Madam Secretary

Iranian candidate’s wife compared to Hillary

  Iranians head to the polls Friday to select one of four men vying to be president. Many of the Islamic Republic’s people are fed up with current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has presided over a crumbling economy and damaged the country’s international standing. If Ahmadinejad loses, the man most likely to take his place ...

585084_090610_ZahraRahnavard2.jpg

Zahra Rahnavard, June 7, 2009  

Iranians head to the polls Friday to select one of four men vying to be president. Many of the Islamic Republic’s people are fed up with current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has presided over a crumbling economy and damaged the country’s international standing. If Ahmadinejad loses, the man most likely to take his place is reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Mousavi lacks charisma, but he has somebody on the campaign trail to make up for it: his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, a 62-year-old scholar, artist, mother of three, and former university chancellor who has written at least 15 books and was once an advisor to former President Mohammad Khatami.

Women in Iran are going wild for Rahnavard, who has appeared in all her husband’s campaign trips, a first in Iranian politics. A recent Los Angeles Times article compares her to Secretary Clinton, who herself has lots of experience being married to a presidential candidate:

Some in the Iranian and Western news media have likened Rahnavard to Michelle Obama, but she more closely resembles Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady and New York senator whom many considered a driving force behind her husband’s political career and presidency.

And Rahnavard is pro-women. At a recent rally in Tehran, the capital, she told an electrified crowd, “Never have women had so much self-awareness. Women have always been just under the skin of history. Today, we assert ourselves.”

In a country where first ladies have been almost invisible, Rahnavard could end up being Iran’s “first” first lady.

By the way, for a photo review of the best moments from Iran’s wild campaign, check out the photo essay I just wrote: “Ahmadi Bye-Bye in Iran?

Photo: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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