TEHRAN, May 9 (UPI) -- Charges of sorcery against a cleric close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad show the height of political turmoil in the country, an analyst said.
A special clerical court last weekend charged Hojjatoleslam Abbas Amirifar with sorcery. Amirifar heads a cultural council for Ahmadinejad and is considered a close aide to the president's chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.
Amirifar was referred to the courts for his support for a film that proposes the Twelfth Imam in the Shiite faith, the supposed initiator of judgment day, would appear soon.
Scott Peterson, who wrote an in-depth book on Iran, tells CNN the sorcery charge is a sign of serious rifts in the political landscape in Iran.
"The scale of Ahmadinejad's political problems are made clear by the charges of sorcery and religious deviation that have been leveled against his chief of staff and some of the closest aides to him," he said.
Ahmadinejad has been at odds with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei over a series of ministerial positions. Ahmadinejad tried to sack Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi because the intelligence agency was allegedly spying on Mashaei. Khamenei blocked the firing of Moslehi, however.