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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: a meteoric rise to the top

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: a meteoric rise to the top

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rise to the Iranian presidency has been described as a remarkable feat for a politician who was hardly known just two years ago. His reputation spread quickly once he was installed as mayor of Tehran in 2003by the city’s rigidly conservative council. He rolled back many of the reforms introduced by his moderate predecessors, shutting down fast food restaurants, insisting on beards and long sleeves for city employees, and taking down a Western-style advertising campaign.

But he also earned respect as an able administrator and built on his image as a simple man of the people. The son of a blacksmith, Ahmadinejad joined an ultra-conservative student group that staged the capture of the US embassy in 1979. When Iraq invaded Iran, the future president served with the Revolutionary Guards and reportedly participated in special operations deep inside enemy territory. After the war he went into politics, becoming governor of two Iranian provinces.