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Hassan Rouhani



Hassan Rouhani (Persian: حسن روحانی‎; born on 12 November 1948)[1] is the 7th and current President of Iran and also a Muslim cleric[2] (with the status of a Shia Mujtahid),[3] lawyer,[4] academic and former diplomat. He has been a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts since 1999,[5] member of the Expediency Council since 1991,[6] member of the Supreme National Security Council since 1989,[7] and head of the Center for Strategic Research since 1992.[8]Rouhani was also deputy speaker of the 4th and 5th terms of the Parliament of Iran (Majlis) and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 1989 to 2005.[8] In the latter capacity, he also headed Iran's former nuclear negotiating team and was the country's top negotiator with the EU three – UK, France, and Germany – on Iran's nuclear program.[9]:138
 
On 7 May 2013, Rouhani registered for the presidential election that was held on 14 June 2013.[10] He said that, if elected, he would prepare a "civil rights charter", restore the economy and improve rocky relations with Western nations.[11][12] Rouhani is viewed as politically moderate.[13] As early vote counts began coming in, he took a large lead.[14] He was elected as President of Iran on 15 June, defeating Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and four other candidates.[13][15][16] He took office on 3 August 2013

Name

He was born Hassan Fereydoun (or Fereydun, in reference to a just king in Persian mythology, Persian: ‌حسن فریدون‎, Persian pronunciation: [hæˌsæn-e feɾejˈdun]) and later changed his last name to Rouhani, which means "spiritual" or "cleric" (Persian: روحانی‎, Standard Persian:  [roʊhɒːˈniː] , or [ruːhɒːˈniː],[18] Tehrani accent: [roːhɒːˈni]; also transliterated as Ruhani, Rowhani, and Rohani). It is not clear when he officially changed his last name. He was named as "Hassan Fereydoon Rouhani" (حسن فریدون روحانی) in a list of Majlis representatives on 5 July 1981,[19] while photos of his identification card (Shenasnameh) taken around his presidential campaign in 2013 only mention "Rouhani" as his last name.[1]

Early life and education

Hassan Rouhani (born Hassan Fereydoun) was born on 12 November 1948[1] in Sorkheh, near Semnan, into a religious family.[20] His father, Haj Asadollah Fereydoun (died 2011),[21] had a spice shop in Sorkheh[22] and his mother lives in Semnan with her daughters and sons-in-law.[1][23] Asadollah Fereydoun is reported to have been politically active against Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah (king) of Iran, and arrested first in 1962, and then more than twenty times before the Iranian Revolution in 1979.[24]Rouhani started religious studies in 1960, first at Semnan Seminary[4]:55 before moving on to the Qom Seminary in 1961.[4]:76 He attended classes taught by prominent scholars of that time including Mohammad Mohaghegh Damad, Morteza Haeri Yazdi, Mohammad-Reza Golpaygani, Soltani, Mohammad Fazel Lankarani, and Mohammad Shahabadi.[4]:81 In addition, he studied modern courses, and was admitted to the University of Tehran in 1969, and obtained a B.A. degree in Judicial Law in 1972.[4]:309–312[8] In 1973, Rouhani entered military service in the city of Nishapur.[25]
 
Rouhani continued his studies at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, graduating in 1995 with an M.Phil. degree in Law with his thesis entitled "The Islamic legislative power with reference to the Iranian experience" and a Ph.D. degree in Constitutional Law in 1999 for a thesis titled "The Flexibility of Shariah (Islamic Law) with reference to the Iranian experience".[26][27] Rouhani's Caledonian research was initially supervised by Iranian lawyer and scholar Professor Sayed Hassan Amin and later by Islamic law scholar Dr Mahdi Zahraa.[28]The website of the Center for Strategic Research, a think-tank headed by Rouhani, misattributed his PhD to Glasgow University rather than Glasgow Caledonian University and confusion ensued as a result on whether he was a graduate of either university, especially as he was known during his student years by his birth name "Hassan Fereydoun".[29] Glasgow Caledonian University carried out an internal investigation to confirm Rouhani's alumnus status and after confirming it, it published Rouhani’s theses abstracts and a video showing him being capped, as Scottish academic tradition provides, during the University's 1999 graduation ceremony.[30][31]Analysis by three bloggers indicated that two passages in his PhD thesis[32] were identical to a 1991 book by Mohammad Hashim Kamali.[32][33][34] The University library confirmed that Rouhani had cited Kamali's work both in the main body of the thesis and in the bibliography and that his theses were under no academic investigation.

Political activities before the Iranian Revolution

As a young cleric Hassan Rouhani started his political activities by following the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the beginning of the Iranian Islamist movement. In 1965, he began traveling throughout Iran making speeches against the government of the Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah (king) of Iran. During those years he was arrested many times and was banned from delivering public speeches.[4]:23In November 1977, during a public ceremony held at Tehran's Ark Mosque to commemorate the death of Mostafa Khomeini (the elder son of the Ayatollah Khomeini), Rouhani used the title "Imam" for the Ayatollah Khomeini, the then exiled leader of the Islamist movement, for the first time.[4]:375[20] It has been suggested that the title has been used for Khomeini by others before, including by the Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr, although Rouhani was influential in publicizing the title.[35][36][37]Since he was under surveillance by SAVAK (Iran's pre-revolution intelligence agency), the Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti and the Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari advised him to leave the country.[4]:385Outside Iran he made public speeches to Iranian students studying abroad and joined Khomeini upon arriving in France.[4]:410

Political career during 1980s and 1990s

Early years of Islamic Republic

Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution in Iran, Rouhani, who had been engaged in revolutionary struggles for about two decades, did his best to stabilize the nascent Islamic Republic and as a first step, he started with organizing the disorderly Iranian army and military bases.[4]:515 He was elected to the Parliament of Iran (Majlis) in 1980.
 
During five terms in the Majlis and for a total period of 20 years (from 1980 to 2000), he served in various capacities including deputy speaker of the Majlis (in 4th and 5th terms), as well as the head of defense committee (1st and 2nd terms), and foreign policy committee (4th and 5th terms).[20Among responsibilities shouldered by him in the post-revolution era was leadership of the supervisory council of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) from 1980 to 1983.[8] In July 1983, while Rouhani was heading the council, the council members and Rouhani had conflicts[38] with Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani the then head of IRIB, which led to temporary replacement of Hashemi by first Rouhani and then immediately Mohammad Javad Larijani.[39] The conflict was resolved by the Ayatollah Khomeini intervening and insisting on Rafsanjani staying as the head of IRIB.[40]

Iran-Iraq war

During the Iran-Iraq war, Rouhani was a member of the Supreme Defense Council (1982–1988), member of the High Council for Supporting War and headed its Executive Committee (1986–1988), deputy commander of the war (1983–1985), commander of the Khatam-ol-Anbiya Operation Center (1985–1988), and commander of the Iran Air Defense Force (1986–1991).[8] He was appointed as Deputy to Second-in-Command of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff (1988–1989).[8]When Robert C. McFarlane, Reagan' national security adviser, came to Tehran in May 1986, Rouhani was one of the three people who talked to McFarlane about buying weapons. Eventually, this weapons sale became known as the Iran-Contra affair.[41][42]At the end of the war, Hassan Rouhani was awarded the second-grade Fath (Victory) Medal along with a group of commanders of the Iranian Army and the Revolutionary Guards. In another ceremony on the occasion of the liberation of Khoramshahr, he and a group of other officials and military commanders who were involved in the war with Iraq were awarded first-grade Nasr Medal by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ayatollah Khamenei.

After the War

Rouhani was offered and turned down the post of the Minister of Intelligence of Iran in 1989.[43]After the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was amended and the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) came into being up to the present time, he has been representative of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, at the council.[8] Rouhani was the first secretary of the SNSC and kept the post for 16 years from 1989 to 2005. He was also national security advisor – to President Hashemi and President Khatami – for 13 years from 1989 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2005.[8] In 1991, Rouhani was appointed to the Expediency Council and has kept that post up to the present time. He heads the Political, Defense, and Security Committee of the Expediency Council.[8]After Iran student protests, July 1999 he, as secretary of Supreme National Security Council, stated in a pro-government rally that "At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur. From today our people shall witness how in the arena our law enforcement force . . . shall deal with these opportunists and riotous elements, if they simply dare to show their faces."[44] and led the crackdown.[45]
 
In the midterm elections for the third term of the Assembly of Experts which was held on 18 February 2000, Rouhani was elected to the Assembly of Experts from Semnan Province. He was elected as Tehran Province's representative to the Assembly's fourth term in 2006 and is still serving in that capacity. He was the head of the political and social committee of the assembly of experts (from 2001 to 2006), member of the presiding board, and head of Tehran office of the secretariat of the assembly (from 2006 to 2008). On 5 March 2013 he was elected as a member of the Assembly's "Commission for investigating ways of protecting and guarding Velayat-e Faqih".[46]In addition to executive posts, Rouhani kept up his academic activities. From 1995 to 1999, he was a member of the board of trustees of Tehran Universities and North Region. Rouhani has been running the Center for Strategic Research since 1991. He is the managing editor of three academic and research quarterlies in Persian and English, which include Rahbord (Strategy), Foreign Relations, and the Iranian Review of Foreign Affairs..[17]
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