President of Iran, 1997-2005
Mohammad Khatami, the reformist President of Iran, 1997- 2005, is one of the pre-eminent world leaders of our time. Khatami swept into office in 1997, chosen by over 20 million Iranians, nearly 70 percent of the vote. It was a surprising, heart-lifting triumph. A political moderate, he fought for civil rights, tolerance, and freedom of expression; favored a free market economy and foreign investments; and established better relations with the West, where he enjoys unprecedented popularity. Today, with his Foundation for Dialogue Among Civilisations, Khatami speaks on the urgent need for dialogue between religions, among countries, and across generations. The world, as it always has, continues to listen.
Born in Ardakan-Yazd, Iran, Khatami graduated from the University of Tehran, and studied theology at Qom and Isfahan. In 1979, he became head of the Hamburg Islamic Center in Germany. In 1980, returning to Iran, he was elected to Parliament; he also ran Kayhan, Iran's leading newspaper, in 1981. From 1982 - 1992, he was elected the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance. In 1992, while serving as dean of the National Library of Iran, he was appointed advisor to the President. He was elected as President five years later and was re-elected in 2001; he served until 2005. Recently, Khatami initiated the idea of a "Dialogue Among Civilizations," which has been endorsed by world leaders and the United Nations.
Among Civilizations: An Evening With Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami
Mohammad Khatami is a towering figure whose place in history is assured. On stage, he speaks with grace, and great moral conviction, on the need for all of us, as citizens of the world, to find common ground. Highly respected by world leaders, who constantly invite him to participate in dialogue, Khatami can talk with great accuracy and insight about pressing international concerns. Most of all, he offers hope. Not blind hope borne of false optimism. But rather a thoughtful, pragmatic hope that will help us overcome the seemingly intractable tensions that divide many of us along political, religious, and societal lines. As one of the most audacious leaders of his generation, he instills in audiences a feeling that, far from the dour headlines, meaningful dialogue among the world's citizens is taking place. An evening with Khatami is an unforgettable experience, a chance to witness, firsthand, a world leader who has dedicated his life to inspiring others toward a just, tolerant, and civil society.