The Guardian- Former president of Iran who played a key role in the Islamic revolution of 1979
From the period of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s militant opposition to the Shah’s regime in Iran in the 1970s, until his death, at the age of 82, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was one of Iran’s major political players. Considered a pragmatic liberal, he had at times been ruthless. His charm and immense wealth gave him a cachet that few other Iranians enjoyed. He grew close to Khomeini during the latter’s exile in the 60s and became rich as a property speculator in the 70s. He suffered imprisonment under the Shah on and off throughout the 60s and 70s, and, after the Islamic revolution in 1979, he held various positions of high state, including, from 1989 until 1997, that of president.
Born in the village of Bahraman, near Rafsanjan, into a wealthy family of pistachio farmers, Rafsanjani attended a traditional Qur’anic school and in 1948 went to a seminary in the holy city of Qom, where he lived near Khomeini. By 1956, he had completed his basic theological studies. In 1963, the Shah ordered seminarians, technically exempt, to serve in the army. Rafsanjani fled and was arrested.
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