Ebrahim Raisi: hard-line challenger in Iran

Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has served in the country's judiciary for decades. He is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, an all-cleric body that will rule on Khamenei's succession. (AP)
Updated 14 April 2017

Ebrahim Raisi: hard-line challenger in Iran

TEHRAN: Ebrahim Raisi is a hard-line judge who spent years in powerful backroom positions before emerging as a leading challenger for Iran’s presidential election next month.
Born into a religious family in the holy city of Mashhad on August 23, 1960, Raisi is a “seyed” whose geneology is said to lead back to the Prophet Muhammad.
Raisi’s father died when he was five, and he entered the seminary at an early age, excelling in his studies and moving to the seat of clerical learning in Qom in 1975.
After the 1979 revolution, he helped manage the border city of Masjed Suleiman, a hotbed of Marxists, before starting his judicial career in 1981 as a prosecutor in Karaj, and later Hamedan.
In 1985, he became a deputy prosecutor at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war when thousands of political prisoners were executed.
Raisi spent a decade as head of the Inspection Office from 1993, followed by 10 years as deputy head of the judiciary. In 2006, he was elected to the Assembly of Experts that has powers to choose the next supreme leader, and now sits on its board of directors.
In 2012, he became a prosecutor in the Special Court of Clerics, charged with disciplining the clergy, and spent two years as Iran’s nationwide prosecutor-general from 2013 to 2015.
In March 2016, he was appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to head Astan Qods Razavi, a charitable foundation overseeing the Imam Reza shrine, as well as a huge business conglomerate with interests in everything from IT and banking to construction and agriculture.
He is married to the daughter of Mashhad’s hard-line Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda.


Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

Updated 18 min 52 sec ago

Iranian wedding party fueled new COVID-19 surge, President Rouhani says

DUBAI: A wedding party contributed to a new surge in coronavirus infections in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday but insisted the country had no option but to keep its economy open despite warnings of a second wave of the epidemic.
Iran, which has been gradually relaxing its lockdown since mid-April, has reported a sharp rise of new daily infections in recent days. Thursday’s toll of 3,574 new cases was the highest since February, when the outbreak was first reported.
“At one location, we witnessed a peak in this epidemic, the source of which was a wedding that caused problems for the people, health workers and losses to the economy and the country’s health system,” Rouhani said on state TV. He did not say when or where the wedding took place.
New cases dipped to 2,886 on Friday, bringing Iran’s total cases to more than 167,000, with over 8,000 deaths.
Health officials have been warning of a second wave of the outbreak, but say a reason for the surge in new cases could be wider testing. One official said about 70% of the new cases in Tehran were among those who had traveled outside the capital in recent days.
Iran has been struggling to curb the spread of COVID-19 but authorities are concerned that measures to limit public and economic life to contain the virus could wreck an already economy already reeling under international sanctions.
“In these circumstances, we have no other choice — that is, there is no second option,” Rouhani added. “We have to work, our factories have to be active, our shops have to be open, and there has to be movement in the country as far as it is necessary.”
Iranian universities reopened on Saturday after being closed for more than three and a half months, state media reported. Nurseries will reopen in a week’s time, when Qur'an and languages classes will also resume, Rouhani said.