Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh is an Iranian reformist politician, painter and architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was a candidate for the 2009 Iran's presidential election. Mousavi served as the president of the Iranian Academy of Arts until 2009 when he was removed by Conservative authorities.
He was the last Prime Minister in Iran before the 1989 constitutional changes which removed the post of prime minister. Before that, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs in de cabinet of Prime Minister Hojatoleslam Mohammad Javad Bahonar. He is also a member of the Expediency Discernment Council and the High Council of Cultural Revolution. In the early years of the revolution, Mousavi was the editor-in-chief of the official newspaper of the Islamic Republic Party, the Islamic Republic newspaper. In 2009 presidential election, Mousavi chose green as his campaign color, which has since become the symbolic color of protest against the Iranian regime. He is the Leader of the Green Movement. In 2010, Time Magazine named Mousavi one of the most influential leaders of the world.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi was born on 2 March 1942 in Khameneh, East Azarbaijan, Iran. He is an ethnic Azerbaijani. His father, Mir-Ismail, was a tea merchant from Tabriz. Mousavi grew up in Khameneh, and moved to Tehran following his graduation from high school in 1958. Mousavi is a blood relative of fellow Khameneh native Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader; Mousavi's grandmother is Khamenei's paternal aunt.
In the early sixties as a young man, Mousavi had a close relationship with the Freedom Movement of Iran, a religious-nationalist political party founded by Mehdi Bazargan, Yadolah Sahabi and Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani.
He received his master's degree in architecture from the National University of Tehran (now Shahid Beheshti University) in 1969, focusing primarily on traditional Iranian architecture. While a student, he was an active member of the leftist Islamic association of students, and regularly attended Ali Shariati's lectures at Hosseiniyeh Ershad of Tehran.
In 1969, Mousavi married Zahra Rahnavard (born Zohreh Kazemi), a fellow university student who was among the well-known students of Ali Shariati. Rahnavard later became the Chancellor of Alzahra University as well as political adviser to Iran's former President Mohammad Khatami.
Mousavi and his wife played an active role in the success of the Iranian revolution. In the later stages of the revolution he joined ranks with Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who was a close associate of the revolution leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. Mousavi helped Beheshti to found the Islamic Republican Party (Hezbe Jomhouri-e Eslami) in 1979, in order to assist the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran. He became the political secretary of the party, and chief editor of “Jomhouri-e Eslami”, the party's official newspaper.
In the January 1979 Shah left Iran for exile and several weeks later Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran and the revolution was succeeded in toppling the monarchy. After the victory of revolution, Mousavi helped Ayatollah Beheshti and others (Hojatoleslam Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Hojatoleslam Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Hojatoleslam (now Ayatollah) Ali Khamenei, and Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi-Ardabili, clergies close to Ayatollah Khomeini) to found the Islamic Republic Party in 1979 in order to mobilize popular support for the Islamic Republic, and establish theocracy in Iran. He became the political secretary of the party, and chief editor of Jomhouri-e Eslami, the party's official newspaper.
In mid-1979, Ayatollah Khomeini appointed him to the Iranian Council of Islamic revolution. As the chief editor of Jomhouri-e Eslami, he was a loud critic and opponent of Abolhassan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, who was subsequently impeached by the parliament (Majles) and forced to flea for his life to France.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Pope John Paul II
On August 15, 1981, as part of the restructuring of the government by new president Mohammad Ali Rajai and his Prime Minister Hojatoleslam Mohammad Javad Bahonar's cabinet, Mousavi was appointed foreign minister. A month later, in a bomb explosion President Rajai and his Prime Minister Bahonar ware assassinated. This time by the third presidential election Hojatoleslam Ali Khamenei was elected president of Islamic Republic. He put forward Ali Akbar Velayati as his prime minister, but the Iranian parliament (Majles) did not give him the vote of confidence, and he was defeated with 80 to 74 votes. Though President Ali Khamenei had strong disagreements with Mousavi, as a compromise with the left-leaning parliament, agreed to offer him the post of Prime Minister. On October 28 1981, the parliament (Majles) approved Mousavi with a vote of 115 to 39. Mousavi became the 79th prime minister of Iran on 31 October 1981, and remained in his post until 3 August 1989.
The conflicts and disagreements between Mousavi, who belonged to the left wing of the Islamic Republic, with president Ali Khamenei, who belonged to the right wing of the Islamic Republic, continued during their eight years of shared governance. Shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, an escalation in conflicts between the two led to Mousavi's resignation. As the prime minister, Mousavi always enjoyed the full backing of Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme leader, and he refused to accept his resignation. Mousavi is remembered as leading a government that did not tolerate dissent.
Mousavi's premiership coincided with the Iran-Iraq war 1980-88. He guided the country through its war with Iraq, and earned popular acclaim for his stewardship of the national economy. He pioneered a bond-based economy, which many believe was responsible for a fair distribution of goods among the people throughout the 8 years war with Iraq.
In 1986, Mousavi played a great role in the Iran-Contra affair and secret negotiations and dealing with USA on helping them free the American hostages in Lebanon, in return for sale of the American weapons and spare-parts that Iran's army badly needed for Iran-Iraq War.
When Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic died in 1989, Ali Khamenei was elected as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts, Mousavi and his fellow left-wingers lost their main source of support within the establishment. It was the start of 20 years of an almost total absence from public life for Mousavi, though he did sit on two high-level regime councils. His absence from public life was considered by many as a sign of his disapproval of the established regime.
The constitution was amended on July 28, 1989, and approved by Iranian voters in a national referendum with 97% of the votes. According to one of the amendments, the prime minister's position was abolished.
In 1989 Ali Khamenei named him as a member of the Expediency Discernment Council. Mousavi has been a member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution since 1996. He also was the political adviser to president Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997), and senior adviser of president Khatami (1997-2005).
During those years of absence, he partly retired from politics and returned to architecture and teaching, becoming President of the Iranian Academy of Arts. At the same time he was developing his passion for painting and writing poetry. He was a professor at Shahid Beheshti University and later joined the Academic staff of Tarbiat Modares University. He designed buildings such as Kanoon-e Tohid in Tehran, Haft-e-tir Martyr's tomb in Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, Beynolharamein Bazaar in Shiraz, and Salman mosque in the presidential residence. In recent years he has been more active in painting and has participated in many exhibitions.
In 1997 election Mousavi refused to run for President, which caused the reformists to turn to his former Cabinet Minister, then a little-known cleric, Mohammad Khatami, who was elected president by a landslide. During Khatami's administration, Mousavi served as the Senior Adviser to the President.
Mousavi was considered the leading candidate from the reformist alliance to run in the Iranian presidential election, 2005. However, on 12 October 2004 he officially declined the proposal after a meeting with President Mohammad Khatami and the two other top members of one of Iran's main Reformist parties, the Association of Combatant Clerics (Jame Rohaniat-e Mobarez), Mehdi Karroubi and Mohammad Mousavi-Khoiniha.
On March 9, 2009, after 20 years of political silence, Mousavi announced his intention to run in the 10th Iranian presidential election of 2009. He stated that his main goals are to institutionalize social justice, equality and fairness, freedom of expression, to root out corruption and to speed up process of privatization. Mousavi criticized the policies of President Ahmadinejad for his alleged economic mismanagement.
On March 16, 2009, in support of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the former Iranian President Khatami withdrew from the election race.
Mousavi has on numerous occasions expressed his wish to change the constitution in order to remove the existing ban on the private ownership of television stations, as well as transfer the control of the law-enforcement forces to the President from the Supreme Leader.
On May 30, Mousavi pledged that if elected president he would amend "discriminatory and unjust regulations" against women, and take other measures in favor of women's rights and equality.
Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife among the supporters
Mousavi has addressed foreign policy activation to boost national interest by reducing tensions with other nations. This includes negotiating with U.S. President Barack Obama if "his actions are in keeping with his words". Mousavi has condemned Ahmadinejad's attitude toward The Holocaust (namely, that it was a "a myth"), and condemned the killing of Jews in the Holocaust.
The election was held on June 12, 2009. The official results showed Ahmadinejad winning by a landslide, though Mousavi and many others believed the results to be fraudulent, suggesting that the Interior Ministry has interfered with the election and distorted the votes to keep Ahmadinejad in power for the second term. Mousavi has claimed victory, and asked his supporters to protest the outcome of the election. There have been large protests as a result in major cities of Iran, in numbers not seen since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “Where is my vote” was the slogan used by protesters to express their disappointment of the election result.
Due to protests, from the opposition, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei ordered partial recount of the results. The recount was random counting of 10% of the ballots. In order to create transparency, a 12-member council, showed the recount on television, and concluded that President Ahmadinejad still led Mousavi after the recount. After the recount, the Guardian council certified the correctness of election and ruled out any irregularities.
Finally Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei formally endorsed Ahmadinejad as President on 3 August 2009, and Ahmadinejad was sworn in for a second term in office on 5 August.
Mousavi and his supporters have not accepted the official conclusion and endorsement of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The protests have continued and resulted in the birth of “Green Movement” of Iran.
In Februar 2011, Mousavi and another opposition figure, Mehdi Karroubi, along with their wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi, were put under house arrest after they urged their supporters to organize demonstrations in solidarity with the pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia.