Hossein Mousavi Biography

Academic, Architect, Artist, Prime Minister(1941–)
Hossein Mousavi was the one-time prime minister of Iran who, as a candidate opposing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, contested the 2009 presidential elections.

Synopsis

Born on September 29, 1941 in Khameneh, Iran, Hossein Mousavi studied architecture before helming the Islamic Republican Party and becoming prime minister. After taking time away from politics, Mousavi ran for president in 2009, contesting the declared results that placed incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as winner. Mousavi was later placed under house arrest, where he's still held as of fall 2013.

Political Activist

Iranian political leader, painter and architect Hussein Mousavi was born on September 29, 1941, in Khameneh, Iran. The son of tea merchant, Mir-Esma'il Mousavi, the young Mousavi grew up in Khameneh, the hometown of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei. Mousavi is the grandson of Khomenei's paternal aunt.

Mousavi earned his undergraduate degree from the National University of Iran. While in school for his bachelor's in architecture he joined the Islamic Society, and was an active member of several Islamic societies on campus. After graduation in 1969, he attended Shahid Beheshti University, where he attained a master's degree in architecture, focusing primarily on traditional Iranian structures.

Mousavi took an active role in politics and later told reporters that he was imprisoned for organizing protests against the monarchy under the Shah of Iran. While little is known of his time under the Shah, it is known that he helped found the Islamic Republican Party in 1979, in order to assist the overthrow of Iran's monarchy during the Iranian Revolution. The party supported the establishment of a theocracy in Iran, and helped organize strikes and demonstrations all over the country. During this time, Mousavi served as the chief editor of Jomhouri-e Eslami newspaper for the party.

Prime Minister

The shah left Iran in exile in January 1979. Several weeks later, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to establish a theocratic government. In 1981, during the restructuring of the government of the Republic of Iran, Mousavi was appointed foreign minister. He held the post for five months before receiving a higher appointment of prime minister.

Mousavi served as prime minister for eight years, during which time he guided the country through its war with Iraq, and earned popular acclaim for his stewardship of the national economy. He was the pioneer of the voucher-based economy, which many believe was responsible for the fair distribution of goods among the people at a crucial time during the Iraqi war.

Relations with the West

In addition, he was appointed to the leadership council of Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group, Hizballah, in 1982. Due to his involvement with Hizballah, Mousavi held a prominent role in the Iran-Contra affair. The highly publicized scandal revealed that President Ronald Regan had illegally traded arms with Iran in exchange for the release of seven American hostages held by the Iranian-sponsored militants in Lebanon.

Mousavi worked closely with Khomenei in the bargaining process, promising the U.S. that they would release hostages in September 1985. Profits from the arms sales to Iran were to be used to buy weapons for Nicaragua's right-wing group, the Contras. Congress had forbidden the Reagan administration from supporting the Contras, and negotiating with hostage-takers, terrorists or Iran. As a result of the dealings, Regan was nearly impeached.

Mousavi is also known for severing ties with Great Britain after their refusal to disavow Salman Rushdie, the British author whose book, The Satanic Verses told the fictional story of a group of Qur'an verses allowing for prayers of intercession to be made to three Pagan Meccan goddesses. The story angered the Ayatollah Khomeini, who declared a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death in 1989.

Ousted from Government

In 1989, Ali Rafsanjani was elected president of Iran. At this time, Mousavi held a prominent role in the Iranian government as not only the prime minister but as a presidential adviser and member of several councils, including the High Council of Cultural Revolution and the Expediency Discernment Council. Rafsanjani decided to oust several members from government during this time, and the prime minister's position was removed by a constitutional amendment. Mousavi was not invited to be a participant in the new regime, and disappeared from the public sphere.

That same year, Mousavi returned to architecture and teaching, becoming the president of the Iranian Academy of Arts, one of the four academies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He further receded from public life, which many took as a sign of his disapproval of the regime of the time.

In 1997, former cabinet minister Mohammed Khatami was elected to the presidency after Mousavi refused to run for president. Instead, the architect served as the Senior Adviser to the President. In 2005, Mousavi was considered as the leading candidate in the Iranian presidential election, but he officially declined the proposal in 2004 after a meeting with President Mohammad Khatami.

2009 Elections

In March 2009, Mousavi announced his bid to run in the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Running on the issues of social justice, equality, and freedom of expression Mousavi criticized the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That same month, Khatami withdrew from the race in support of Mousavi. Many predicted a landslide victory for Mousavi, but on June 12, 2009, votes showed Ahmadinejad winning by a landslide—62.63 percent of the vote to Mousavi's 33.75.

Despite the loss Mousavi, who believe the vote was fixed by Ahmadinejad ally and interior minister Sadegh Mahsouli, called for his supporters to rally in his favor. At least seven people were killed at the mass rally held by tens of thousands of Mousavi supporters, many of whom were slain after they tried to attack a military post near Tehran's Azadi Square. Still others were wounded when protesters tried to destroy public property.

Mousavi appealed to the Guardian Council for a cancellation of the election results. The council agreed on a re-count of disputed ballot boxes in the presidential election, and acknowledged that there were voting irregularities in 50 electoral districts. The council, however, insisted the problems do not affect the outcome of the vote. Protests continue.

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