I am running for President of Iran. My name is Hooshang Amirahmadi. Ask me anything!
THANK YOU for joining us again, Redditors. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and appreciate the civility and thought-provoking questions and comments. After five hours of answering them, however, I wish you all a good night! Please keep our campaign in your minds, and help us in whatever way you can.
We have accomplished a great deal since our first Reddit AMA. Our Persian Facebook Page now has 45K Likes, our English Page has over 15K, and our Iranian supporters have created their own page with 20K likes in just two weeks!
We have spoken at NYU, Columbia, UC Berkeley, Virginia Tech, University of Aberdeen, and Queen's University Belfast. Now we are back to where this campaign really kicked off, Reddit, to touch base with our Redditors!
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Let's make this a great AMA!
To put it shortly yes. I believe that politics and religion cannot be separated, but religion as an ideology of the state, dictating public policy, is not acceptable. It is neither good for religion nor the state to be mixed.
Maybe you should say Hi to r/Iran. I think they would like to talk to you! <3
Good idea. Just said hi to them and answered a question. I will gladly monitor both subreddits and answer questions there as well
I disagree with the idea that it cannot be done in general, but maybe it would be extremely difficult in your specific country. Why do you believe that? Do many people in your country disagree with the idea of desperation between church and state?
This is because there is a difference between religion and state and religion and politics. I believe that religious people have the same rights as anyone else to participate in the political process, and it is unfair to ask them to disregard their religious beliefs once elected. Even in the United States, religious people have run for elected office including Mike Huckabee, Pat Buchanan, Rev. Jessie Jackson, and many others.
On the other hand, religion (church) and state I believe should be kept separate. That is to say, the church should not be mixed with the government in a way that allows it to dictate public policy. In the US Constitution, makes religion and state separate but not religion and politics.
I'd vote for you
Thank you for the support. We are running an international campaign— this is a novel concept that has never been implemented before. Even if you cannot cast a vote for me as president, please continue to support our long term goals and political organization. The fact of the matter is that the entire world cares about Iran, and we want to help build an Iran that has a growing economy that provides for its people, is at peace with its neighbors and the US, and has a stable political system. In short, we want you to support us in building a better Iran.
Reddit is not a particularly popular website in Iran, but we are running an international campaign. We are speaking to the Iranian people first, but channeling the support of the global community for our peaceful campaign. We are reaching Iranians through Facebook and satellite television, and reaching a different demographic through Reddit. The fact of the matter is that the next Iranian president will have implications for North America, Europe, Russia, China, India, etc. The whole world cares about Iran because the issues Iran faces are global issues. In February, we spoke at the University of Aberdeen to a packed room of 400 people. If I was running for president of some other country, that room would not have been as packed as it was. This is a clear indication that people around the world care about Iran.
QUESTION: If you could go on vacation in Iran, what would be the first site you would want to visit or the first thing you would want to do?
Hi Dr. Amirahmadi:
When and how did you get the idea to run for President of Iran?
Also, based your CV, it looks like you've spent most of your time outside of Iran for the past few decades. Are you worried that the average Iranian voter will see you as an "outsider" or "Westerner" at this point?
Over my entire life, including the time I live in Iran as well as in the United States, I have maintained interaction with Iranians in Iran. Much of my family lives there, I still own a residence there, and I have travelled back and forth countless times throughout the years. I remain deeply connected to the country.
Iranians have known about me as someone who has pushed for decades for reconciliation between the United States and Iran. I have appeared as a guest on Persian-language television stations many times and participated in conferences in Iran. Fortunately, through our groundbreaking campaign, tens of thousands of Iranians are quickly learning about our campaign and me. In fact, our Persian-language Facebook Page has gained over 45,000 Likes in under two months. In addition, some of our supporters have created their own supporters page that gained over 20,000 Likes in just two weeks. The reactions I get from Iranians is by and large positive. While I was in the country last month, I was approached by many Iranians both young and old who recognized me and said they support my campaign and had liked me on Facebook.
Of course, some Iranians will ponder about my years spent in the US. I believe that many of them are so disappointed with where the country is going and are so disappointed by their current "insider" politicians, that they will appreciate having me as an "outside" alternative.
The idea has been in the making for some years. The seriousness of the issues facing the country currently motivated me to declare candidacy and help the people of Iran. For example, factions are now inimical rather than mere rivals, tension with the US has reached a dangerous point of confrontation and the economy has been crippled to a point where the people are suffering daily. Given the fact that I have not been a part of any faction, I believe I can bring national solidarity; my work to bring peace between Iran and the US can help me normalize relations; and my training and experience in economic redevelopment can help me revitalize the Iranian economy. In short I can be a bridge builder, a peace maker and an economic manager.
Do you worry about being killed? Have there been threats or attempts on your life? And how do you avoid this?
I do not worry about this, and there have not been threats on my life. I don't believe there is any reason for such a thing to take place because everything I promote is pro-peace and within the framework of the Islamic Constitution. I am not promoting war, sanctions, nor regime change. I am simply trying to offer positive solutions to the issues that matter to Iranians, as well as the international community, the most. From the inflation and unemployment, to US-Iran relations and foreign policy, I have never said anything that is out of the bounds of the country's constitution.
I have always said that I have zero interest in being a martyr!
This man is a scam. If you look at the members of the American Iranian council, for which he is the founder, most of them are heads of big US corporations. Many of them oil companies and former ambassadors. He acts as the middle man between the government of Iran and corporation in US who in theory should not do business together.
Please take a look at the members of council here: http://american-iranian.org/people
Everyone, including him, knows he will never be able to qualify for presidency due to his US connections. But he uses this to show a friendly face to government of Iran and help him act as the middle man.
Regardless of what you think, what I have been trying to do to normalize relations between the US and Iran is in the best interest of the American and Iranian people— and according to polls 90% of the Iranian people agree.
I am very honored to have such distinguished people involved in the AIC, such as Ambassador Pickering, Robert Pelletreau, Ambassador Chas Freeman, Giandomenico Picco, and many many others. What problem exactly do you have with their accomplishments? I am also honored that John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, Joe Biden, and others have spoken at AIC events. This is no easy task to produce.
In fact, in 2000 at an AIC conference, then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright extended an apology for the US role in Operation Ajax, which overthrew Iran’s PM Mossadegh. I am very proud to have organized this momentous breakthrough in US-Iran relations.
Why would you be against American companies trading with Iran and vice versa? This would be positive for Iran's economic as well as political development. Trade and diplomacy melt dictators; sanctions and isolation fatten them. History is the proof.
Salaam Dr. Amirahmadi! Haven't seen much in the Persian press on your campaign. How well are you being accepted in the community? Are there any metrics around voter opinion yet?
Unfortunately the Iranian government is putting many restrictions on my campaign, but we are using social media and satellite television to be heard inside the country. We continue to be popular throughout the country. During my trip to Iran this April I sensed that authorities are nervous about this popularity. Domestic news outlets such as Shargh, Salnameye Tejjarat e Farda and Asman as well as Persian-language television programs like BBC Persian's Pargar VOA's Ofogh and others have covered our campaign in Iran as have other local newspapers and various web blogs and websites. As we write this we are way ahead of the competition in Iran and just today we have reached 80,000 total likes on Facebook.
I will also be appearing on BBC Persian's Hard Talk (Be Ebarat e Digar) on May 17.
So they were right... Facebook is good for something.
45,000 Iranians have joined our Persian language site in under two months. Facebook has proven to be more successful than we imagined.
YEAH! I hope you win Sir! You seem like a very good person :)
Thank you for your support.
The fact that any politician is opening himself up to questions from people, and actually answering them, is reassuring to say the least.
Isn't this what representative politics should be about?
Thank you for doing another AMA! I was just wondering what are your views on women's rights and how they should dress?
There should be no difference between men and women. All laws for men should be the same for women, including the dress code. We support a free society for all and elimination of all kinds of discrimination against women and other disadvantaged groups. Of course while women should be able to choose their lifestyle privately, they must be held accountable for their choices in the public arena as well, just like men have to. Thank you for your question!
How do you feel about Israel?
Edit: a word
The animosity between Iran and Israel is unfortunate but entirely reconcilable. The fact of the matter is that the two countries have no territorial, religious, historical, nor ideological dispute. During much of Iran's history, good relations were in place with Israel. The only thing that stands in the way is this: the Islamic Revolution. In 1979, Iran had a revolution that enshrined in its constitution the mandate to stand up for oppressed peoples around the world. It identified the Palestinians as one of those people and has taken a rejectionist stance toward Israel as a result. Therefore, the root of this problem lies in solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem. This has been a conflict since at least 1948, thirty years before the Islamic Revolution. I believe that the only lasting, peaceful solution is a two state solution with a viable, independent Palestinian state and a safe Israel with secure borders. Once that Israeli-Palestinian problem is solved, I believe the Iranian-Israeli conflict will go away much quicker than many imagine.
Hi Dr. Amirahmadi,
Do you believe that Iran can give up its nuclear program and rest assured that the United States will not meddle in Iran's internal affairs well into the future?
The problem between the US and Iran did not start with the nuclear issue, rather with the Islamic Revolution or even the 1953 coup. I don't believe a nuclear Iran can be immune from US intervention nor can a non nuclear Iran necessarily face US intervention. There are many countries with nuclear power that face American intervention (Pakistan) and other nations without nuclear power that do not face intervention (Turkey). Therefore, the nuclear technology is irrelevant to the way american foreign policy operates. What matters is the strategic relationship between the US and the particular country.
What are your thoughts on Jews?
According to Islam, Jews and Christian are considered 'ahl al kitab' or 'People of the Book', meaning we all recognize the same God of Abraham as the one and only God. Furthermore, Iran has the second largest community of Jews in the region (second after Israel). Compared to other countries, they have been able to live a relatively stable life. Unfortunately, they have of course faced problems after the Revolution, and as president I would do anything I can to prevent discrimination. The Jews of Iran deserve exactly the same civil rights as any other Iranian citizen.
I see you went to Belfast! How'd you like Ireland?
Northern Ireland was fantastic. We were hosted by a fabulous group of people, led by a student named Callum Galloway Green. He joined me on a tour of Northern Ireland's peace wall, which made the clear point that if peace could be achieved in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants, it can certainly be achieved in the Middle East as well. You can view some of the photos from Belfast of me with Callum as well as a photo at the peace wall.
I love how you remembered his name!
He was quite a nice guy. In fact, he found out about our campaign through our first Reddit AMA. He emailed us and together we organized the successful QUB event.
If your two-state solution doesn't work, what will happen with Israeli-Iranian relations? Will you remain neutral?
The two state solution is a realistic approach and is reachable as there is no other alternative. Unfortunately, because of certain tensions in the region and Israel’s nervousness about its security, the two state solution is being postponed. A change of administration in Iran and a few other regional countries will certainly help bring Israelis in line w a two state solution. This will happen and it is a matter of time. Again, it will happen only if the animosity toward Israel in the region is reduced making Israel more certain of its security in the future.
Your take on U.S. foreign policy, e.g. invading and occupying Iraq, bases all over the world, private contractors in Iraq, detaining people, interrogation techniques?
Such policies are harmful to American national interests in the long term and should be avoided at any price.
What are you planning on changing?
I am planning to change the country. We hope to follow the Chinese model where Deng Xiaopeng maintained the Communist system but changed the nation’s domestic and foreign policies and transformed China into becoming a world power.
Do you believe that the UN should back off of your nuclear program?
or do you think the attacks are warranted?
Under no circumstances is a military attack on Iran warranted as there is no legal or international security basis for it. I believe the nuclear issue is possible to resolve in a framework of win-win diplomacy. To start with, the parties must establish a relationship of trust among themselves and this is exactly what my administration would do.
Greetings Dr. Amirahmadi.
American activist with tough questions for you:
(1) Under what conditions and circumstances, if any, would your administration seek to normalize relations with the United States Government?
(2) For the Republic of Iran to engage in arms reduction control negotiations, which nations would have to participate as a prerequisite?
(3) What do you regard as the best approach for Iran for alleviating and undoing the present sanctions and embargoes?
(4) What is your opinion of the Iranian atomic technology development program? Under what conditions would you suspend or halt further research and development?
(5) Under what, if any, circumstances, would your administration engage in any form of rapproachment or detente with the Israeli government? What are your prerequisites and conditions for improving relations with that government?
1) I will be looking forward to mending relations with the US under any situation without reserving any pre-conditions. The only pre-condition I will have is that the reconciliation should be mutually beneficial to both nations.
2)Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Turkey.
3) To mend relations with the US and to do so Iran must begin with resolving the nuclear issue. The solution to this problem requires building trust and confidence with the US and other members of the UN Security Council. Beyond this stage both Iran and the US must undertake a paradigm shift in their views toward each other, in particular Iran must stop seeing the US from the prism of its revolution and the US must accept that Iran is a revolutionary state. This is a more realistic way of viewing each other.
4) As a member of the NPT Iran has the right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes but must adhere to its obligations to the Safeguard Agreement. While preserving Iran's right I will undertake a serious study of the pros and cons as well costs and benefits of pursuing nuclear programs to determine if the nation’s well being and security are better protected with or without them.
5) LIke I have said, the fact of the matter is that the two countries have no territorial, religious, historical, nor ideological dispute. The only thing that stands in the way is this: the Islamic Revolution. In 1979, Iran had a revolution that enshrined in its constitution the mandate to stand up for oppressed peoples around the world. It identified the Palestinians as one of those people and has taken a rejectionist stance toward Israel as a result. Therefore, the root of this problem lies in solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem. I believe that the only lasting, peaceful solution is a two state solution with a viable, independent Palestinian state and a safe Israel with secure borders. Once that Israeli-Palestinian problem is solved, I believe the Iranian-Israeli conflict will go away much quicker than many imagine.
Are you the Ron Paul of Iran?
It will take another 3 or 4 more campaigns to be the Ron Paul of Iran, but hopefully I will not get there! lol
What are your views on the United States involvements in your corner of the world? (vague question, i know)
What would you like to see changed on our behalf involving your country?
The US is a superpower and therefore its involvement in the Middle East should not be surprising. It is natural that it be involved in a strategic region in the world, where major energy resources are located. However, the US can do a better job with its policies in the region by promoting regional cooperation and security. US policy toward Iran should also focus on diplomacy and engagement rather than sanctions and other coercive means. The US must make a special effort to understand the common interests between itself and Iran and must promote those commonalities to resolve differences. The US must also take a different view of Iran beyond the Islamic Republic and realize that the Iranian people remain friends of America.
Where do you envision Iran being in ten years?
In ten years, I envision Iran as an economically and politically stable country that is at peace with the US and all of its neighbors. I remain an eternal optimist and will do everything I can to be a part of this developmental process. Iran's current economic situation is unfortunate, since Iran is actually a very wealthy country with rich energy and natural resources, a highly-educated workforce, varying climates, access to strategic waterways, and many other positive attributes. The reasons holding back Iran's economic development are primarily mismanagement and sanctions. As someone who has been a peacemaker in US-Iran relations for thirty years, I would be best positioned to help realize that peace. In addition, economic development is my academic and professional background. I have taught international development and public policy as a tenured professor at Rutgers and have worked for many governments and international organizations on development. I wish to offer my background and expertise to help develop Iran economically as well. A lot can be achieved in ten years!
How likely do you think it is that you will actually win this election? I ask with no disrespect intended. I feel like you are quite a progressive candidate, possibly far more progressive than many Iranians who will be voting.
So with that question, I must wonder, do you think your campaign is important because you actually expect to be elected? Or, because the fact that you have run a progressive campaign, without any injury coming to yourself, shows the progress that Iran has already experienced, and just how much more progressive it could be in the future?
The main challenge that our campaign faces is getting the approval of the Guardian Council to be allowed on the ballot. They may not approve my candidacy, in which case the Iranian people will not have an opportunity to vote for me. I am honestly not sure which way they will decide. It is possible that they will approve me if they recognize how serious the country's problems are and recognize that I can provide a better way forward. On the other hand, they may disqualify me and not offer any reason.
I believe that if the GC approved me, then the majority of voting Iranians would cast their ballot for me and I would win the presidency. The fact is that polls show they support many of my positions on engagement with the US, foreign policy, women's rights, and other issues. More importantly, they are so sick of the economic malaise and the regime's "insider" candidates that they would like to have a candidate who has a plan for revitalizing the economy as well as a candidate who does not come from inside the government.
Finally, we are in this for the long-run. Regardless of what happens this year, this campaign does not end in 1392 (Iranian calendar year). We will continue into 1393, 1394, etc. We want to build a long-term political organization that is legal within the framework of the Islamic Constitution and is pro-peace and pro-reform. We hope to gain your support in this process.
Are you a religious man?
I am a Muslim proud of my religion, but I am not a "religious man". I believe in God and I believe that religion is a major part of human spirituality. I observe religious traditions and am respectful toward religious communities.
Salamm Doctor! I have a few questions for you.
(1): What would you do to help stabilize relations with Israel? (2): What's your take on the supreme leader position as a whole? Do you think such a position should exist in Iran? (3): Do you consider Mohammd Mosadeq (from the early 1950's) as an inspiration for your for your campaign?
1) I will first focus on supporting a two state solution to the Palestinian question. Meanwhile, I will deepen a better understanding of differences between Iran and Israel as well as a their common interests. The fact is that Iran and Israel have no territorial, historical or religious problems. This is a good basis for dialogue and exchange among academics and similar groups. Hopefully such exchanges will lead to serious dialogues at the diplomatic levels.
2) Iran has been a kingdom for all its history, has always had a central authority as the basis for the unity of the nation. The supreme leader's position after the rev. was conceived to fill in the void that the shah's departure created. As long as Iran is not a democracy and the nation is not solidified on some common basis an overarching power might be a necessity. My hope is that one day the situation will change to the extent that the Iranian nation will not require a central authority to remain united.
3) Mossadegh is a very important figure in iranian history and is naturally a source of inspiration. However we need to make past into history and move forward. My leadership style is to place my vision onto the future and seek solutions that are at the cutting edge of science, technology and humanity.
Have you heard why Ahmadinejad was held by the Ayatollah's secret police?
Do you fear you might be targeted by speaking out about policy stances Khamenei does not agree with?
What is the importance of a President of Iran anyway if everything must be approved by Ayatolla Khamenei?
Edit: one more question.
- I am skeptical of the news. It has not been verified by any source inside or outside the country. President Ahmadinejad has been threatening to make public certain damaging information about unknown leaders of the Islamic Republic. At times, he has even released some information about a few, e.g., the Larijani family. However, I doubt he will go beyond the threat at this time when the most sensitive election time in Iran.
2nd question: Not particularly. Everything I am writing and saying is well within the framework of the Islamic Constitution. I have never supported any sanctions on Iran, never advocated for regime change nor promoted threats of war. Besides, I have made it very clear that my intention is not to create any disturbance, but rather to legally participate in the political process. On the policy question, there are areas where we agree and areas where we respectfully disagree, but I do not believe it is a reason for targeting.
Salaam Dr. Amirahmadi,
I have a few questions for you. Firstly, what are you willing to do if you become president to help expats establish a connection with their homeland? Secondly, how easy will you make it for tourists to visit Iran? Thirdly, I was separated from my mother when I was really young and nearly two decades later of looking, I still have no idea how I can go about finding her. So I ask how can I find a family member in Iran? Seriously, it feels like Iran is there but it isn't and it is making my only immediate goal, of finding my mother, so difficult.
First of all, I am so sorry for the saddening story of your separation from your mother. Obviously, if you have any relatives in Iran they are the best means to start looking for your mother. Otherwise, you can give as much information as you have regarding the whereabouts of your mother to the Iranian interest section in Washington, DC. As always, my campaign is willing to assist you further if you wish to provide us with information and your contact. You can reach my director of communication at [email protected]. On to your questions. 1) The Iranian expat community is over 5 million and they indeed form a virtual province. I plan to establish such a province with a governor and administration outside the country. The expats have left the nation for two reasons: -the push factors from the homeland and pull factors from the recipient countries. To reverse this immigration we need to eliminate the push factor and build stronger pull factor at home. As president I will try to eliminate the push factors such as political repression, lack of economic opportunity and social restrictions. At the same time I will strengthen the pull factors in Iran by providing opportunities for expats to advance in their relevant professional fields. 2) Iran is a historic country with vast tourist attractions. This should make it easy for the country to attract tourism. To start with I will correct Iran's foreign policy, establish normal relations with major countries, relax visa restrictions, develop infrastructure for tourism (eg. hotel, transportation), and advance Iran's image through cultural exchanges and advertising.
what are your feelings about your last name some what rhyming with Maserati and do you live a luxurious lifestyle with extreme attention to details?
Almost all Iranian last names end in i, like Hassani, Hedayati, and Kazemi. I am sure you can find a lot of them that rhyme more closely with Maserati!
I'm not certain about this, but aren't websites like reddit.com blocked in Iran? If you would become President, would this circumstance change?
Also, searching for your background I saw that you are an American citizen. Are you allowed to run for President in Iran?
My dual citizenship present no barrier to my right or ability to run for the presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, our campaign is well within the country’s constitution, has a legal precedent, promotes both the American and Iranian national interests, represents the rights of five million Iranian expatriates, and reflects my deep ties to Iran.
According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an Iranian citizen cannot change his citizenship unless he explicitly revokes it in writing and receives the approval of the Council of Ministers. I have never done so and do not intend to do so. Therefore, because I was born in Iran to an Iranian father, I remain an Iranian citizen with the right to run for elected office.
Many of the Islamic Republic’s early leaders lived in exile before returning to their motherland to help lead the nascent government. Therefore, a precedent exists for Iranian leaders based outside of the country running and winning elections in Iran.
My election as President of Iran would benefit both the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as the United States of America. This is because under an Amirahmadi administration, there would be no contradiction between American and Iranian interests. I would use my networks in both countries to help reconcile the differences that currently exist.
There are over five million Iranian expatriates living in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and all over the world. Many of them, including myself, retain their Iranian citizenship and ties to their country of origin. To illegally deny my constitutional right to run for elected office would be to deny this right to all five million of us.
In every presidential election, the Islamic Republic has encouraged its expatriate population to cast their ballots, even going so far as to set up polling stations in North America and Europe. If dual citizenship does not preclude them from voting for a candidate, there is no basis for it to preclude them from being voted as a candidate.
The Iranian Constitution sets certain standards for the president, but none of them deal with dual citizenship.
I mean this question with all respect, do you think dominant muslim countries rely too much on the muslim religion to dictate everyday life for citizens? I only ask this because I am an American, I lived in Jordan for 1 year and saw so many men (and women) having to hide their emotions and denying their individuality because of shame from their families.
Personally, I think this is torture on the soul; that for these countries to progress, citizens need to have their own voice and not have to put on a mask to confront society. Sorry for the little rant.
I do not deny the fact that certain Muslim societies let Islam dominate their lives. The solution to this issue is a long term and educational one. Just like you I hope one day that Muslims will be free from undue restrictions imposed on them by their religion.
How do you feel about the current tensions with North Korea, even after their missiles were taken out of launch positioning.
Would you do anything to foster a better relationship with the country? Thanks.
I think all international problems, including North Korea, can be resolved within the framework of diplomacy and engagement. Sanctions and isolation only embolden resistance from undemocratic states, while trade and diplomacy melt dictators.
What are your major plans for the country?
Iran has three problems: US-Iran conflict, factional infighting and economic malaise. My plan would be to normalize relations with the US, create national solidarity among all Iranians including political factions, and manage the economy on the basis of science and technology and the global economic practices. Please for further details on my plan for the nation refer to my website under the platform tab. http://amirahmadi.com/
How are you going to deal with current issues in Iran and the Middle East in general?
This question is too broad to have a specific answer. We have dealt with this in our campaign platform that can be found at http://www.amirahmadi.com/. We hope to create an environment of coexistence with our neighbors and the west. To that end we will do everything in our power to normalize relations between the US and Iran and convince the Israelis and Palestinians to settle their dispute on a basis of a two state solution. We believe that this is the right approach in mitigating the issues between Iran and Israel.
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