Saeed Hajjarian

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Saeed Hajjarian
Saeed Hajjarian 1394.jpg
Hajjarian in 2015
Vice Chairman of City Council of Tehran
In office
29 April 1999 – 13 February 2002
ChairmanAbdullah Nouri
Abbas Duzduzani
Rahmatollah Khosravi
Mohammad Atrianfar
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byEbrahim Asgharzadeh
Member of City Council of Tehran
In office
29 April 1999 – 15 January 2003
Majority386,069 (27.5%)[1]
Advisor to the President of Iran
In office
PresidentMohammad Khatami
Personal details
Born1954 (age 64–65)
Javadiyeh, Tehran, Iran
Political partyIslamic Iran Participation Front
Spouse(s)Jila Marsoosi[2]
Military service
Branch/serviceGendarmerie (1977–1979)
Committee (1979–1980)
Navy (1980)
Prime Ministry Intelligence Office (1980–1984)
Ministry of Intelligence (1984–1989)
Years of service1977–1989
UnitEngineering (Gendarmerie)
Nazi Abad (Committee)
Intelligence (Navy)
Academic background and work
EducationPolitical Science (Ph.D.)
Alma materUniversity of Tehran
ThesisMessianism in Russian Revolution and Iranian Islamic Revolution (Case Study) (2003)
Doctoral advisorHossein Bashiriyeh
InstitutionsCenter for Strategic Research

Saeed Hajjarian (Persian: سعید حجاریان‎, born 1954) is an Iranian reformist political strategist,[3] journalist,[4] pro-democracy activist and former intelligence officer. He was a member of Tehran's city council, and advisor to president Mohammad Khatami. On 12 March 2000, he was shot in the face by an assailant and severely disabled, an act many Iranians believe was in retaliation for his help in uncovering the chain murders of Iran and his significant help to the Iranian reform movement in general, according to the BBC.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Hajjarian was born in Javadiyeh neighborhood of Tehran, Iran in 1954 to parents from Kashan. He studied mechanical engineering at Tehran University. In 1977 Hajjarian was enrolled for military service in Gendarmerie. A young Iranian revolutionary during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, he entered the Islamic Revolution Committees before becoming an Intelligence officer in Navy. Hajjarian contneud his education and obtained a Ph.D. in political science from Tehran University. His thesis advisor was Hossein Bashiriyeh.[6] He was one of the students who took over the US embassy in Tehran in 1979.[5]


After the revolution, Hajjarian was involved in the formation of the intelligence apparatus of the newly founded Islamic Republic.[7] Through the 1980s, he worked in the ministry of intelligence, where his positions included vice minister for political affairs. In the late 1980s, he left the ministry, and established Center for Strategic Research under the presidency. That was where he played an important role in creating a new discourse based on democracy and rule of law for his generation of revolutionaries.

When Mohammad Khatami was elected President in 1997, he appointed Hajjarian his political advisor. In 1999, he was elected to the city council of Tehran in the first city elections after the 1979 revolution. Hajjarian was also the editor of Sobh-e Emrooz newspaper, which was a strong advocate of Khatami's reforms. He was believed to be the source of information for many articles written by the investigative journalists, Akbar Ganji and Emadeddin Baghi. These included stories about the "Chain murders" of dissident intellectuals by members of Iran's intelligence ministry.[citation needed]

Hajjarian was one of the personal key factors of president Khatami. He was a member of the reformist elite and has leadership support role in reform movement. He joined the ministry of intelligence and national security (MINS) in 1984 and he leaves it in 1989. He worked also in the center of strategic studies. Working in such a place, he was able to invite some of the officials of MINS to join the reform movement. All of them try to develop the reform movement. Peoples like Akbar ganji, Mohsen Armin, Abbas abdi, Hamid Reza Jalaeipour, Muhammad Mousavi Khouiniha, Ebrahim Asghar zadeh and Mohsen Sazgaran are among those personals.[8]

Assassination attempt[edit]

Hajjarian assassination attempt
Part of Chain murders of Iran (?)
LocationFront door of Islamic City Council of Tehran, Behesht Street, Tehran
DateMarch 12, 2000 (2000-03-12)
08:30 am (UTC+03:30)
TargetSaeed Hajjarian
Attack type
Targeted drive-by shooting
WeaponsMakarov pistol
Non-fatal injuries
  • Saeed Asgar (Shooter)
  • Mohsen Morteza Majidi (Biker)
  • Others:
  • Mohammad Ali Moghaddami, Mehdi Rowghani, Mousa Jan Nesari, Ali Pourchaluei, Saeed Golounani, Safar Maghsoudi
No. of participants
DefenderDr. Mohammad-Reza Zafarghandi (Head of medical team at Sina Hospital)

In March, 2000 he was shot in the face by a gunman on the doorstep of Tehran's city council.[9] The would-be assassin fled on a motorcycle with an accomplice. The bullet entered through his left cheek and lodged in his neck, and put Hajjarian into a coma. During this time, groups of young Iranians kept vigil outside Sina hospital, where he was being treated. Hajjarian was badly paralyzed for life.[citation needed]

His assailant, Saeed Asgar, a young man who was reported to be a member of the Basij militia, was later arrested and sentenced to spend 15 years in jail.[10][11] But he was released after spending only a short term in prison. Asgar was accompanied by Mohsen Morteza Majidi on a motorbike. Others, who were involved, include Mohammad Ali Moghaddami, Mehdi Rowghani, Mousa Jan Nesari, Ali Pourchaluei (possibly the one who shot Hajjarian), Saeed Golounani and Safar Maghsoudi.[12]

Possible cause[edit]

His attempted assassination is thought to be associated with the exposure of the "Chain murders" in his Sobh Emrouz daily newspaper, and the "key role" he is believed to have played "in bringing about ... damaging disclosures," both as the editor of the exposing newspaper and one of the few reformists likely to be a source of information about activity in the intelligence ministry. Consequently, "some believe that remnants" of the chain murder "intelligence killer group may have been" behind his attempted assassination.[5][13]


Hajjarian slowly recovered somewhat from the shooting. By 2005, Hajjarian was still unable to speak with a clear voice and still using the wheelchair, although could walk with help.[14] As of 2009 he still spoke with difficulty and was "dependent on the constant care of doctors and family."[13]

Research works and viewpoints[edit]

Hajjarian has used the term “dual sovereignty” as an analytic tool to describe the balance of power in the Islamic Republic's government system, in which there is a supposed split between the Supreme Leader and popularly elected officials, e.g. the President. The idea has been publicly denounced by Ali Khamenei in 2004, being called "damaging and a deadly poison" repeated by "irrational people".[15]

He believes that a frontal assault on the fortresses of power is impractical. Hajjarian argued that domination of politics by clerics was wrong, but could be gradually eroded by "mobilizing the masses and using them as bargaining chips with Iran's rulers."[16] His strategy for the reform movement was described as extending the reformists "reach by triangulating between the mass movement they represented and the autocratic state with which they shared power. He coined the phrase that would define the reformists’ strategy: “Pressure from below, negotiation at the top.”[13] The strategy remarks that by developing civil society and winning the battle of public opinion, the reform movement can gain enough strength to not only resist the hardliners, but also push for deep changes within the system via bargains with top officials unwilling to reform.[2]

Hajjarian formulated the proposed gradual move to a favorable democratic system as “fortress to fortress triumph”, meaning that reformers should concentrate on weakening and capturing key institutions, i.e. fortresses of power, one by one.[17]

Hajjarian argued that there is a way of combating the predominance of Valiyat al-faqih (rule of the Islamic jurist) by underlining the de facto secularization of religion by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Khomeini. He allegedly showed the supremacy of politics as such over any religious norm when he said that the interests of the Islamic Republic are paramount in Islam and that zakat, salat, hajj, and everything else in Islam, are subordinant. This kind of decision, he states, means that politics are more important than religion and that this acknowledges the secularization of religion. In this context, he argues, it is possible to reassess velayat faqih and to reject its supremacy within the political field in Iran.[18]

After reformists lost their "fortresses", Hajjarian said in 2004 that the reforms program have been failed and now there are multiple choices for the Iranian people. One option is giving up and accepting the current situation. Another choice is apathy, followed by adopting defeatism—waiting for a possible foreign military action against Iran and regime change— or to let the developing lumpenproletariat in the society grow until they ignite a revolution in Iran. Hajjarian prefers what he calls the best alternative, which is to assume “reforms is dead, long live the reforms” and continue the reforms path patiently.[19]

2009 elections[edit]

On 16 June 2009, four days after the disputed presidential election, it was reported that Hajjarian had been arrested.[20] It was reported that he died in Evin prison under torture on 7 July.[21] However, it was later added that he was still alive but had suffered a nervous breakdown on 8 July and was in critical condition in a military hospital in Tehran.[22] Later, there were reports that he was still in Evin Prison, possibly in a clinic there,[23] and that according to his wife, physician Vajiheh Marsoussi, his medical condition was "deteriorating severely" while in prison.[24] Hajjarian was accused of having links with the British intelligence service on 25 August 2009.[25]

2015 speech[edit]

In May 2015, Hajjarian was allowed to give a short speech at University of Tehran. According to the reformist Shargh Daily, enthusiasm for the speech was so great that seats were filled up hours before the event.[26] In a note he gave to a student to read, Hajjarian stated that the 1997 presidential election were the reformists prevailed were the first since the 1979 Iranian revolution in which there was “a competition”, and that it “institutionalized” competition in the presidential elections, and introduced new debate on the issues of religion, economics and other foreign and domestic policies. But he believed those elections were an “exception” and doubtful of their repetition, "though he did not explain why", according to al-Monitor.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Omid Karimi (2013-06-09), "در ۳ دوره گذشته شورای شهر تهران هر نماینده چه تعداد و چند درصد رای آورد؟", Khabaronline (in Persian), retrieved 1 April 2016
  2. ^ a b Sahimi, Muhammad (8 July 2009), Reformist Strategist: Saeed Hajjarian, Tehran Bureau, retrieved 15 April 2016
  3. ^ "Guns and the bookworm". Economist. Mar 16, 2000. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Jailed Iranian reformist's life at risk: U.S. group". Reuters. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Analysis: Who wanted Hajjarian dead? BBC
  6. ^ "گفتگو با سعید حجاریان". Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  7. ^ Robert Tait (2009-07-21). "Iran's illogical cruelty". the Guardian.
  8. ^ Anoushiravan Enteshami & Mahjoob Zweiri (2007). Iran and the rise of Neoconsevatives,the politics of Tehran's silent Revolution. I.B.Tauris. p. 9.
  9. ^ Blanche, Ed (1 March 2001). "'Rogue agent' convictions leave many questions unanswered". The Middle East. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  10. ^ Sachs, Susan. "2 Trials Focus Attention on Iranian Justice". The New York Times. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  11. ^ "Five Jailed Over Iran Shooting". The Independent. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  12. ^ "Agency publishes names of suspects involved in Hajjarian case". BBC Monitoring Middle East. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  13. ^ a b c The New Yorker, "Protest Vote," 29 June 2009, p.23 Retrieved 11 July 2009
  14. ^ Secor, Laura (2005-11-21). "New Yorker magazine, "Fugitives, Young Iranians confront the collapse of the reform movement", Laura Secor, 21 November 2005". Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  15. ^ Rose, Gideon, ed. (2014), Iran and the Bomb 2: A New Hope, Foreign Affairs, pp. 14–15
  16. ^ Milani, Abbas (15 July 2009), "The New Democrats: An Intellectual History of the Green Wave", The New Republic: 14–15
  17. ^ Jones, David Martin; Lane, Ann; Schulte, Paul (2010), Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks, Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 107
  18. ^ Khosrokhavar, F. (2004). "The New Intellectuals in Iran". Social Compass. 51 (2): 191–202. doi:10.1177/0037768604043006.
  19. ^ Rajaee, Farhang (2010), Islamism and Modernism: The Changing Discourse in Iran, University of Texas Press, pp. 196–197
  20. ^ "Leading Iranian reformist arrested, his office says". Reuters. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  21. ^ "شهادت سعید حجاریان زیر دست مرتضوی و شریعتمداری". 7 July 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009.
  22. ^ Muhammad Sahimi (8 July 2009). "Reformist Strategist: Saeed Hajjarian". Teheran Bureau. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  23. ^ Robert Tait (21 July 2009). "Iran's illogical cruelty: The imprisonment of the frail reformer Saeed Hajarian exposes the callousness of Iran's leaders – and their lack of logic". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  24. ^ "Reports: 50 'political figures' among Iranian detainees. 30 July 2009. CNN". Retrieved 2013-11-10.
  25. ^ "No Operation". Presstv. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  26. ^ a b Karami, Arash (May 27, 2015). "Reformist media welcomes rare appearance of Hajjarian". Al Monitor. Retrieved 20 September 2016.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
New title
Council founded
Vice Chairman of City Council of Tehran
Succeeded by
Ebrahim Asgharzadeh