Update: Who is who in Iran’s elections?

Well, two days ago, when I wrote a post about upcoming presidential elections in Iran, I should have guessed it – I was stepping into a mine field 🙂

Ethnicity was always a very sensitive issue in Iran, and my speculations about ethnic background of Iranian presidential candidates received some feedback from my Iranian readers – some of those comments were requesting clarifications or corrections, and some were adding information about things that were missing from my post. Therefore, I thought there is a need for this additional post to answer one simple question – who is who in Iranian elections.

As you perhaps know, there are four presidential candidates in upcoming Iranian elections. Two of them are conservatives and two of them are reformists. The first candidate is our old acquaintance Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Mahmud Ahmadinezhad) who is also a main representative of the conservatives. In my previous post I have written that he was an ethnic Talysh based on this passage from Wikipedia [in-text citations removed]:

Ahmadinejad, born Mahmoud Saborjhian was the son of a blacksmith, born near Garmsar in the village of Aradan in Talysh family on 28 October 1956. The name, which derives from thread painter, a once common and humble occupation, was changed into Ahmadinejad, meaning the race of Mohammed or the virtuous race. According to his relatives, it was for "a mixture of religious and economic reasons." During the presidential campaign in 2009, political opponents have speculated that the name was changed in order to cover Jewish roots. In the 1950s, when he was still a baby, his family moved from Aradan to Narmak district in southern Tehran in search of more economic prosperity; It was during this time period that the Saborjhian family changed its name to Ahmadinejad.

Interesting enough, back in 2006, a mainstream Russian news portal Lenta.ru referred to Ahmadinejad as an Iranian Azerbaijani. However, Iranian readers categorically say that either Ahmadinejad is an ethnic Persian, or they have heard about his being Talysh from my post. Anyway, “Ahmadinejad’s ethnicity is not an issue really” writes one of the readers. 

Mir-Hossein Mousavi (Mirhoseyn Musavi) is an Iranian Azerbaijani and Mehdi Karroubi (Mehdi Karrubi) is a Lur – there are no doubts about these issues. And both of these candidates are from reformist camp. 

And finally, the fourth and last candidate is conservative Mohsen Rezai (Mohsen Reza’i) – about whom I wrote in my previous post that I didn’t know his ethnicity, but he was born in Khuzestan, Iran’s Arab province and according to his wanted profile at Interpol website, he spoke Arabic. But now, things get clearer a bit – Rezai seems to be also an ethnic Lur, but from a distinct tribe of Bakhtiaris.

Thus, as a conclusion, we can say that in this year’s presidential election in Iran three of four candidates are, for sure, representatives of ethnic minorities, while the ethnicity of the third one is still a matter of speculations.