Book lover Esmail Azarinejad is a far cry from the Iranian theocrats who rail against America

“It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy,” the Iranian cleric reads aloud. He has taken off his clerical robe, put aside his white turban and is trying to entertain a group of children in one of Iran’s poorest villages.

In between phrases, he troops back and forth to make sure everyone is listening. “Are you with me?” he asks. “What did Bear want to do?” The children, who are painting their school walls, reply: “Bear had a story to tell.”

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Read More No turban, no sermon, just books for kids: meet Iran’s travelling cleric

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