The man who wants to be the next president of Iran sits in a hotel lobby, steps from his office and thousands of miles away from the country he wants to lead, a distance surpassed only by the hurdles he needs to clear even to land on the ballot.
Hooshang Amirahmadi, a bespectacled professor of public policy at Rutgers University, declared his candidacy for the Iranian presidency last year. He’s now well into a quixotic quest that has taken him on fundraising jaunts from New York to California to Dubai and, finally, to Iran next month.
Amirahmadi, 65, has lived in the United States for 40 years, calling it “my country.” He married his wife here, and his daughter was raised in New Jersey. But he feels compelled to run for office in Iran to reconcile the conflict he and other Iranian-Americans feel within.
“I feel like, you know, it’s not easy to be an Iranian originally and be here, and be a citizen of this country, and see the two sides of you fight each other every day,” Amirahmadi said.