A Rutgers University professor is trying his hand at appeasing the tensions between America and his home country of Iran. The odds may be against him, but it just might be the best diplomatic solution to an increasingly polarized conflict.
Hooshang Amirahmadi, 65, teaches public policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey. In an attempt to assert his own public policy, Amirahmadi has submitted his candidacy to be considered as the next president of Iran.
Though a lofty and ambitious goal, Amirahmadi is more than up for the task of easing relations between his native county of Iran and the United States, which is where he's called home for 40 years.
"I feel like, you know, it's not easy to be an Iranian originally and be here, and be a citizen of this country, and see the two sides of you fight each other every day," Amirahmadi said regarding his identification with Iranian-Americans. He founded the American Iranian Council to help smooth diplomatic relations after his now 21-year-old daughter asked him a few years back about why the two countries can't get along.
The 2009 Iranian presidential election, when Iran's current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected for his second and last term, was the focus of intense international scrutiny after reports of fraud and corruption emerged via social media sites. Though Ahmadinejad was elected, the pro-democracy protests that followed may be a strong indicator that Iranian citizens will strongly urge for change in this year's election.
Though Iran has claimed that this year's election will be the "freest in the world," an U.N. investigator said this month that there are still widespread abuses of human rights in the country, and is concerned about government crackdown and torture of Iranian activits, journalists and lawyers in this upcoming election
Whatever the sentiment of the people, though, Amirahmadi must be approved by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's Guardian Council in order to earn a spot on June's ballot. Simply the fact of Amirahmadi's dual American-Iranian citizenship could lead to his downfall, to say nothing of belief in free press and government based on rationalism, not religion.
Amirahmadi, however, remains confident that he can get approved. He has spoken with members of the Guardian Council, and has frequently flown out to the country for various projects relating to his diplomatic goals.
If able to run, Amirahmadi's campaign would like to redefine the image of Iran and advocate for the world's trust in its government, which would undoubtedly spark worldwide conversations and perhaps even exemplify the political changes the country has waited far too long for.
"I have probably the best chance to bring them together," Amirahmadi said of the U.S. and Iran. And he just might be right.
Watch an interview with Amirahmadi here.