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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Who is he?:

The sixth and current president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A civil engineer by trade who won favor with the ruling theocracy through unappointed governorships and administrative roles. Former mayor of Tehran after winning a city council seat with just 12 percent voter turnout; he rolled back reforms made by his more moderate predecessor. A hardliner who regularly tangles with the international community and has drawn criticism from within Iran for putting forth such a combative stance. Became the first non-cleric president in 24 years upon his election in August 2005.

Birthdate:

Oct. 28, 1956, in Ardan, Iran, a village in the northern central part of Iran. He has six siblings; his father was a tradesman who taught the Koran and his mother was reputed to have been a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

Personal life:

Married to a professor and has two sons -- Mahdi, who is a civil engineer, and Alireza -- and a daughter, who is an electrical engineer. In 2006, his daughter married the son of Ahmad Khorshidi, a pro-Ahmadinejad political activist. In 2008, his son Mahdi married the daughter of Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, the head of Iran’s Tourism and Cultural Heritage Organization and one of Ahmadinejad’s deputies.

Political affiliation:

The Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran, a conservative, populist umbrella group of neo-fundamentalist non-clerics.

Career:

Ahmadinejad always showed loyalty to the Islamic Revolution, but claims he never served in the Revolutionary Guard but as a civilian militiaman. He earned a PhD at the Iran University of Science and Technology in civil engineering and traffic transportation planning and later joined the faculty. Ahmadinejad leans upon science reasons for pursuing Iran's nuclear technology. Through his studies he served in political office in a provincial capacity. However, he was removed from the governor general position in Ardabil Province by Mohammad Khatami, the president who he would replace and whose reforms he would roll back.

Future:

Ahmadinejad was handed a second term in a highly disputed June 2009 election that touched off a storm of protests in support of the reformist candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. This has resulted in an unprecedented rising wave of opposition in Iran, clearly unnerving Tehran as they crack down harshly on dissent. Mousavi is the closest threat to Ahmadinejad, though other figures in Iran have challenged not only the foreign-policy belligerence exhibited by Ahmadinejad but economic woes and human-rights issues. Ahmadinejad also faces mounting sanctions from the international community over the country's nuclear program.

Quote:

"They [Western powers] launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews." -- Ahmadinejad at a September 2009 Quds Day rally in Tehran
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