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And in a video posted separately on social media, Hashemi said that Khadija, wife of the Prophet Mohammed, was "a businesswoman", but added with a smile that he went on to "waste the money" of his wife.

It was "a joke... without any intention of causing insult", she later pointed out, state news agency IRNA reported.

Hashemi's late father was a moderate who advocated improved ties with the West and the United States.

Hashemi was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail in late 2012 on charges of "propaganda against the Islamic republic".

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