Political Figure / Prime Minister of Iran
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Iranian presidential challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mir-Hossein Mousavi is the former prime minister of Iran who ran against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the elections of 2009. Trained as an architectural engineer, Mousavi has been active in politics since his student days in the 1970s, when he protested the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Mousavi joined the 1979 revolution that deposed Pahlavi for the Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; Mousavi served as foreign minister in 1980 and then as prime minister from 1981-89. He earned high marks for managing Iran's economy during its eight-year war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq, but Mousavi's post was constitutionally eliminated in 1989. Since then he's been out of the limelight, teaching, advising and painting (he's known for colorful abstracts). The president of the Iranian Academy of Arts since 1998, Mousavi was a surprise entrant in the 2009 campaign as a "reform" candidate, and his broad support and canny use of the Internet led to mass demonstrations that seemed to point to a close election on June 12th. After Ahmadinejad was officially declared the winner in an alleged landslide, Mousavi and his supporters cried foul and refused to accept the results. Three days later Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for an investigation of fraud claims and election rigging, while Mousavi supporters continued public protests.