Abolhassan Banisadr

Seyyed Abolhassan Banisadr (Persian: سید ابوالحسن بنی‌صدر; 22 March 1933 – 9 October 2021) was an Iranian politician and writer. He was the first president of Iran after the 1979 Iranian Revolution abolished the monarchy, serving from February 1980 until his impeachment by parliament in June 1981. Prior to his presidency, he was the minister of foreign affairs in the interim government. He had resided for many years in France where he co-founded the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Abolhassan Banisadr
ابوالحسن بنی‌صدر
Abolhassan Banisadr portrait 1980 2.jpg
Banisadr in 1980
1st President of Iran
In office
4 February 1980 – 22 June 1981
Supreme LeaderRuhollah Khomeini
Prime MinisterMohammad-Ali Rajai
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMohammad-Ali Rajai
Head of Council of the Islamic Revolution
In office
7 February 1980[1] – 20 July 1980
Preceded byMohammad Beheshti[1]
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
12 November 1979 – 29 November 1979
Appointed byCouncil of the Revolution
Preceded byEbrahim Yazdi
Succeeded bySadegh Ghotbzadeh
Minister of Finance
In office
17 November 1979 – 10 February 1980
Appointed byCouncil of the Revolution
Preceded byAli Ardalan
Succeeded byHossein Namazi
Member of the Assembly of Experts for Constitution
In office
15 August 1979 – 15 November 1979
ConstituencyTehran Province
Majority1,752,816 (69.4%)
Personal details
Born(1933-03-22)22 March 1933
Hamadan, Pahlavi Iran
Died9 October 2021(2021-10-09) (aged 88)
Paris, France
Political partyIndependent
Other political
Ozra Hosseini
(m. 1961)

Following his impeachment, Banisadr fled Iran and found political asylum in France. Banisadr later focused on political writings about his activities during the Iranian revolution and his critiques of the Iranian government. He became a critic of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the country's handling of its 2009 elections.

Early life and educationEdit

Banisadr was born on 22 March 1933 in Hamadān, to an Iranian Azeri family.[3] His father was an ayatollah and close to Ruhollah Khomeini.[4] Banisadr studied law, theology, and sociology at University of Tehran.[5] In the 1960s, he studied finance and economics at the Sorbonne.[5][6] In 1972, Banisadr's father died and he attended the funeral in Iraq, where he first met Ayatollah Khomeini.[7]

His father, seyyed Nasrollah Banisadr migrated to the Hamadan area from Qazi Qushchi village, populated by Azerbaijanis in Bijar in Kurdistan province.[8]

Banisadr participated in the anti-Shah student movement during the early 1960s and was imprisoned twice, and was wounded during an uprising in 1963, which led to his fleeing to France.[4][7] He later joined the Iranian resistance group led by Khomeini, becoming one of his hard-line advisors.[4][7] Banisadr returned to Iran together with Khomeini as the revolution was beginning in February 1979. He wrote a book on Islamic finance, Eghtesad Tohidi, which roughly translates as "The Economics of Monotheism."[9]


Following the Iranian Revolution, Banisadr became deputy minister of finance on 4 February 1979 and was in office until 27 February 1979.[10] He also became a member of the revolutionary council when Bazargan and others left the council to form the interim government.[10] After the resignation of the interim finance minister Ali Ardalan on 27 February 1979, he was appointed finance minister by then prime minister Mehdi Bazargan.[10][11] On 12 November 1979, Banisadr was appointed foreign minister to replace Ebrahim Yazdi in the government that was led by the Council of the Islamic Revolution when the interim government resigned.[11]

Banisadr was elected to a four-year term as president on 25 January 1980, receiving 78.9 percent of the vote in the election, and was inaugurated on 4 February.[12] Khomeini remained the Supreme Leader of Iran with the constitutional authority to dismiss the president.[13] The inaugural ceremonies were held at the hospital where Khomeini was recovering from a heart ailment.[14]

Banisadr was not an Islamic cleric; Khomeini had insisted that clerics should not run for positions in the government.[15] In August and September 1980, Banisadr survived two helicopter crashes near the Iran–Iraq border.[16] During the Iran–Iraq War, Banisadr was appointed acting commander-in-chief by Khomeini on 10 June 1981.[17]

Banisadr (left) inaugurated as first President of Iran in 1980. Mohammad Beheshti is on the right and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani at his back.


The Majlis (Iran's Parliament) impeached Banisadr in his absence on 21 June 1981,[18] allegedly because of his moves against the clerics in power,[19] in particular Mohammad Beheshti, then head of the judicial system. Khomeini himself appears to have instigated the impeachment, which he signed the next day.[15] According to Kenneth Katzman, Banisadr believed the clerics should not directly govern Iran and was perceived as supporting the People's Mujahedin of Iran.[15] Only one deputy, Salaheddin Bayani, spoke in favor of Banisadr during his impeachment.[20]

Even before Khomeini had signed the impeachment papers, the Revolutionary Guard had seized the Presidential buildings and gardens, and imprisoned writers at a newspaper closely tied to Banisadr.[21] Over the next few days, they executed several of his closest friends, including Hossein Navab, Rashid Sadrolhefazi, and Manouchehr Massoudi.[21] Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri was among the few people in the government who remained in support of Banisadr, but he was soon stripped of his powers.[21]

At the same time, the Iranian government outlawed all political parties, except the Islamic Republican Party.[21] Government forces arrested and imprisoned members of other parties, such as the People's Mujahedin, Fadaian Khalq, Tudeh, and Paikar.[21]

Banisadr went into hiding for a few days before his removal, and hid in Tehran, protected by the People's Mujahedin (PMOI).[22] He attempted to organize an alliance of anti-Khomeini factions to retake power, including the PMOI, KDP, and the Fedaian Organisation (Minority), while eschewing any contact with monarchist exile groups.[22] He met numerous times while in hiding with PMOI leader Massoud Rajavi to plan an alliance, but after the execution on 27 July of PMOI member Mohammadreza Saadati, Banisadr and Rajavi concluded that it was unsafe to remain in Iran.[22]

In Banisadr's view, this impeachment was a coup d'état against democracy in Iran. In order to settle the political differences in the country, President Banisadr had asked for a referendum.[23]

Flight and exileEdit

When Banisadr was impeached on 21 June 1981, he had fled and had been hiding in western Iran.[18] On 29 July, Banisadr and Massoud Rajavi were smuggled aboard an Iranian Air Force Boeing 707 piloted by Colonel Behzad Moezzi.[4] It followed a routine flight plan before deviating out of Iranian groundspace to Turkish airspace and eventually landing in Paris.[18] As a disguise, Banisadr shaved his eyebrows and mustache and dressed in a skirt.[24][25]

Banisadr and Rajavi found political asylum in Paris, conditional on abstaining from anti-Khomeini activities in France.[4] This restriction was effectively ignored after France evacuated its embassy in Tehran.[4] Banisadr, Rajavi, and the Kurdish Democratic Party set up the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris in October 1981.[4][22] Banisadr soon fell out with Rajavi, however, accusing him of ideologies favoring dictatorship and violence.[11] Furthermore, Banisadr opposed the armed opposition as initiated and sustained by Rajavi, and sought support for Iran during the war with Iraq.[11]

My Turn to SpeakEdit

In 1991, Banisadr released an English translation of his 1989 text My Turn to Speak: Iran, the Revolution and Secret Deals with the U.S.[26] In the book, Banisadr alleged covert dealings between the Ronald Reagan presidential campaign and leaders in Tehran to prolong the Iran hostage crisis before the 1980 United States presidential election.[27] He also claimed that Henry Kissinger plotted to set up a Palestinian state in the Iranian province of Khuzestan and that Zbigniew Brzezinski conspired with Saddam Hussein to plot Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran.[26]

Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post wrote: "The book is not what normally passes for a bestseller. Cobbled together from a series of interviews conducted by French journalist Jean-Charles Deniau, it is never merely direct when it can be enigmatic, never just simple when it can be labyrinthine."[28] In a review for Foreign Affairs, William B. Quandt described the book as "a rambling, self-serving series of reminiscences" and "long on sensational allegations and devoid of documentation that might lend credence to Bani-Sadr's claims."[26] Kirkus Reviews called it "an interesting—though frequently incredible and consistently self-serving-memoir" and said "frequent sensational accusations render his tale an eccentric, implausible commentary on the tragic folly of the Iranian Revolution."[29]


Banisadr in 2010

Banisadr, in a 2008 interview with the Voice of America on the 29th anniversary of the revolution, claimed that Khomeini was directly responsible for the violence originated from the Muslim world and that the promises Khomeini made in exile were broken after the revolution.[30] In July 2009, Banisadr publicly denounced the Iranian government's conduct after the disputed presidential election: "Khamenei ordered the fraud in the presidential elections and the ensuing crackdown on protesters."[31] He said the government was "holding on to power solely by means of violence and terror" and accused its leaders of amassing wealth for themselves, to the detriment of other Iranians.[31]

In published articles on the 2009 Iranian presidential election protests, he ascribed the unusually open political climate before the election to the government's great need to prove its legitimacy.[32] He also said the government had lost all legitimacy.[33] The spontaneous uprising had cost the government its political legitimacy, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's threats led to the violent crackdown, which cost the government its religious legitimacy.[33]

Personal life and deathEdit

Beginning in 1981, Banisadr lived in Versailles, near Paris, in a villa closely guarded by French police.[31][32] Banisadr's daughter, Firoozeh, married Massoud Rajavi in Paris following their exile.[4][34][35] They later divorced and the alliance between he and Rajavi also ended.[4][34]

After a long illness, Banisadr died at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris on 9 October 2021, at age 88.[36][37][38] He is buried in Versailles, in the cemetery of Gonards.[39]


  • Touhid Economics, 1980[40]
  • My Turn to Speak: Iran, the Revolution and Secret Deals with the U.S. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 1991. ISBN 0-08-040563-0. Translation of Le complot des ayatollahs. Paris: La Découverte, 1989[41]
  • Le Coran et le pouvoir: principes fondamentaux du Coran, Imago, 1993[42]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Barseghian, Serge (February 2008). "مجادلات دوره مصدق به شورای انقلاب کشیده شد". Shahrvand Weekly. Institute for humanities and cultural studies (36).
  2. ^ Houchang E. Chehabi (1990). Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism: The Liberation Movement of Iran Under the Shah and Khomeini. I.B.Tauris. p. 200. ISBN 978-1850431985.
  3. ^ Jessup, John E. (1998). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Conflict and Conflict Resolution, 1945-1996. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-313-28112-9.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle; Ali Mohammadi (January 1987). "Post-Revolutionary Iranian Exiles: A Study in Impotence". Third World Quarterly. 9 (1): 108–129. doi:10.1080/01436598708419964. JSTOR 3991849.
  5. ^ a b Kinzer, Stephen (10 October 2021). "Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, Former Iranian President, Dies at 88". The New York Times. p. A21. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Banisadr, Iran's first president after 1979 revolution, dies". News Observer. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Rubin, Barry (1980). Paved with Good Intentions (PDF). New York: Penguin Books. p. 308. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2013.
  8. ^ http://shora.bijar.ir/fa-IR/BijarPortal/4929/page/-سید-نصرالله-بنی-صدر-
  9. ^ Bekkin, Renat. "Iran: Experimenting with the Islamic Economy". CA&C Press AB. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  10. ^ a b c Metz, Helen Chapin. "The Revolution" (PDF). Phobos. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d "Abolhasan Bani-Sadr". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Banisadr, Iran's First President After the 1979 Revolution, Dies". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. 9 October 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  13. ^ "BANI-SADR IS DISMISSED BY KHOMEINI AS CHIEF OF IRAN ARMED FORCES". The New York Times. 11 June 1981. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Iran: Abolhassan Bani-sadar Is Sworn In As First President Of Iran. 1980". British Pathe. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  15. ^ a b c Kenneth Katzman (2001). "Iran: The People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran". In Albert V. Benliot (ed.). Iran: Outlaw, Outcast, Or Normal Country?. Nova Publishers. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-56072-954-9.
  16. ^ "Banisadr, Iran's first president after 1979 revolution, dies". Spectrum Local News. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  17. ^ Mozaffari, Mahdi (1993). "Changes in the Iranian political system after Khomeini's death". Political Studies. XLI (4): 611–617. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9248.1993.tb01659.x. S2CID 143804127.
  18. ^ a b c Sahimi, Mohammad (20 August 2013). "Iran's Bloody Decade of 1980s". Payvand. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Iranian presidential elections 2013: the essential guide". The Guardian. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Iran Parliament finds Banisadr unfit for office", The New York Times, Reuters, p. 1, 22 June 1981, retrieved 1 September 2021
  21. ^ a b c d e Schirazi, Asghar, The Constitution of Iran: politics and the state in the Islamic Republic, London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 1997, p.293-4
  22. ^ a b c d Sepehr Zabih (1982). Iran Since the Revolution. Taylor & Francis. pp. 133–136. ISBN 978-0-7099-3000-6.
  23. ^ Bani-Sadr, Abolhassan (10 February 2014). "35 Years On, It is Time to Return to the Democratic Spirit of the Iranian Revolution". Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Bani-Sadr Flees to Paris For 2nd Exile". The Washington Post. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  25. ^ "Bani-Sadr escapes to Paris". UPI. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  26. ^ a b c Quandt, Walter B. (Winter 1991). "My Turn To Speak: Iran, the Revolution and Secret Deals with the U.S." Foreign Affairs. Council on Foreign Relations. doi:10.2307/20045078. JSTOR 20045078. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  27. ^ Neil A Lewis (7 May 1991). "Bani-Sadr, in U.S., Renews Charges of 1980 Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
  28. ^ Grove, Lloyd (6 May 1991). "Bani-Sadr Thickens the Plot". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  29. ^ Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr. "My Turn to Speak: Iran, the Revolution and Secret Deals with the US". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Persian TV weekly highlights". Voice of America. 19 February 2008. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  31. ^ a b c "Former Iran president says Khamenei behind election "fraud"". WashingtonTV. 7 July 2009. Archived from the original on 28 July 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
  32. ^ a b Abolhassan Banisadr (3 July 2009). "The Regime Cares Nothing about Human Rights". Die Welt / Qantara. Archived from the original on 20 August 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
  33. ^ a b Bani-Sadr, Abolhassan (31 July 2009). "Iran at the Crossroads". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  34. ^ a b Irani, Bahar (19 February 2011). "Indispensability of Examining Sexual Abuses within the Cult of Rajavi". Habilian Association. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  35. ^ Smith, Craig S. (24 September 2005). "Exiled Iranians Try to Foment Revolution From France". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  36. ^ ابوالحسن بنی‌صدر درگذشت (in Persian)
  37. ^ "Family, Iranian state media say Iran's first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, dies in Paris from long illness at age 88". ABC News. 9 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Former Iranian President Bani-Sadr dies in Paris". Reuters. 9 October 2021. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  39. ^ https://www.tv78.com/yvelines-communaute-iranienne-rend-hommage-abolhassan-bani-sadr-versailles/
  40. ^ "IRAN: EXPERIMENTING WITH THE ISLAMIC ECONOMY". CAC.org. Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  41. ^ Qu, William B. (28 January 2009). "My Turn To Speak: Iran, The Revolution and Secret Deals with the U.S". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 9 October 2021. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  42. ^ "Le Coran et le pouvoir: Principes fondamentaux du Coran (Hors collection Imago) (French Edition)". AbeBooks. Retrieved 9 October 2021.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Ali Ardalan
Minister of Finance of Iran
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran (Acting)
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Council of Islamic Revolution
Succeeded by
Position abolished
New title
Position established
President of Iran
Succeeded by
Military offices
Title last held by
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces
Succeeded by