A stunning upset in the Iranian elections in May, 1997 ushered in a new moderate President, Mohammed Khatemi, and promises of reform and tolerance.
Winning in a landslide as a favorite of women and youth, Khatemi’s first move was to appoint a woman to the Iranian cabinet. A U.S.-educated professor, she was the first woman asked to join the cabinet since the 1979 revolution.
In August, Khatemi appointed a new Culture Minister who won a vote of confidence from the usually conservative parliament after defending tolerance and freedom as cornerstones of the constitution. In his post, the new Culture Minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, will be setting new standards that the press and artistic media (books, movies, music) must meet to be allowed into the Muslim society. “I disagree with almost all of the [recent] practices in the Culture Ministry,” he said.
Then in December, Khatemi called for “thoughtful dialogue with the American people…so we could get closer to peace, security, and tranquility.” And he declared his “respect for the great people of the United States”.