Hooman Majd

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Hooman Majd
Born1957 (age 63–64)
CitizenshipAmerican, [Iran (dual citizenship, has Iranian Passport citation, The Daily Show 2014/02/25)][citation needed]
Alma materSt Paul's School, London, George Washington University
OccupationWriter, journalist
WebsiteHooman Majd

Hooman Majd (born 1957 in Tehran) is an Iranian-American journalist, author, and commentator who writes on Iranian affairs. He is based in New York City and regularly travels to Iran.[1]

Early life[edit]

Majd's maternal grandfather was the Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Assar (1885–1975),[2] who was born to an Iraqi mother and an Iranian father. The Ayatollah, along with other contemporary ulema, overcame traditional opposition to serve as a professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran.[3] His own father, whose origins were in the village of Ardakan, Iran, became representative of a "middle class" that was "pro-democratic and pro-modernization".[4]

Raised in a family involved in the diplomatic service, Majd lived from infancy abroad, mostly in the US and in England but attending American schools in varied places, such as Tunis and New Delhi. He boarded at St Paul's School in London, England until 1974 and attended George Washington University for electrical engineering in Washington, D.C. and graduated in 1977. He studied operations research at GWU for two more years but did not complete.[5] He stayed in the US after the 1979 revolution.


He has published three non-fiction books, in the U.S., the U.K. and which have been translated into a number of other languages :

  • The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran (New York: Doubleday 2008)
  • The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge (New York: Norton 2010).
  • The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran (New York: Tantor Audio 2013)

He has also published short fiction in collections and in The American Scholar and Guernica.

Majd has also served as an advisor and translator for President Mohammad Khatami and translator for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on their trips to the United States and the United Nations, and has written about those experiences.[1]


Roland Elliott Brown writes in the British newspaper The Observer that "Majd's mild reformist agenda requires him to fight on two fronts" and that he has "honed his polemical skills by defending the nascent Islamic Republic to Iranian emigres at Speakers' Corner in London."[6] adding that, in his opinion, Majd is "a sometimes sympathetic communicator of the regime's positions, and an enthusiast only for its most loyal oppositionists".[6] Reviewing Majd's book The Ayatollahs' Democracy, Brown observes that Majd regards the administration as "increasingly fascistic": "flawed, capricious, but also popular, and a bulwark of sovereignty".[6]

According to Newsweek, "Majd's Iran is a land where ayatollahs criticize each other and young people flout rules about wearing chadors. It's a land where Majd—who makes no secret of his admiration for the reformist President Mohammad Khatami—could go on to serve as the official translator for Khatami's successor and archrival, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when the latter visited New York in September. But Majd is no Iran apologist: he ridicules Ahmadinejad's officials for their Holocaust deniers' conference in 2006. Majd's subtle central point is that "the lack of meaningful relations between Iran and the United States … has brought little advantage to either nation."

Following the 2009 election in Iran, which he "concedes [. . .] fielded only regime-vetted candidates and was stolen",[6] Majd continues to enjoy access to its politicians and officials, especially to former President Khatami.[citation needed] Admittedlly "emotionally invested in the politics of the country", a stated goal of Majd's is to shed light on the elusive "truth about Iran" that is fair for all of its people.[7]

Twitter controversies[edit]

In July 2012 a tweet from Majd's Twitter account was made about Iranian-born Nazanin Afshin-Jam, a human rights advocate and the wife of Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay. The tweet read: "Fucking a Canadian minister doesn’t make you Canadian, azizam. Come back to papa …" Majd has denied making it, and in a later public tweet directed at Afshin-Jam Majd said his account had been hacked: "@NazaninAJ A recent series of tweets were made in my name as a result of a hack. Not my words, and tweets have been removed." Before the tweet Afshin-Jam had been calling on the Canadian government and the Canadian Assembly of First Nations to cut diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran.[8] [9] Afshin-Jam described the matter as serious but added that "unless I can verify exactly who sent it, I can't really comment."[8]

In October 2013, Majd referred to Iranian-American Wall Street Journal (WSJ) assistant books editor Sohrab Ahmari as "WSJ's (Iranian) 'House Negro'" in a post on Twitter. Majd acknowledged the statement was insult, but said he stood by it.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Hooman Majd". huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved July 23, 2012. He often writes on Iranian affairs, and travels regularly to Iran. He has also served as an advisor and translator for two Iranian presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on their trips to the United States and the United Nations, and has written about those experiences. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Brown, Roland Elliott (January 22, 2012). "The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge by Hooman Majd – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  3. ^ Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Iranian Intellectuals and the West. The tormented triumph of nationalism (University of Syracuse 1996) at 95, 188–189.
  4. ^ Majd, The Ayatollahs' Democracy (2010): the Ayatollah at page 89, his own father at pages 90–91. The Ayatollah's son Nassir Assar (born 1926), Majd's uncle, incurred controversy and later personal danger due to his appointment under the Shah as "deputy prime minister in charge of Oghaf" (an Iranian waqf [religious endowment]). Ibid. at 89–90. The expatriate singer and author Shusha Guppy (1935–2008), a daughter of the same Ayatollah, was his aunt.
  5. ^ "Spotlight on Hooman Majd - Old Pauline Club". opclub.stpaulsschool.org.uk. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Roland Elliott Brown, "The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge by Hooman Majd – review", The Observer, January 21, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2012.
  7. ^ Majd, The Ayatollahs' Democracy (2010): author's goals, at 44–46; Khatami, at 6, 14, 24–25, 34, etc.
  8. ^ a b Edwards, Steven (July 20, 2012). "Iranian-American author claims hackers behind offensive tweet about Nazanin Afshin-Jam". National Post. Toronto. Postmedia News. Retrieved July 23, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Canada minister's wife targeted over Iran activism". Ottawa. AFP. July 18, 2012. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Pro-Iranian Regime Journalist Defends Controversial Tweet". Washington Free Beacon. October 21, 2013.

External links[edit]