President of Iran
Trained at an early age in the Muslim religion, Hassan Routani later studied the law and science. An original revolutionary, Rouhani fled Iran with the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1977 and lived with him in exile until the revolution was over. He and Khomeini then returned to Iran to govern, and Rouhani began a long stretch of varying high-level governmental posts. In 2013, Rouhani ran for the presidency of Iran and won in a landslide over his hardline opponents. Running under the slogan “Moderation and Wisdom,” Rouhani promised change, hoping to move his country more progressively into the future as its seventh president.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was born Hassan Feridon in on November 12, 1948, in Sorkheh, Iran. His family was opposed to the former shah, and this exposed him to national political concerns at an early age. He began studying religion as a youth and attended religious seminaries in the 1960s, learning from prominent Shia scholars. Here he took the surname Rouhani, which means “community of clerics.” In 1969, he enrolled in the University of Tehran and graduated three years later with his bachelor’s degree in judicial law. Rouhani went back to school in the ’90s and earn a master’s degree in public law and a Ph.D. at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. He would later say that the fact that he had to pay his own way through college helped him build character.
After receiving his undergraduate degree, he spent his time traveling across his country and giving anti-shah, pro-Ayatollah Khomeini speeches, which caused him to flee Iran in 1977 because his life was threatened. He became one of the original revolutionaries, joining Khomeini in exile in Paris and speaking to student groups across Europe. After the 1979 revolution, Rouhani returned to Iran with Khomeini and took a role in the new government.
Once back in Tehran and a part of Ayatollah Khomeini’s government, Rouhani began an astonishing string of important governmental positions: secretary and representative of the Supreme Defense Council (1983-88), commander of the Iranian air defenses (1985-91), deputy commander of Iran’s armed forces (1988-89), national security adviser to the president (1989-97) and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (1989-2005).
While he was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Rouhani was the lead negotiator for Iran during the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West, where his demeanor and clerical background earned him the nickname “diplomat sheikh.” When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of whom Rounhani was a vocal critic, became president in 2005, Rouhani resigned from his post as secretary after 16 years.
Rouhani ran against several hardline candidates and won with more than 50 percent of the vote, taking more votes than all five of the other candidates put together. Promising moderation, rationality and more engagement with the outside world, Rouhani called for opening talks with the West and placed the economy ahead of his country’s nuclear program in terms of priorities.
Rouhani was sworn in on August 2, 2013, becoming Iran’s seventh president. His “Moderation and Wisdom” campaign slogan was a success, and his victory signaled a more progressive direction for Iran’s future.
Giving his first speech as president of Iran, Rouhani said, “This victory is the victory of wisdom, moderation and awareness over fanaticism and bad behavior.” He wasted no time in assert himself in international politics. That September, Rouhani traveled to New York to visit the United Nations. He gave a speech to the UN General Assembly, insisting that his country is “absolutely no threat to the world,” according to a Telegraph newspaper report. Rouhani explained that Iran was developing nuclear technology for purely peaceful uses.
A Shiite Muslim, Rouhani has written extensively on religion and other subjects, authoring 20 books, including a three-volume collection on Islamic political thought and his memoirs.
Hassan Rouhani is married and has several children.