Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Moderate Muslim Wins Vote in Iran Cleric Is a Descendant of Mohammed, Defeats Rightist Favorite in Landslide

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Moderate Muslim Wins Vote in Iran Cleric Is a Descendant of Mohammed, Defeats Rightist Favorite in Landslide

Article excerpt

Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric, won Iran's presidential election Saturday in a landslide over a conservative opponent favored by the rightist regime.

Khatami, 54, former culture minister who built up broad support among women and young people of both genders, won almost three times as many votes as Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, the ruling faction's favorite, in balloting Friday that drew a record turnout of nearly 30 million people.

Khatami won 20.7 million votes cast, and Nateq-Nouri, 7.2 million, a ccording to the final results announced Saturday on state radio and television. Two other candidates won fewer than a million votes each. During the 12-day election campaign, Khatami attracted a broad coalition of centrists, left-wingers, and women, youths and intellectuals. And yet, he rode to victory in large part because of his black turban. Under the complex rules of Shiite Islam, only clerics who can prove that they are direct descendants of the prophet Mohammed may wear black turbans. At several polling places Friday, voters said Khatami's black turban was enough to resolve any doubts that he was not a sufficiently orthodox Muslim. While his win is unlikely to lead to any drastic changes in the country's Islamic fundamentalist bent, the result should serve to restrain the conservative faction within the clergy that has ruled the country since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Takes Over In August An array of restrictions ranging from bans on dating and satellite dishes to a strict public dress code for women helps the Shiite Muslim clergy assert their authority over Iran's 60 million people. Khatami will succeed President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who will step down in August after completing his second four-year term. Rafsanjani, too, was billed as a moderate when he took office. But he had little success easing restrictions at home or improving Iran's image abroad. …

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