“Bani Sadr was active in the early 1960s in the emergence of the Second National Front and played a leading role in its student section,” Iranian-American historian Fakhruddin Azimi said in an interview for this obituary. “After the revolution, as president in the most unfavorable circumstance, he sought to count on Khomeini’s support and goodwill, as well as on his popularity to fend off or slow the rise of clerical supremacy.”
His efforts, given the widespread anarchy of secular forces, actually or potentially favorable to him, and the ability of the clergy to win over Khomeini, were doomed to failure. With the loss of Khomeini’s support, his fate was sealed.
Mr. Bani-Sadr was born on March 22, 1933 to a family of pious landowners in Hamedan, Iran, said to be one of the oldest cities in the world. After studying law, theology and sociology at the University of Tehran, he moved to Paris where he spent several years in the 1960s studying at the Sorbonne. He became involved in the student movement and led the protests against the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
No information was immediately available on the survivors of Bani Sadr.
In the 1970s, Bani-Sadr met Ayatollah Khomeini, a friend of his late father, who was also a cleric. They were reunited in Paris after Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled there in 1978.
In one of the most spectacular political downfalls of the 20th century, the Shah fled Iran on January 16, 1979. Ayatollah Khomeini, who had led the revolution from exile, returned home two weeks later. In the broad-based government installed by the Ayatollah, Mr. Bani-Sadr held the position of Deputy Minister of Finance, then Minister of Finance, and finally as Minister of Foreign Affairs With the blessing of the Ayatollah, Mr. Bani-Sadr easily won the presidential election January 25, 1980. But the Ayatollah secured approval of the constitution It gives him the power to dismiss superiors at will. Over the next eighteen months, he directed the rise and fall of Bani Sadr.
In his first weeks in power, Bani Sadr worked to restore order to the chaos left by the collapse of the Shah’s government. However, he was soon distracted by the hostage crisis.