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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the inauguration of the new parliament, Tehran, Iran, May 28, 2016 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

After Nuclear Deal, Will Iran’s Rouhani Deliver on Reforms?

Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016

Millions of Iranians went to the polls in February in Iran’s first elections since Hassan Rouhani, a centrist cleric, rode a wave of hope to the presidency three years ago. Among them was the mother of 30-year-old Ali Shariati, who has been in prison since 2015. “My son Ali and a number of other political prisoners issued a statement encouraging people to vote,” she told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran after the election. “We voted. Now President Rouhani should carry out his promise from two years ago to free political prisoners.”

In 2013, Ali Shariati enthusiastically campaigned for Rouhani, who promised a government of “prudence and hope” and won by a large and surprising margin. Two years later, he was sentenced to more than a decade in prison for charges including “propaganda against the state” and “insulting the president” for making comments critical of the government on social media. While imprisoned he went on a hunger strike to call attention to his plight, and wrote an open letter imploring Rouhani to uphold the constitution and stand up to those who want to “create a crisis” for his popularly elected administration. ...

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