Who is Hossein Moussavi?

June 15th, 2009 - 8:48 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

Mir Hossein Moussavi As thousands of angry Iranians take to the street in support of Mir Hossein Moussavi, the man many have labeled as a reformist, the irony is that in his time as prime minister he was considered just as hard-line as current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Of Iran’s population of 70 million, almost 60 percent are younger than 28 and therefore too young to have lived through the 1979 revolution that saw 52 Americans taken hostage and held for 444 days.

Like most Iranians in power, Moussavi does not believe in the existence of Israel and in a 1981 interview with The New York Times defended the 1979 hostage-taking as the beginning of the “second stage of our revolution.”

“It was after this that we rediscovered our true Islamic identity,” he said.

When author Salman Rushdie released his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses in 1988, which Iran said insulted Islam, the country’s supreme leader called for the death of Rushdie and Moussavi said the order would be carried out.

As president, Moussavi was part of a regime that regularly executed dissidents and earlier this year he told the Financial Times that he would not halt Iran’s uranium enrichment program if he were president, but said it would not be diverted to weapons use.

Since his stint as prime minister, 67-year old Moussavi has been absent from politics. For the past 10 years, his official job has been to head the state-owned Art Center. He is a painter.

But the long “20 years of silence,” as the Iranian media dubbed it, is working to Moussavi’s advantage.

As a reformist though, Moussavi is not so far to the left of President Ahmadinejad.

While Ahmadinejad denies the holocaust, Moussavi condemns the killing of Jews.

While Ahmadinejad has unleashed the morality police to ensure that women cover their hair in public, Moussavi has pledged his support for women’s rights.

Having successfully guided the Iranian economy through the real Gulf War (with Iraq) in the early 80s, he is seen as a glimmer of hope in a country where unemployment is topping 30 percent.

According to one analyst, young Iranian’s are hungry for anyone who represents change.

However, the irony remains that should Moussavi call out his supporters to protest the election ballot, he will be challenging the very system that he fought for – before most of his supporters were born.

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