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The surprising rise of the head of Iran's most influential charity

Ebrahim Raisi, head of one of Iran’s wealthiest organizations, appears to be using his position to put himself in the national spotlight ahead of presidential elections.

When Ebrahim Raisi was appointed a year ago to lead Astan-e Quds Razavi, Iran’s wealthiest and most influential charitable organization, few would have predicted that it could have ramifications for the country's next presidential election, scheduled for 14 months later.

Before Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei selected Raisi to succeed Ayatollah Abbas Vaez Tabasi as head of Astan-e Quds Razavi, there had been little coverage of him by national news media outlets, despite his having a long history of working in the judiciary, dating back to the 1980s, including serving as attorney general (2014-16). Since his appointment, Raisi appears to have received a clerical promotion — with some media now referring to him as ayatollah rather than hojat al-Islam, a lower rank — and his every appearance or statement gets a featured spot in news agency reporting.

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