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Mohammad Ali Keshavarz Sadr

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Mohammad Ali Keshavarz Sadr
Governor of Tehran
In office
Prime MinisterMohammad Mosaddegh
Governor of Gilan
In office
Preceded byArsalan Khalatbari
Succeeded byAli Akbar Saif Afshar
Governor of Isfahan
In office
1952 – 19 November 1953
Preceded byAbraham Zand
Succeeded byHassan Seraj Hejazi
Head of NF Student Affairs
In office
Personal details
BornMahallat, Iran
Political partyNational Front of Iran

Seyyed Mohammad Ali Keshavarz Sadr (Mahallat, 1902 – 17 October 1974) was a lawyer, judge, author and leading figure in the National Front of Iran. A close friend and associate of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, often acting as his official deputy, he nationalised the Iranian fishing industry and played a major role in the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry.[1] He served as governor of Isfahan, Gilan and Tehran. He entered parliament as representative of Khorramabad.[2] After resisting the 1953 Iranian coup d'état which toppled the democratically elected government of Mossadegh, Keshavarz Sadr was imprisoned and tortured. After his release he became spokesperson of the Second National Front and wrote a range of books.[3]

Early life[edit]

Keshavarz Sadr was born into a landowning, aristocratic family. His father Seyyed Hossein Khan (Mirza Kouchek Khan) ‘Bahador ol-Molk’ was a landowner from Khomeyn, who owned several villages and estates around Mahallat and who served as a military commander in the constitutionalist army. His father was a stepbrother of Prime Minister Mohsen Sadr (Sadr ol-Ashraf II). His mother Mariam Keshavarz was his father's cousin. The couple also had another son named Ali Mohammad Keshavarz Sadr. From the marriage of his father with Haj Malek(eh) Khanoum Khajeh Nassiri (a cousin of Mohsen Sadr), Keshavarz Sadr had two half-sisters: Eghlim Sadat and Shazdeh Aqa Keshavarz (Sadr).

Keshavarz Sadr earned a degree from the Graduate School of Law in Tehran and proceeded to work as a lawyer at the Justice Department. He was appointed as the Director General Inspector of the Ministry of Justice and would rise to become the Head of the Judiciary in 1946.[4]

First National Front[edit]

Mohammad Ali Keshavarz Sadr with USSR envoy

He was a founding member of the National Front of Iran. He was first elected into the 15th and 16th Iranian Majlis as representative of Khorramabad and subsequently served as governor of Gilan, where his main concern was the implementation of the nationalisation of fisheries. At the end of January 1953, the Soviet request for an extension of their expired concession was turned down. In a meeting between Keshavarz Sadr and a USSR envoy on a ship in the Caspian Sea, the Iranian fishing industries were officially nationalised.

He became the governor of Isfahan (a key province for Mossadegh), one of his recent predecessors being Mohammad Sa'ed. Keshavarz Sadr was one of ‘the eleven men’ who proposed the bill of oil nationalisation to the Iranian Majlis. He resisted the coup d'état in August 1953 until his residency collapsed following a military attack. He was subject to solitary confinement and torture while under house arrest for 8 months.

Second National Front[edit]

Keshavarz Sadr before his speech at a National Front gathering in the early 1960s

Mossadegh, whilst under house arrest, chose Keshavarz Sadr as his personal lawyer, which made him one of few legally allowed to visit the former Prime Minister.[5] In 1960 Keshavarz Sadr, with the assistance of other prominent nationalists, formed the Second National Front, of which he would be main spokesman until 1963. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi could not but recognise the movement due to pressure from the international community.

Members of the Central Council of the Second National Front. Keshavarz Sadr, fourth from left (standing). Behind him Saied Fatemi, nephew of Hossein Fatemi
Keshavarz Sadr with former Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in Ahmadabad (circa 1965-1966)

On January 30, 1961, the headquarters of the National Front was closed down by the police. The National Front leadership decided to attract attention with a sit-in in the Senate building. The delegation included, amongst others, Keshavarz Sadr himself, Mehdi Bazargan and Kazem Hassibi.[6] Keshavarz Sadr, who also dealt with NF student affairs, would be routinely arrested and interrogated by SAVAK, the state secret police, until his death.[7]

He died in 1974 following a heart attack. The Pahlavi regime prevented his funeral from taking place, presumably to avert the large gathering of National Front supporters.[citation needed]

Literary Activities[edit]

Keshavarz Sadr published a series of well-received articles dealing with constitutional law and Iranian legal procedures. He also researched the ancient literature and history of Iran. His most important works are his literary commentaries. He wrote a book that exclusively deals with female poets (Az Räbe'eh ta Parvin).[8]

Private life[edit]

His brother Ali Mohammad Keshavarz Sadr became an architect and married Badri Sadat Pasandideh, daughter of Ayatollah Morteza Pasandideh, the older brother of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

His sister Khanoum Eghlim Sadat Keshavarz (Sadr) (1922–2018) married post- and telegraph director, judge, poet, diarist and historian Amir Houshang Khan Khosrovani, whose poetic soirées were attended by Mohammad-Hossein Shahriar and others.[9]

His son Dr. Amir Houshang Keshavarz Sadr was a scholar of Iranian history and society.


Mossadegh's grandson held particular praise for Mohammad Ali Keshavarz Sadr and Tehran Mayor Nosratollah Amini, saying of the former that he was “on his own standing, a well-known and respected statesman (…) these men would use their integrity, their clout, their prestige and age to do positive things.”[10]


  1. ^ "Hushang Keshavarz Sadr Died". BBC. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Mohammad Ali Keshavarz Sadr". Rasekhoon. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  4. ^ Keshavarz, Bijan. کتاب زندگی نامه و خاطرات سیاسی سید محمد علی کشاورز صدر. Tehran.
  5. ^ پور, بکتاش خمسه (17 February 2013). "هوشنگ کشاورز صدر "دغدغه‌ای جز ایران نداشت"". رادیو فردا.
  6. ^ Chehabi, Houchang E. (1990). Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran under the Shah and Khomeini. pp. 151. ISBN 9780801424168.
  7. ^ "به مناسبت چهلمین سالروز درگذشت سید محمد علی کشاورز صدر، یار وفادار نهضت ملی ایران". Melliun. 14 July 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  8. ^ Ali-Asghar, Seyed-Gohrab (2015). Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Literature of the early twentieth century: from the constitutional period to Reza Shah. A History of Persian Literature. Vol. XI. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-912-6.
  9. ^ Qajar Studies VI: Entertainment in Qajar Persia. Barjesteh van Waalwijk van Doorn & Co's Uitgeversmaatschappij. 2006. p. 159.
  10. ^ Amini, Fariba (23 August 2010). "A Few Good Men". The Iranian.
Party political offices
Unknown Spokesperson of the National Front
Title next held by
Dariush Forouhar