Mehdi Bazargan

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Mehdi Bazargan
Persian: مهدی بازرگان
Azerbaijani: Mehdi Bazərgan
BazarganMehdi.jpg
75th Prime Minister of Iran
1st Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic
In office
4 February 1979 – 6 November 1979
Deputy Abbas Amir-Entezam
Preceded by Shapour Bakhtiar
Succeeded by Mohammad-Ali Rajai
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Acting
In office
1 April 1979 – 12 April 1979
Prime Minister Himself
Preceded by Karim Sanjabi
Succeeded by Ebrahim Yazdi
Member of Parliament of Iran
In office
4 May 1980 – 6 May 1984
Constituency Tehran
Personal details
Born (1908-09-01)1 September 1908
Tehran, Persia
Died 20 January 1995(1995-01-20) (aged 86)
Zurich, Switzerland
Nationality Iranian
Political party Freedom Movement
Spouse(s) Malak Tabatabai (1939–1995, his death)
Children Zahra
Abdolali
Abolfazl
Fereshteh
Mohammad Navid
Alma mater École Centrale Paris
Religion Shia Islam
Signature
Website Official website

Mehdi Bazargan (Persian: مهدی بازرگان‎; Azerbaijani: Mehdi Bazərgan; 1 September 1908 – 20 January 1995, born in Tehran, Persia(now Iran)) was a prominent Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He was the head of the first engineering department of University of Tehran. A well-respected religious intellectual, known for his honesty[1] and expertise in the Islamic and secular sciences, he is credited with being one of the founders of the contemporary intellectual movement in Iran.

Early life and education[edit]

A young Bazargan

Bazargan was born into an Azeri family[2][3] in Tehran on 1 September 1908.[4][5] His father, Hajj Abbasquoli Tabrizi (died 1954) was a self-made merchant and a religious activist in Bazaar guilds.[4]

Bazargan was sent by the government to France to receive university education as a scholar of the Reza Shah scholarship fund.[6] He studied thermodynamics and engineering at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris.[7][8][9]

Career[edit]

After his graduation, Bazargan voluntarily joined the French army and fought against Nazi Germany.[10] Bazargan then came back from France and became the head of the first engineering department at Tehran University in the late 1940s. In 1951, with the leadership of Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian parliament nationalized the Iranian oil industry (National Iranian Oil Company) and removed it from British control. Bazargan served as the first Iranian head of the National Iranian Oil Company under the administration of Prime Minister Mossadegh. He was also a deputy minister in the cabinet.[11]

Bazargan co-founded the Liberation Movement of Iran in 1961,[11] a party similar in its program to Mossadegh's National Front. Although he accepted the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as the legitimate head of state, he was jailed several times on political grounds.

Iranian Revolution[edit]

On 4 February 1979, Bazargan was appointed prime minister of Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini.[12][13] He was seen as one of the democratic and liberal figureheads of the revolution who came into conflict with the more radical religious leaders – including Khomeini himself – as the revolution progressed. Although pious, Bazargan initially disputed the name Islamic Republic, wanting an Islamic Democratic Republic.[14] He had also been a supporter of the original (non-theocratic) revolutionary draft constitution, and opposed the Assembly of Experts for Constitution and the constitution they wrote that was eventually adopted as Iran's constitution. In March 1979, he submitted his resignation due to his government's lack of power to Ayatollah Khomeini.[15] However, Khomeini did not accept his resignation.[15] In April 1979, he and the members of cabinet escaped an assassination attempt.[16]

Bazargan resigned along with his cabinet on 4 November 1979 following the US Embassy takeover and hostage-taking.[17][18] His resignation was considered a protest against the hostage-taking and a recognition of his government's inability to free the hostages, but it was also clear that his hopes for liberal democracy and an accommodation with the West would not prevail.

Bazargan sworn in as prime minister behind Ruhollah Khomeini in the absence of Parliament

Bazargan continued in Iranian politics as a member of the first Parliament (Majles) of the newly formed Islamic Republic. He openly opposed Iran's cultural revolution and continued to advocate civil rule and democracy. In November 1982, he expressed his frustration with the direction the Islamic Revolution had taken in an open letter to the then speaker of parliament Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The government has created an atmosphere of terror, fear, revenge and national disintegration. ... What has the ruling elite done in nearly four years, besides bringing death and destruction, packing the prisons and the cemeteries in every city, creating long queues, shortages, high prices, unemployment, poverty, homeless people, repetitious slogans and a dark future?[19]

Bazargan with Yasser Arafat

His term as a member of parliament lasted until 1984.[3] During his term, he served as a lawmaker of the Iran Freedom Movement, which he had founded in 1961 and abolished in 1990.[3] In 1985, the Council of Guardians denied Bazargan's petition to run for president.

Views[edit]

Bazargan is considered to be a respected figure within the ranks of modern Muslim thinkers, well known as a representative of liberal-democratic Islamic thought[20] and a thinker who emphasized the necessity of constitutional and democratic policies.[21] In the immediate aftermath of the revolution Bazargan led a faction that opposed the Revolutionary Council dominated by the Islamic Republican Party and personalities such as Ayatollah Mohammad Hossein Beheshti.[22] He opposed the continuation of the Iran-Iraq war and the involvement of clerics in all aspects of politics, economy and society. Consequently, he faced harassment from militants and young revolutionaries within Iran.[23]

Attacks[edit]

During the Pahlavi era, Bazargan's house in Tehran was bombed on 8 April 1978.[24] The underground committee for revenge, a state-financed organization, proclaimed the responsibility of the bombing.[24]

Laws of social evolution[edit]

Bazargan is noted for having done some of the first work in human thermodynamics, as found in his 1946 chapter “A Physiological Analysis of Human Thermodynamics” and his 1956 book Love and Worship: Human Thermodynamics, the latter of which being written while in prison, in which he attempted to show that religion and worship are a byproduct of evolution, as explained in English naturalist Charles Darwin's 1859 Origin of Species, and that the true laws of society are based on the laws of thermodynamics.

Death[edit]

Bazargan died of a heart attack on 21 January 1995 in Switzerland.[3] He died at a hospital in Zurich after collapsing at the airport.[3] He was travelling to the United States for heart surgery.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Bazargan married Malak Tabatabai in 1939.[4] They had five children, two sons and three daughters.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World: Yankee, We've Come to Do You In". TIME. 26 February 1979. 
  2. ^ The Rising Tide of Cultural Pluralism: The Nation-State at Bay?, Crawford Young, p.127, 1993
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Mehdi Bazargan, Former Iran Premier, Dies". The New York Times. 21 January 1995. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d Barzin, Saeed (21 January 1995). "Mehdi Bazargan". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Biography: Mehdi Bazargan BBC Persian 2009
  6. ^ Vakili Zad, Cyrus (Spring 1990). "Organization, Leadership and Revolution: Religiously-Oriented Opposition in the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979". Conflict Quarterly: 5–25. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Sahimi, Muhammad (6 August 2009). "If I Confess...". Tehran Bureau via PBS. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  8. ^ Boroujerdi, Mehrzad (1996). Iranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism. Syracuse University Press. p. 190. ISBN 9780815604334. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mehdi Bazargan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Historic Personalities of Iran: Mehdi Bazargan". Iran Chamber Society. 
  11. ^ a b "Iran's Political Elite". United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Martin, Richard C., ed. (2003). Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World 1. Macmillan Reference USA. p. 106. ISBN 9780028656045. 
  13. ^ Nikou, Semira N. "Timeline of Iran's Political Events". United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand (2008). History of Modern Iran. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521821391. 
  15. ^ a b "Bazargan talked out of resigning". The Palm Beach Post (Tehran). 10 March 1979. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "Bazargan escapes assassination try". The Rock Hill Herald (Tehran). AP. 23 April 1979. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  17. ^ Godsel, Geoffrey (9 November 1979). "Bazargan resignation increases Iran risks to American hostages". The Deseret News. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  18. ^ Rakel, Eva Patricia (2008). The Iranian Political elite, state and society relations, and foreign relations since the Islamic revolution. University of Amsterdam. 
  19. ^ "Khomenin's grip appears at its tightest". The New York Times. 21 November 1982. 
  20. ^ Mahdavi, Mojtaba (2004). "Islamic Forces of the Iranian Revolution: A Critique of Cultural Essentialism". Iran Analysis Quarterly 2 (2). 
  21. ^ Barzin, Saeed (1994). "Constitutionalism and Democracy in the Religious Ideology of Mehdi Bazargan". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 21 (1): 85. doi:10.1080/13530199408705593. 
  22. ^ Behrooz, Maziar (October 1994). "Factionalism in Iran under Khomeini". Middle Eastern Studies 27 (4): 597–614. doi:10.1080/00263209108700879. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Leicht, Justus (20 November 2001). "Mass trial of opposition group in Iran". World Socialist Website. 
  24. ^ a b Nikazmerad, Nicholas M. (1980). "A Chronological Survey of the Iranian Revolution". Iranian Studies 13 (1/4): 327–368. doi:10.1080/00210868008701575. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Shapour Bakhtiar
Prime Minister of Iran
1979
Succeeded by
Mohammad Ali Rajai
Preceded by
Karim Sanjabi
Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran
1979
Succeeded by
Ebrahim Yazdi
Party political offices
Preceded by
None
Leader of Freedom Movement of Iran
1961–1995
Succeeded by
Ebrahim Yazdi