EMĀMĪ, JAMĀL, politician (b. Ḵoy, 1901, d. Paris 9 Nov., 1966). He was one of nine sons of the prominent religious dignitary and Majles deputy Mīrzā Yaḥyā Emām-e Jomʿa Ḵoʾī. He was educated in Tehran and Belgium, where, in the second half of the 1930s, he studied economics and finance and married a Belgian national. Upon his return to Persia, he was employed by the Ministry of Finance. In the post-1941 era Emāmī joined the ʿEdālat party, remaining a close lifelong friend of its leader, ʿAlī Daštī (qq.v.). Emāmī represented Ḵoy in the 14th Majles (1944-46); subsequently he was detained in 1946 as one of several pro-Western politicians on the order of the premier, Aḥmad Qawām (Qawām-al-Salṭana), whose aim was to conciliate the Soviet Union. In January 1947 Emāmī and a number of other political figures took sanctuary in the royal palace to protest Qawām’s manipulation of the elections for the 15th Majles —to no avail. As minister without portfolio (wazīr-e mošāwer), he served in the cabinets of ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Hažīr and Moḥammad Sāʿed before being elected as a Tehran deputy to the 16th Majles in 1949. In April 1951 he unexpectedly nominated his parliamentary colleague Moḥammad Moṣaddeq to assume the premiership, expecting that he would either refuse the offer or accept it, only to prove incapable of acting effectively and would thus be marginalized. As Moṣaddeq’s premiership persisted, Emāmī was to lead the vocal anti- Moṣaddeq parliamentary opposition, which consisted mainly of deputies who were in close contact with the British embassy (Azimi, pp. 257-87). He relentlessly castigated Moṣaddeq’s government for, inter alia, mismanaging the economy and failing to resolve the oil issue or to suppress communism. He tabled a motion to impeach the government but failed to do so. Emāmī was close to the royal court, Princess Ašraf, and General Fażl-Allāh Zāhedī, leader of the anti-Moṣaddeq coup in 1953 (see COUP d’ÉTAT OF 1332 Š. /1953). As a senator in the post-1953 era, he criticized successive governments and the conduct of the shah, which eventually led to his removal from the political scene and his appointment, in early 1960, as ambassador to Rome. In May 1963 he was recalled and replaced by Ḥasan Arsanjānī (q.v.), who was being similarly banished. Thereafter Emāmī held no official position. He died in Paris while undergoing surgery and was buried in Mašhad.

Emāmī was a skillful parliamentarian known for his virtually spontaneous and invariably blunt, often offensive, speeches, delivered with verve and in a strong Āzarī accent. Right wing in tendency, he strongly opposed neutralism in Persian foreign policy, fought pro-Moṣaddeq tendencies, and indefatigably advocated the suppression of communism. Emāmī had a vast network of political and social contacts and a large clientele, which included mob leaders from south Tehran.



A. Ārāmeš, Ḵāṭerāt-e sīāsī-e Aḥmad Ārāmeš, ed. Ḡ.-H.ṟ Mīrzā Ṣāleḥ, Tehran, 1369 Š./1990, pp. 36, 82, 125, 291, 302-3.

F. Azimi, Iran: The Crisis of Democracy, 1941-1953, London and New York, 1989, index.

F. Nabawī, ed., Noṭqhā-ye Jamāl Emāmī dar dowra-ye šānzdahom-e Majles-e šūrā-ye mellī, Tehran, 1332 Š./1953.

S. H.ṟ Taqīzāda, Zendagī-e ṭūfānī: Ḵāṭerāt-e Sayyed Ḥasan Ṭaqīzāda, ed. Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1358 Š./1979, pp. 292, 307, 317.

(Fakhreddin Azimi)

Originally Published: December 15, 1998

Last Updated: December 13, 2011

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Vol. VIII, Fasc. 4, pp. 392-393