article posted on BBC’s Persian-language service by an Iranian legal expert named Bahman Aghai Diba doubting the very existence of the fatwa.
Diba wrote that the failure to post the fatwa on any of Khamenei’s websites – where detailed descriptions of many other fatwas actually appear – casts doubt on its existence.
Fatwas, he wrote, are “organized according to words, languages, and topics. However, such an important fatwa – a fatwa that bans nuclear weapons – on which many high-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic rely appears nowhere.”
Moreover, Diba added, its text “is not found on any website, nor in any of the numerous collections of the Supreme Leader’s publications that are published by the Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of the Leader, nor in any language.”
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