Best Known For
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is best known as the controversial sixth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, serving from 2005 to 2013.
After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entered politics. He was elected President of Iran in 2005. His pursuit of a nuclear program and anti-Israeli rhetoric has put him at odds with the United States and much of Europe.
Muammar al-Qaddafi rose through the ranks of the military and seized control of Libya in 1969. He demonstrated eccentric behavior and an oppressive ruling style until he was overthrown and killed in a revolution.
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At first, the protests were very large and generally peaceful. But the government remained steadfast in its insistence of Ahmadinejad's victory. On June 15, a crowd of somewhere between 100,000 and 3 million protestors jammed the streets of Tehran to see opposition candidate Mousavi make his first post-election appearance. As the government increased its crackdown on civil disobedience, Ahmadinejad tried to reassure the Iranian media that the protesters were inconsequential,
comparing the lively demonstrations to the exuberance of a soccer game.
But as the protests moved into their second week, cell phone and digital cameras recorded the unprecedented demonstrations and leaked them to the world. On June 20, 2009, citizen journalism captured the on-camera slaying of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young college graduate who went with a friend to paricipate in one of the protests. When she stepped out of her car, she was struck in the chest with a single bullet which pierced her heart, killing her. The images of Neda's death traveled to hundreds and then thousands of cell phones, and computers sent the story to millions of viewers. Her death became a symbol of Iranian government oppression.
Protests and government reaction continued to ebb and flow with unconfirmed reports of violence and defiance. On the inside, several clerics and high officials began to openly question the election results and demand a wider investigation. According to Iranian press reports, 105 of the 290 members of the Iranian Parliament attended the June 24th victory party for Ahmadinejad, suggesting a deep divide within the political elite over the election and its aftermath. On June 29, 2009, Iran's electoral board completed the partial recount and declared Ahmadinejad the winner. The protests, however, continued throughout June and into July 2009. By early August 2009, the election results remained in dispute, with both Mousavi and Ahmadinejad convinced they had won.
On August 3, 2009, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei formally endorsed Ahmadinejad as president. Iranian political figures, including former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani avoided the ceremony. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi also kept his distance from the event.
Ahmadinejad's reign came to an end after eight years in office. On June 15, 2013, Hassan Rouhani was named Ahmadinejad's presidential successor, slated to take office in early August 2013.
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