Anti-Hijab Masoud Pezeshkian Becomes Iran’s 9th President: Defeats Hardline Jalili; Election Held Again Due to Raisi’s Death

Masoud Pezeshkian has become Iran’s 9th president after defeating the hardline leader Saeed Jalili by over 3 million votes. In the second round of voting on July 5, nearly 30 million Iranians participated. According to Iran’s state media IRNA, Pezeshkian received 16.4 million votes while Jalili garnered 13.6 million.

Voting, originally scheduled to end at 6 PM, was extended until midnight. This election follows the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19, necessitating the new presidential election.

Khamenei appealed to people to vote after voting on Friday morning.

No Majority in the First Round

In Iran’s first round of voting on May 28, no candidate secured a majority. Pezeshkian led with 42.5% of the votes, followed by Jalili with 38.8%. According to Iran’s constitution, if no candidate obtains a majority in the first round, the top two candidates advance to a runoff.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after voting on Friday morning, expressed his satisfaction, noting higher voter turnout compared to previous rounds.

Masoud Pezeshkian Opposes Hijab

Tabriz MP Masoud Pezeshkian, known as one of the most liberal leaders, is viewed as a reformist by Iranian media IranWire. Close to former President Hassan Rouhani, Pezeshkian is a former surgeon and current health minister, frequently opposing the hijab in discussions, stating that moral policing is unacceptable. 

Elected as MP from Tabriz in 2006, he views the US as an enemy. In 2011, he registered for the presidential election but later withdrew. Pezeshkian advocates for implementing FATF policies and lifting Western economic sanctions on Iran.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) monitors money laundering and terror funding, preventing member countries from engaging in such activities. Iran has been blacklisted by FATF since 2019, blocking economic aid from IMF, ADB, and the World Bank.

Hijab laws have been in place in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Hijab Issue Also Covered

For the first time, this election is highlighting new issues like corruption, Western sanctions, press freedom, and migration prevention. The most striking topic is the hijab law. Following the 2022 anti-hijab movement and subsequent government crackdown, the hijab has become a significant concern for many voters.

Long a symbol of religious identity, the hijab is also a political tool in Iran. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, women have opposed the mandatory hijab law in various ways. More than half of Iran’s 61 million voters are women.

Niyati Rao

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