Abu 'L-Hasan Bani-Sadr (1933– )
ABU 'L-HASAN BANI-SADR (1933– )
Abu 'l-Hasan Bani-Sadr, born in 1933 to a clerical family from the city of Hamadan, became the first president-elect of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the 1979 revolution. He studied Islamic law and economics at the University of Tehran, then continued his studies at the Sorbonne, in Paris, where his focus was on economics and the role of Islam in social change. Like many of his contemporaries, who combined western European training with an Islamic education, he developed a focus on interpreting Islam as a "unitarian" ideology (towhidi) for economic and cultural independence from the West, based on the notion of divine unity.
Bani-Sadr lived in exile in Europe from 1963 until 1979, as a result of his political activities at Tehran University. In Europe he became one of the most important activists of the National Front in Iran and abroad and a key organizer of Iranian students outside Iran. He came in contact with Ayatollah Khomeini first in 1972, in Najaf, and later in France where Khomeini spent his last days in exile. In 1980, Bani-Sadr became the first president-elect of the Islamic Republic of Iran with 75 percent of the vote. He did not represent any organization or political party. In contrast, his opponents in the Islamic Republic Party (IRP) were well-organized and made advances in the parliamentary election, and in the spring of 1980 they dominated the parliament. In 1980 and 1981 effective power shifted to the IRP parliamentary majority who named Prime Minister Raja˒ I ignoring Bani-Sadr's candidates for the cabinet. He later lost his presidency to conservative rivals in the IRP, as a result of a parliamentary vote of incompetence and impeachment. Later he fled the country and once again joined the exiled opposition in Paris.