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Who Is President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran?

LocalWho Is President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran?

Ebrahim Raisi, 63, a hard-line religious cleric, was elected president of Iran in 2021. In his tenure as president, he has overseen a strategy to expand his country’s regional influence — backing militant proxies across the Middle East, expediting the country’s nuclear program and bringing the country to the brink of war with Israel.

But in the same period, Iran experienced its largest antigovernment protests in decades and a severe economic downturn driven by international sanctions and high unemployment.

Mr. Raisi has been seen as the likely successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader, the highest political and religious position in the Islamic republic.

Mr. Raisi, born in the eastern city of Mashhad in 1960 to a devoutly religious family, was swept up in the fervor of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which toppled the country’s monarchy in 1979.

As a religious scholar in the country’s theocratic government and a protégé of Mr. Khamenei, Mr. Raisi climbed the ranks of the country’s judiciary, serving as a prosecutor in several cities.

After being named Iran’s top judge, he is believed to have been part of a small committee that ordered the execution of thousands of political dissidents in 1988.

Accused of decades of human rights violations, Mr. Raisi is the subject of punishing sanctions by the United States.

During Mr. Raisi’s presidency, Iran faced large antigovernment protests after the death of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, in police custody. The authorities responded with a brutal crackdown that included killings and executions.

Tehran has also continued its uranium-enrichment program and gone ahead with its ballistic missile program. The country’s yearslong shadow war with Israel burst into the open last month after Iran launched a salvo of hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel. That attack resulted from escalating tensions between the two countries after Hamas, an Iranian-backed militant group, raided Israel on Oct. 7.

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