A Rutgers professor of planning and public policy is running for president of Iran. Hooshang Amirahmadi doesn’t sound like the typical Iranian politician; his campaign’s website focuses on economic development, fighting inflation, promoting women’s rights, and curbing pollution. His resume doesn’t read like Ahmadinejad’s, either. He received a Master’s in management from University of Dallas and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, and in 1983 he began working at Rutgers University as a professor of planning and public policy; in addition, he is the director of the Rutgers Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
The professor is currently on sabbatical, so he can actually campaign.
Amirahmadi, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Iran, is running as a “bridge builder . . . among the various political factions that are fighting each other [in Iran].” Iranians, according to Amirahmadi, need “someone who is a peacemaker that can make peace between the U.S. and Iran.”
Amirahmadi also attempted to run in Iran’s 2005 presidential election, but Iran’s Council of Guardians prevented his candidacy from taking off. He is not only confident that the Council of Guardians will allow him to run this time, but that he will win the election. “If I get approved, I will be elected,” he promises. “No question whatsoever, no problem. They will vote for me.”
The chances of that happening, according to one of Amirahmadi’s colleagues, are slim.
“Even if [the Guardian Council] were to allow him to run,” said Eric Davis, a professor of political science at Rutgers and a former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, “I think that since he’s living outside the country then some people will be suspicious of what he’s trying to do that he’d not get the necessary votes to actually win.”