Reports: Hassan Rouhani’s Son Killed Himself Over His Father’s Radicalism

Getty Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the UN in 2017. His son is reported to have shot himself to death in 1992 over his father's politics.

In 1992, the son of Hassan Rouhani reportedly committed suicide. That he died is certain. It’s been widely reported that his death was a suicide and decades after, a suicide note appeared and in it, the son blamed his father’s radicalism and hypocrisy and said having to lie to his friends sickened him. But there are other explanations for his death from sad to sinister.

Rouhani, an Iranian and Western-educated attorney and scholar, was a very close associate and confidante of the Ayatollah Khomeini and, ironically, in 1977 delivered the eulogy for Khomeini’s dead son, who also allegedly committed suicide, or was murdered. Rouhani has been integral to the Islamic revolution since its beginning and was with Khomeini in France. As part of the regime, Rouhani called for the silencing of pro-democracy student protesters whom he said should be crushed “mercilessly and monumentally,” it was reported five years ago.

hassan rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech in Tehran’s Azadi Square (Freedom Square) to mark the 36th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Rouhani was an early and key figure in Iran and was named to a number of high-level government posts. A prolific author and scholar on matters of Iranian national security, nuclear arms, its economy and Islamic political thought, he was appointed member of the Supreme National Security Council by Supreme Leader Khamenei in 1989. It was reported he “helped mastermind the 1994 bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people (including many elderly Holocaust survivors).”

Two years before that attack, Rouhani’s son shot himself with his father’s pistol. Iranian news reported the death and Iranian officials said he killed himself over “unrequited love.” There was also another more malevolent version offered; murder.

In June of 2013, three days after Hassan Rouhani was elected President of Iran, Israeli news website Ynetnews and others reported that Iranian Alireza Nourizadeh claimed that Rouhani’s son committed suicide.

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani and Hassan Khomeini. Days later, it would be reported Rouhani’s son killed himself and left a note blaming his father’s radicalism and close ties to Khomeini for his suicide.

It was reported he killed himself in protest of his father’s connection with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Proof of this letter was not available through a cursory online search, just the reports of the letter and its contents.

“I am ashamed to live in such environment where I’m forced to lie to my friends each day, telling them that my father isn’t part of all of this. Telling them my father loves this nation, whereas I believe this to be not true. It makes me sick seeing you, my father, kiss the hand of Khamenei.”

The suicide note was said to have been published originally by Nourizadeh in the London-based publication al-Sharq al-Awsat. Attempts to find that original publication of the letter online were unsuccessful but the alleged note was also discussed and a similar translation of the suicide letter published in Iran Edge. All the reports cite Nourizadeh, the exiled Iranian historian, writer, and former editor of a newspaper that supported Mohammed Reza Shah, the Shah of Iran who ruled from 1941 until his overthrow in 1979.

According to a report in the Iran Edge, Rouhani’s son did not commit suicide but was assassinated. In the same story, it’s said he shot himself to death.

It was reported Rouhani’s “son Hossein died 23 years ago. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a research scholar at Princeton University who was a member of the Iranian negotiating team at nuclear talks and became very familiar with Rouhani, who conducted them in one of the endless rounds of those talks, told TIME that Rouhani’s son, who was an aviation cadet, was assassinated on a military base in southern Tehran on political grounds.”

But Nourizadeh claims, however, that the son Hossein had committed suicide.

“I loathe your regime, your lies, your corruption, your religion, your hypocrisy and dissimulation. I am disgusted with having to live in such an environment and having to daily lie to my friend by claiming that my father is not cut from the same cloth as the regime elite and chieftains… and that in reality his heart is with the people, while I know the truth to be otherwise.”

The New York Post was one of a very few Western media to publish the story.

“The son’s name, his age and even the actual suicide date are missing from official reports on the incident. Some regime insiders explained away the suicide as a personal tragedy, blaming it on a love affair and ‘broken heart.’ Other widely circulated rumors claimed the mullahs had the son offed for expressing anti-regime sentiments,” the Post reported.

Rouhani was quoted as saying his son committed “a great sin” by killing himself which is in and of itself an admission. But Rouhani had his son Hossein buried in the temple of the Ayatollah Khomeini and if reports are true he killed himself because he hated Khomeini and his father’s role in the creation of the Islamic Republic, he would not have chosen to be buried in that spot, likely.

The suicide theory, note notwithstanding, could be supported by precedent and antecedent.

Mostafa, a son of Ayatollah Khomeini either killed himself in 1977 or was murdered by the Shah’s secret police while in exile with his father in Iraq.

In 2011, Alireza Pahlavi, son of Mohammed Reza Shah (the Shah of Iran) killed himself in his Boston home. He was 44. A decade before, his sister Leila Pahlavi also committed suicide.

Prince Alireza Pahlavi

GettyPeople attend a memorial service for Prince Alireza Pahlavi, the younger son of the late shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

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