Officials fire Iranian governor after divination

A newly appointed governor in northern Iran has been dismissed after officials asked for guidance from God through divination, according to a media report Saturday.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency said the interior minister had appointed Ali Babaei Karnami governor of Sari late last month but that he was dismissed Tuesday as a formal ceremony was being organized for him to take up the position.

"Since divination showed a bad result, we preferred to look for another choice," the news agency quoted Provincial Governor Ali Akbar Tahaei as saying.

He did not specify who carried out the divination process or how it was conducted and there is no legal recourse for such terminations. There was no immediate comment from Karnami.

Devoted religious people in Iran use the process of divination to gain spiritual insight into their questions. One way is to open Islam's holy book, the Quran and if the Quranic verses are promising, the pending decision is fine. If the wording is negative, then it is not. Another way is to count prayer beads.

"Karnami should not be irritated for not taking up the post because I'll need him to serve at a provincial municipality posting," he was quoted as saying.

Tahaei said Mohammad Ali Pishnamazi, a provincial security official, has been named as the new governor.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under biting criticism in recent months from fellow conservatives. Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, said last month that the president was under a "spell" from his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei.

Iran's opposition leader Mir Hossein has in the past accused Ahmadinejad's government of suffering from "emotionalism, superstition, and extremism."