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Ebrahim Asgharzadeh (Persian: ابراهیم اصغرزاده‎) is an Iranian political activist and politician. He served as a member of the 3rd Majlis (Iran's legislature) from 1988–1992 and as a member of the first City Council of Tehran from 1999–2003. His career in politics started as one of the leaders of the group Muslim student followers of the Imam's line that took over the American embassy and held American embassy staff hostage for 444 days.

Ebrahim Asgharzadeh
Photo taken during Iranian oral history project by Hossein Dehbashi uploaded by Mardetanha (79).jpg
Vice Chairman of City Council of Tehran
In office
13 February 2002 – 15 January 2003
ChairmanMohammad Atrianfar
Preceded bySaeed Hajjarian
Succeeded byHassan Bayadi
Member of City Council of Tehran
In office
29 April 1999 – 15 January 2003
Majority347,173 (24.73%)
Member of the Parliament
In office
28 May 1988 – 28 May 1992
ConstituencyTehran, Rey, Shemiranat and Eslamshahr
Personal details
Born (1955-12-28) 28 December 1955 (age 63)
Khash, Iran
Political partyIslamic Iran Solidarity Party
Alma materTehran Polytechnic


Asgharzadeh was a 24-year-old Industrial engineering student at a Sharif University of Technology in Tehran at the time of the Islamic revolution.[1] He was the leader of the newly formed Office for Strengthening Unity, a group founded by Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti to counter the influence among university students of the anti-theocratic Mojahedin-e Khalq.[2]

Asgharzadeh became well known as a leader of the embassy takeover. From 1982 to 1988, Asgharzadeh worked closely with future president Muhammad Khatami, who was then head of the official Kayhan newspaper and later became the minister of culture and Islamic guidance. Asgharzadeh also served as a military commander in the war with Iraq for six months.[3]

After 1988 Asgharzadeh began calling for more openness and "voicing his opposition to the clerics' policies."[3] In 1988 Asgharzadeh was elected to Parliament representing a district in Tehran.[4] By 1992 his "outspokenness" provoked the conservative Guardian Council into disqualifying him for running for most elected posts and sentencing him to a month in solitary confinement. After being released from prison he abandoned his career as an engineer and returned to school, studying political science at Tehran University, where, as of 2002, he was working on a doctorate.[3] In 1996 he helped set up the Iranian reform movement that led to the election of Khatami a year later, and ran for municipal council (the only post where elections are not screened by the Guardian Council).[3]

In 1998 Asgharzadeh was preaching the importance of city and village council elections that would build democracy in Iran from the ground up. He was beaten up in the city of Hamadan by men with iron bars, his glasses broken and suit torn, when he tried to give a lecture there.[5]

In early 2001 he was a city council member in Tehran, speaking out against the news blackout of his candidacy imposed by reformist papers, and the polarization of presidential elections. He attempted to run as a reformist presidential candidate in the 2001 election against then-incumbent President Mohammad Khatami, though aware of the "high possibility" he would be disqualified by the electoral supervisory body of the Guardian Council.[6]

He was later arrested for publishing the reformist Salam newspaper which was critical of the government.[4]

In his politics and journalism Asgharzadeh has strongly urged the Supreme Leader and other powerful clerics to adopt democratic reforms, such as freedom of the press and the elimination of veto powers they wield over political candidates and legislation.[citation needed] He is said to represent an Islamist faction "more rooted in the left-wing and egalitarian ethos of the revolution" than theocracy.

In foreign policy, Asgharzadeh has been described as an advocate of "improved relations with the United States", who questioned President Khatami's handling of "an opportunity to mend relations with the United States" when he (Khatami) failed to follow up on a March 2000 acknowledgement by American Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright of "American errors in its dealings with Iran, including Washington's support for a coup in 1953."[3] On the other hand, according to Mahan Abedin, he is "probably the most determined and effective anti-American ideologue in the contemporary world", and an even "more determined opponent of American hegemony" than he was as a hostage-taker of Americans in 1979.[7]


  1. ^ Ebrahim Asgharzadeh Biography Archived 12 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Personal Website (Persian)
  2. ^ Bowden, Mark, Guests of the Ayatollah, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006, p. 615
  3. ^ a b c d e Fathi, Nazila (5 November 2002). "Former Hostage Taker Now Likes to Take On the Mullahs". New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Remembering the Iran hostage crisis. 4 November 2004
  5. ^ Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies by Barbara Slavin p. 109
  6. ^ 5/6/2001. Presidential hopeful slams reformist papers' news blackout
  7. ^ Abedin, Mahan (12 December 2008). "The great wall between Iran and the US". Asia Times. Retrieved 25 May 2013.

External linksEdit

Civic offices
Preceded by
Saeed Hajjarian
Vice Chairman of City Council of Tehran
Succeeded by
Hassan Bayadi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mohammad-Reza Rahchamani
Secretary-General of Islamic Iran Solidarity Party Succeeded by
Ali-Asghar Ahmadi