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Iran's President Renews Interest in 'Hidden Imam'

It is said that in the 10th century, the 12th and last Imam of the Shiite branch of Islam disappeared. He is said to be hidden by God and will reappear at the end of history to lead an era of Islamic justice. But lately, actions by -- and rumors about -- Iran's president have renewed interest in the 12th Imam.

Centuries ago, this holy person is said to have disappeared, hidden by God, but kept alive since then, to reappear at the end of history to lead an era of Islamic justice. The belief, which helped to inspire Iran's Islamic Revolution 27 years ago, diminished in importance over the years.

Now it has found renewed inspiration in Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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Mike Shuster
Mike Shuster is an award-winning diplomatic correspondent and roving foreign correspondent for NPR News. He is based at NPR West, in Culver City, CA. When not traveling outside the U.S., Shuster covers issues of nuclear non-proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the Pacific Rim.