Ebrahim Raisi: Iran's Next President, "Ultra-conservative"

Ebrahim Raisi: Iran's Next President, "Ultra-conservative"

Dressed in a black turban and cleric's coat, Iranian ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi casts himself as an austere and pious figure and an corruption-fighting champion of the poor.

On Saturday the 60-year-old was named the winner of the Islamic republic's presidential election, set to require over from moderate Hassan Rouhani in August.

Critics charge the election was skewed in his favour as strong rivals were disqualified, but to his loyal supporters he's Iran's best hope for standing up to the West and bringing relief from a deep depression .

Raisi isn't renowned for nice charisma but, as head of the judiciary, has driven a well-liked campaign to prosecute corrupt officials.

In the election campaign he vowed to stay up the fight on graft, construct four million new homes for low-income families, and build "a government of the people for a robust Iran".

Many Iranian media outlets see him as a possible successor to supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who turns 82 next month.

Raisi, whose black turban signifies direct descent from Islam's Prophet Mohammed, holds the title of "hojatoleslam" -- literally "proof of Islam" -- one rank below that of ayatollah within the Shiite clerical hierarchy.

Like other ultraconservatives, he harshly criticised Rouhani's camp after the 2015 nuclear deal was torpedoed by then US president Donald Trump, who reimposed punishing sanctions.

But, like Iranian political figures across the spectrum, Raisi supports efforts to revive the deal to bring relief from Iran's painful depression .

Born in 1960 within the Celestial City of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, Raisi rose to high office as a young man.

Aged just 20, within the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed monarchy, Raisi was named prosecutor-general of Karaj, which neighbours Tehran.

For the exiled opposition and rights groups, his name is indelibly related to the mass executions of Marxists and other leftists in 1988, when he was deputy prosecutor of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Asked in 2018 and again last year about the executions, Raisi denied playing a task , whilst he lauded an order he said was handed down by the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to proceed with the purge.

In 2019, the US placed Raisi et al. on a sanctions list citing the executions and other alleged rights abuses -- charges Tehran dismissed as symbolic.

Raisi has decades of judicial experience, serving as Tehran's prosecutor-general from 1989 to 1994, deputy chief of the Judicial Authority for a decade from 2004, then national prosecutor-general in 2014.

He studied theology and Islamic jurisprudence under Khamenei and, consistent with his official biography, has been teaching at a Shiite seminary in Mashhad since 2018.

In 2016, Khamenei put Raisi responsible of a charitable foundation that manages the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad and controls an outsized industrial and property asset portfolio.

Three years later, Khamenei appointed him head of the Judicial Authority. Raisi is additionally a member of the assembly of experts who select the supreme leader.

He is married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, an academic sciences lecturer at Tehran's Shahid-Beheshti University. they need two daughters.

Raisi is that the son-in-law of Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday prayer imam and supreme leader's representative for Mashhad.

His election win comes after he lost to Rouhani in 2017. This time, five ultra-conservatives and two reformists were approved to run after many other prominent figures were disqualified.

Raisi gathered support from traditional conservatives, who are on the brink of the Shiite clergy and therefore the influential merchant class, also as ultraconservatives who are united during a their anti-Western stance.

He also sought to increase a hand beyond his traditional base, by pledging to defend "freedom of expression" and "the fundamental rights of all Iranian citizens".

Raisi has also vowed to eradicate "corruption hotbeds" -- a topic he already pursued in his judicial role, through a spate of highly publicised corruption trials of senior state officials.

Even judges haven't been spared by his much trumpeted anti-graft drive; several are sentenced over the past year.

Raisi has also taken a tough line against protest groups. When the Green Movement in 2009 rallied against populist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning a disputed second term, he was uncompromising.

"To those that speak of 'Islamic compassion and forgiveness', we respond: we'll still confront the rioters until the top and that we will uproot this sedition," he said.


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