Dr. Hasan Rowhani is fluent in Arabic, English, French, German, Russian, as well as his native Persian. He has a master's and doctoral degree from the University of Glasgow. He once helped negotiate a suspension of Iran's nuclear enrichment program. He also supported public demonstrations that were staged after the rigged 2009 presidential election.
Now he is the president of Iran, the nation with perhaps the greatest ability to impact Israel and the West. Time calls his victory a "surprise landslide."
Yesterday, President Rowhani pledged to follow a "path of moderation" and promised greater openness regarding his country's nuclear program. He called his election a "new era" for Iran and vowed to "follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism." However, he also stated that he would not attempt to halt Iran's uranium enrichment, nor does he have the authority to do so.
Is the election of a "moderate" leader in Iran good news for Israel and the West? Before we make such an assumption, let's consider what's happening in Egypt. I remember when Mohammed Morsi, the former NASA engineer, was elected there as a "moderate." However, he soon seized legislative and constitution-writing authority, followed by a "constitutional declaration" that granted him unprecedented power.
Now he has appointed a governor of Luxor from an Islamist group that once killed 62 people there, most of them tourists. Luxor is home to the ancient temple of Karnak and is one of the most spectacular sites I've ever visited. On November 17, 1997, six terrorists killed a five-year-old child, four Japanese couples visiting there on their honeymoons, and 49 other tourists. Now a member of their group will govern the city and its tourism.
President Rowhani may turn out to be a force for moderation in Iran, leading reforms akin to those of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. He may be a wolf in sheep's clothing, trying to convince us that he is working for peace while his nation furthers its nuclear weapons programs. Or he may be something else. Israel's prime minister notes that Rowhani recently called Israel "the great Zionist Satan" and is urging caution, calling on the West to continue pressure on Iran until it stops its nuclear program.
I have no idea if Hasan Rowhani will be a force for greater good or greater evil in Iran and the world. But I have already prayed today for him to make Christ his Lord. As Jesus is revealing himself through dreams and visions across the Muslim world, would you join me in asking him to do the same for Dr. Rowhani?
Saul of Tarsus "persecuted the church of God" (1 Corinthians 15:9) before Jesus made him "my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel" (Acts 9:15). What could Jesus do with the president of Iran today?
Jim Denison, Ph.D., is a subject matter expert on cultural and contemporary issues. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a nonsectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth in 2009 and is the author of seven books, including Radical Islam: What You Need to Know. For more information on the Denison Forum, visit www.denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit www.twitter.com/jimdenison or www.facebook.com/denisonforum.
Publication date: June 18, 2013