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Iran’s Mandela

March 8, 2010, 5:37 AM
Iran has found its own bastion for liberation, comparable to South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, in the form of the defeated opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, writes The New Republic. “Mir Hossein Mousavi Khamenei was born in 1941 in the northwestern city of Khameneh. He is, as his full surname suggests, a distant relative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—his lifelong nemesis. His father was a tea merchant of modest means. When he left home for the newly established National University in Tehran, he didn’t land in the coveted schools of medicine, engineering, or law. Still, it was pretty impressive for a kid from the provinces to win entry into the Faculty of Art and Architecture. At the time Mousavi started, the National University was filled with children of the upper class. But, before he finished there, the state nationalized the institution and diversified its socioeconomic composition. It became a hotbed of opposition to the Shah. Mousavi, in fact, helped create and shape the school’s Islamic student association, one such anti-regime outpost. By the time he received a master’s degree in architecture in the late ’60s, the politics of the Iranian intelligentsia had begun to shift. Modern men and women no longer equated Islam with superstition. Mousavi began hanging out at the Hosseiniye Ershad—a meeting place built by some of the more moderate supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini.”

Iran’s Mandela

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