Banisadr, Iran’s first president after 1979 revolution, dies

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TEHRAN, Iran — Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first president after the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution who fled Tehran after being impeached for challenging the growing power of clerics as the nation became a theocracy, died Saturday. He was 88.

Among a sea of black-robed Shiite clerics, Banisadr stood out for his Western-style suits and a background so French that it was in philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre that he confided his belief he’d be Iran’s first president some 15 years before it happened.

Those differences only isolated him as the nationalist sought to implement a socialist style economy in Iran underpinned by a deep Shiite faith instilled in him by his cleric father.

Banisadr would never consolidate his grip on the government he supposedly led as events far beyond his control — including the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis and the invasion of Iran by Iraq — only added to the tumult that followed the revolution.

True power remained firmly wielded by Supreme Leader

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