Sayyid Ebrahim Raisolsadati (born 14 December 1960), commonly known as Ebrahim Raisi, is an Iranian conservative Islamist, principlist politician, Muslim jurist, and the 8th and current President of Iran since 3 August 2021, having been elected to the presidency in the 2021 Iranian presidential election.
Raisi passed his primary-education in “Javadiyeh school”; then started studying in the Hawza (Islamic-seminary). In 1975, he went to “Ayatollah Boroujerdi School” in order to continue his education in Qom Seminary. He has claimed to have received a doctorate degree in Private law from Motahari University; however, this has been disputed. After the dispute, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting showed the mentioned degree image.
He began his studies at the Qom Seminary at the age of 15. He then decided to study in the Navvab school for a short time. After that, he went to Ayatollah Sayyed Muhammad Mousavi Nezhad school where he studied while also teaching other students. In 1976, he went to Qom to continue his studies at the Ayatollah Borujerdi school.
He was a student of Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi, Morteza Motahhari, Abolghasem Khazali, Hossein Noori Hamedani, Ali Meshkini and Morteza Pasandideh. Raisi also passed his “KharejeFeqh” (external-Fiqh) to Seyyed Ali Khamenei and Mojtaba Tehrani.
According to Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute, Raisi’s “exact religious qualification” is a “sore point”. “For a while” prior to investigation by the Iranian media, he “referred to himself” as “Ayatollah” on his personal website. However, according to Vatanka, the media “publicized his lack of formal religious education” and credentials, after which Raisi ceased claiming to hold the aforementioned rank.
After this investigation and criticism he “refer[ed] to himself as hojat-ol-eslam“, a clerical rank immediately beneath that of Ayatollah. Raisi subsequently again declared himself an Ayatollah shortly before the 2021 presidential election. The decree by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointing him as President, also refers to him as a hojat-ol-eslam.
In 1981, he was appointed the prosecutor of Karaj. Later on, he was also appointed as Prosecutor of Hamadan and served both positions together. He was simultaneously active in two cities more than 300 km away from each other. After four months, he was appointed as Prosecutor of Hamadan Province.
Tehran deputy prosecutor
He was appointed as Deputy prosecutor of Tehran in 1985 and moved to the capital. After three years and in early 1988, he was placed in the attention of Ruhollah Khomeini and received special provisions (independent from judiciary) from him to address legal issues in some provinces like Lorestan, Semnan and Kermanshah.
Hussein-Ali Montazeri named Raisi as one of the four persons involved in the 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners. Other persons were Morteza Eshraghi (Prosecutor of Tehran), Hossein-Ali Nayeri (Judge) and Mostafa Pourmohammadi (MOI representative in Evin). Names of first two persons are mentioned in Khomeini’s order. Pourmohammadi has denied his role but Raisi has not commented publicly on the matter yet.
The 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners were a series of state-sponsored executions of political prisoners across Iran, starting on 19 July 1988 and lasting for approximately five months. The majority of those killed were supporters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, although supporters of other leftist factions, including the Fedaian and the Tudeh Party of Iran (Communist Party), were executed as well.
According to Amnesty International, “thousands of political dissidents were systematically subjected to enforced disappearance in Iranian detention facilities across the country and extrajudicially executed pursuant to an order issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran and implemented across prisons in the country. Many of those killed during this time were subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the process.”
The killings have been described as a political purge without precedent in modern Iranian history, both in terms of scope and coverup. However, the exact number of prisoners executed remains a point of contention. Amnesty International, after interviewing dozens of relatives, puts the number in thousands; and then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini‘s deputy, Hussein-Ali Montazeri put the number between 2,800 and 3,800 in his memoirs, but an alternative estimation suggests that the number exceeded 30,000. Because of the large number, prisoners were loaded into forklift trucks in groups of six and hanged from cranes in half-hour intervals.
After Khomeini’s death and election of Ali Khamenei as the new Supreme Leader, Raisi was appointed as Tehran prosecutor by newly appointed Chief-Justice Mohammad Yazdi. He held the office for five years from 1989 to 1994. In 1994, he was appointed as head of General Inspection Office.
From 2004 until 2014, Raisi served as First Deputy Chief Justice of Iran, being appointed by Chief Justice Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. He kept his position in Sadeq Larijani‘s first term as Chief Justice.
He was later appointed as Attorney-General of Iran in 2014, a position that he held until 2016, when he resigned to become Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi. He has also served as Special Clerical Court prosecutor by the order of the Supreme Leader, Seyyed Ali Khamenei since 2012.
Raisi was a member of the board of trustees of Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order for ten years by order of Seyyed Ali Khamenei. He was also a member of the “Supreme Selection Board”. He is the founder of “Fatemeh Al-Zahra Seminary” (in Tehran) and the first secretary of the headquarters for reviving the enjoining good and forbidding wrong in the country. He was appointed as the prosecutor of Hamedan province, and was active there for three years since 1982 to 1984.
His other executive and oversight responsibilities include the positions such as: membership in the “Supreme Council of Cyberspace”, “the Monetary and Credit Council”, and “the Anti-Corruption Headquarters”.
Astan Quds chairmanship
He became Chairman of Astan Quds Razavi on 7 March 2016 after the death of his predecessor Abbas Vaez-Tabasi. He is the second person to serve this office from 1979. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei enumerated serving the pilgrims of the holy shrine, especially poor people and also serve nearby, especially the poor and dispossessed as two important responsibilities of Raisi in his appointment order.
2017 presidential election
Raisi was named as one of the Popular Front of Islamic Revolution Forces (JAMNA)’s presidential candidates in February 2017. His candidacy was also supported by the Front of Islamic Revolution Stability.
He officially announced his nomination in a statement published on 6 April, and called it his “religious and revolutionary responsibility to run”, citing the need for a “fundamental change in the executive management of the country” and a government that “fights poverty and corruption.” He registered on 14 April 2017 at Ministry of Interior with saying it’s time to perform citizenship rights, not only writing act.
On 15 May 2017, conservative candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf withdrew his candidacy in favor of Raisi. It was speculated that Ghalibaf would be Raisi’s first vice president if he was elected. They also joined in a campaign rally in Tehran with each other.
After election results were announced, Raisi received 15,786,449 out of 42,382,390 (38.30% of the votes). He lost to Incumbent President Rouhani and ranked second. He did not congratulate Rouhani on his re-election as the president, and asked the Guardian Council to look into “violations of the law” before and during the elections, with 100 pages of attached documentation.
2021 presidential election
Out of 28.9 million votes, around 3.7 million votes were not counted, likely because they were blank or otherwise invalid protest votes.
Almost 600 candidates, 40 of which were female, registered in the election, of which 7 men were approved a month before the election by the 12 jurists and theologians on the Guardian Council (an unelected body that has the final decision on candidate validity based on the strength of ‘the candidates’ qualifications’).
Three of those seven candidates were subsequently pulled out before polling day. Before he withdrew, reformist candidate Mohsen Mehralizadeh hinted that the vote would be a foregone conclusion, saying during a candidates’ TV debate that the ruling clerics had aligned “sun, moon and the heavens to make one particular person the president,” according to The Economist.
Raisi was appointed as the incumbent President of Iran on 3 August 2021, through a decree issued by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. During his inauguration speech, Raisi stated that his government would seek to lift the sanctions on Iran imposed by the United States, but added that it would not let foreigners dictate how its economy is run.
Raisi was sworn-in before the Islamic Consultative Assembly on 5 August during a ceremony attended by around 260 officials, both from Iran and other countries. In his speech, he stated that Iran was actually responsible for stabilising the Middle East, that he would resist foreign pressure on Iran but widen its external relations, especially with Iran’s neighbours, promised to support any diplomatic move to lift the American sanctions and assured that Iran’s nuclear programme was only meant for peaceful purposes. He also promised that he would try to improve the quality of life for Iranians and defend human rights.
Possible successor as Supreme Leader
In 2019, Saeid Golkar of Al Jazeera called Raisi “the most likely successor of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei” as Supreme Leader of Iran. In 2020, Dexter Filkins described him as “frequently mentioned” as a successor to Khamenei.
Raisi supports sex segregation. He said in a 2014 interview about a planned segregation in Tehran Municipality that “I think this is a good move because the majority of women do a better job in a totally relaxed atmosphere and fit are required.” He is also a supporter of Islamization of universities, revision of the Internet and censorship of Western culture. Raisi claims he sees economic sanctions as an opportunity. Raisi said: “We will have guidance patrols, but for managers.”
He also said: “If the government does well, the people will do well.” He has said that the amputation of thieves’ hands, which is based on a very strict interpretation of Sharia, is one of “our honours” and that such punishments will not be limited to now and will be continued in the future. He has said that he should be honoured and esteemed for his role in the 1988 Iranian mass executions of political prisoners.
In 2017, Raisi reported “I see the activation of a resistance economy as the only way to end poverty and deprivation in the country.” He supports development of the agricultural sector over commercial retail, which “will eventually benefit foreign brands.”
In 2017, he promised to triple the monthly state benefits, currently 450,000 rials per citizen, in order to tackle corruption and create six million jobs. He said (about Sanctions against Iran): “Sanctions should be seen as an opportunity for economic empowerment, and we should strengthen ourselves instead of falling short.”
Raisi said in regards to the issue of lifting sanctions: “every government that takes office (to be elected), should lift the oppressive sanctions, and it must be pursued seriously; and the neutralization of sanctions should be on the agenda and we should not condition the economy; Neither the corona nor the flood nor the sanctions should have an impact.”
In 2021, he said: Our country has many assets and the most important asset is efficient and dense manpower; With efficient manpower, we can move the country forward.
According to Ebrahim Raisi: No one has the right to violate the freedom and rights of girls and women; he said: “It is incomplete to talk about culture and economy without the role of women”; “Women’s rights are God-given, and the government should not only not lose this right, but it should also create the conditions for it to flourish.” He mentioned: in many spaces, women’s role-playing is empty and women’s talent, creativity, initiative and innovation can be used a lot.
Raisi stated: “The intellectual of the society understands before the others and watches the threats of the society and soon warns the society with his poetry and art and saves the society from falling asleep like a muezzin“; According to him, supporting the people of culture and art should not be verbal and should lead to action. He said: Teachers are the true intellectuals of society and must observe and warn of harm; Teachers are the identifiers and civilizers of society.
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Raisi is married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, daughter of Mashhad Friday Prayers Imam, Ahmad Alamolhoda. She is an associate professor at Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University and also president of the university’s Institute of Fundamental Studies of Science and Technology. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. One of their daughters studied at Sharif university and the other one at Tehran university.
Among Raisi’s works are as follows: The books of “Lectures on the rules of jurisprudence” including 3 volumes (in judicial, economic and religious sections); Erse-Bi-Wares (Inheritance without heirs); Conflict of principle and appearance in jurisprudence and law.