Candidate for Iranian presidency visits NYU

January 30, 2013

As the next Iranian presidential election approaches, a candidate in the election, Professor Hooshang Amirahmadi came to  discussed the qualifications necessary for the next leader. As President of the American Iranian Council, Amirahmadi teaches at Rutgers University where he also serves as a director of the Middle Eastern Studies program.

At Monday night’s event, Amirahmadi welcomed every guest with a genuine smile. The first qualification, he said, is the ability to build bridges between political factions.

“Iranian political groups are polarized and unstable,” Amirahmadi said. “Therefore, [the] Iranian president should be able to reconcile various political groups.”

The second qualification was for the next leader to place cooperation as a top priority.

“Since one of the biggest problems facing Iran is its severed relationship with the U.S. and the West, the next president should be a mediator who brings peace,” he said.

The final qualification, Amirahmadi emphasized, is the need for the president to be a savvy economic manager who can tackle Iran’s economic problems, which were brought on by economic sanctions and political infighting. Amirahmadi hopes Iran can become more united not only among different factions, but also between the government and the people.

Amirahmadi also expressed opinions regarding relations between Iran and the United States. He believes the United States and other Western countries think Iran intends to build nuclear weapons, when in fact, Iran hopes for peace. Amirahmadi maintains that the main issue between the two regions is lack of trust.

“When there is lack of trust, you can’t hope for resolution,” he said. “Therefore, Iran must earn trust first. Unfortunately, it is going to be difficult. Iran needs a person like me to establish peace in the middle to help them. I lived in both places and I know their cultures, exactly what they are saying and what they mean.”

Amirahmadi concluded his speech with advice for NYU students.

“Students should have ardor for learning … And the most important thing is to get involved in politics, daily life and life of their community because education is not just in the university classroom, most of the education starts in the society,” he said. “I think people just limit education to the university and classrooms.”

Emily Burlinghaus, an LSP sophomore who attended the event, wished there were more details in Amirahmadi’s speech.

“I have a strong interest in the Persian culture and politics … I think [if elected] he will definitely bring improvement in Iran, but I would like to hear more specifics about what he would do to reform the government in the society,” Burlinghaus said.

Kayvon Afshari, director of communications for Amirahmadi’s campaign, graduated from the Graduate School of Arts and Science with a Master of Arts in International Relations in 2012. Afshari believes his candidate can create unique policy changes in Iran.

“The only way that Iran is to prosper is by maintaining system but changing its policy, and I think Dr. Amirahmadi is qualified to do it,” said Afshari. “I do not think that right now there is anybody who is inside of the system who can emerge as a leader who can promote national reconciliation.”

A version of this article appeared in the Jan. 30 print edition. Su Sie Park is a contributing writer. Email her at university@nyunews.com.

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