Khatami, Muhammad

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Khatami, Muhammad (1943– ) Iranian statesman, president (1997– ). A leading opponent of Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, he was elected to Iran's national assembly after the Islamic Revolution (1979). In 1982, Khatami was appointed minister of culture and Islamic guidance by Ayatollah Khomeini. Conservative clerics criticized Khatami's relatively liberal stance on press freedom, and he was forced to resign in 1992. Outgoing President Hashemi Rafsanjani supported Khatami in the 1997 presidential elections, and Khatami's campaign for economic reform and greater social freedom gained him 70% of the vote. His moderate government faced strong opposition from the conservative establishment, whose blocking of reforms led to widespread unrest in 1999. Re-elected with 77% of the popular vote in 2001, Khatami continued with reforms.