PARIS, Oct. 9 – Iran’s first president after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr, died on Saturday before being deported to France.
His wife and children said on the official website of Bani-Sadr that he had died at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris due to a long illness.
Bani-Sadr became Iran’s first president in February 1980 with the help of an Islamic cleric. But after a power struggle with radical clergy he fled to France the following year, where he spent the rest of his life.
When announcing the death, his family said on his website, “Bani-Sadr defended freedom against new tyranny and oppression in the name of religion.”
The family wants him to be buried in Versailles, a Paris suburb where he lived when he was deported, his longtime aide Jamaldeen Baknejath told Reuters by phone.
In an interview with Reuters in 2019, he said that Ayatollah Ruhollah had betrayed the principles of the Khomeini Revolution since the former president came to power in 1979, which caused a “very bitter” taste to some who returned with Khomeini. Tehran won.
In Paris 40 years ago, he firmly believed that the Islamic revolution of the religious leader would pave the way for democracy and human rights after the Shah’s rule.
“We were convinced that a religious leader had dedicated himself, and all of these principles would happen for the first time in our history,” he said in an interview.
Bani-Sadr took office in February 1980, after winning more than 75% of the vote in the previous month.
But under the constitution of the new Islamic Republic, Khomeini used real power – and this continued after Khomeini died in 1989 under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Within months of being elected, Bani-Sadr was locked in a power struggle with radical clerical factions, which he sought to control by assigning important jobs to liberal-minded laymen.
He used his election victory and fame — thanks to his close ties to Khomeini — to well-organized a group led by hardline clerics to discredit his radical rivals in the Islamic Republican Party (IRP).
In his efforts to form a non-clerical cabinet, Bani-Sadr was encouraged by Khomeini’s unfulfilled promise that clergy should not hold high office but instead devote their time to providing guidance and advice to the government.
While enjoying the support of moderate clergy, he carried out a nationwide campaign against the IRP, traveling across the country and delivering speeches in which he accused its leaders of trying to recapture the dark days of the past by lying, cunning, imprisonment and torture.
The power struggle reached a critical juncture in March 1981, when Bani-Sadr ordered security forces to arrest religious extremists who tried to disrupt his speech at the University of Tehran.
He called for his dismissal and trial, as most of the protesters were supporters of the opposition Mujahideen.
Khomeini, who sought to withdraw from the conflict, then entered into increasingly bitter fighting, banned political talks and set up a commission to resolve the controversy.
The commission accused Bani-Sadr of violating the constitution and Khomeini’s orders.
With Khomeini’s approval, parliament fired Bani-Sadr in June 1981, forcing him to go underground with the help of the Mujahideen.
A month later, he flew to Paris, where he formed a loose alliance with the group to overthrow Khomeini.
The alliance collapsed in May 1984 in a clash between then-Mujahideen leader Masood Rajavi and Bani-Sadr.
He said in a 2019 interview that despite the disappointment and prolonged deportation, Bani-Sadr did not regret being a part of the revolution.
Bani-Satru is survived by his wife, Asra Hossaini, daughters Firuse and Zahra, and son Ali.
Report by Michela Cabrera and Dubai Newsroom Writing by Gus Trombis Editing by Francis Kerry
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