Ahmadinejad: I=92m No Bogeyman.
He may be the West's favorite bogeyman but Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadin= ejad insists he's really just another guy. "I am an ordinary person, a fath= er, a husband, a brother, an uncle, a friend," he told AFP in an interview.
"I live just like everyone else," the 53-year-old said with a laugh. "I hav= e a family," made up of a wife, two sons and a daughter. "We go to family g= et-togethers, we go out. We play sports."
The laugh follows a flashing trademark smile that can be disarming when the= subject turns to nuclear ambitions and other weighty issues that plague Ir= an. With Iraq's Saddam Hussein long gone, Ahmadinejad's harangues against I= srael and the United States have earned him the mantle of the man the West = loves to hate.
When he's not launching impassioned tirades against the Great Satan, Ahmadi= nejad says his life is normal for a devout Muslim living in the Islamic Rep= ublic. =93Who said I hate the West?" he asks, turning the original question= on its head. "I just disagree with some of the things done by some politic= ians who are not honest and behave badly in the West."
The blacksmith's son does not open up during the 45-minute chat in a five-s= tar airport hotel decked out with Christmas trees and lights. Asked if he i= s aware or concerned about how he is portrayed as a bogeyman in the West, t= he brush-off reply takes a full five minutes, just like the answers to most= questions. And interrupting the verbal flow is not easy.
For a major player strutting the world stage, Ahmadinejad certainly cuts an= unusual, petite figure close-up in the flesh. His dark eyes light up in co= nversation, particularly when he turns to the "no fear" leitmotif that pepp= ers his discourse.
"We are not afraid of America," he repeats over and over, demanding respect= and honesty from the international community as a pre-requisite for improv= ed diplomatic relations and perhaps a deal on Iran's uranium enrichment pro= gram.
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