The interviewer asked Alavi, a prominent cleric and politician, “Would you have accepted if Rouhani had offered you a position in another ministry?”
In response, Alavi said, “Actually, because of my previous work experience, such as serving three times as chairman of the Expediency Council and Internal Affairs Office, I thought that if Mr. Rouhani wanted to appoint me to a position I’d fit in at the Ministry of Interior. It was to my expectation, however, when Dr Rouhani called on me to work for his administration.
“I told him, ‘Dr. Rouhani, if we were supporting and campaigning for you, it’s because we sought to ensure that the affairs of the country would be in the hands of a wise individual such as yourself, and thankfully we achieved this result. I don’t have any expectations of you. I am a university head and Hawza lecturer [Hawza = Shia seminary of traditional Islamic higher learning]. But if you wish for my cooperation, even if you want me to work at the front desk in your office to answer phone calls, I’d be happy to do it. I will spare no effort in cooperating with you.’
“In response, he [Rouhani], said, ‘I would like to hand over control of the country’s Ministry of Intelligence to you.’ Then I said to him, ‘Dr. Rouhani, based on what sort of prior experience would you want me to work in this area? If you said you want me for the Ministry of Interior, I’m familiar with that. If you want me for the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, I’ve served for nine years as a “soldier” serving the greatness of the Supreme Leader, as well as being his representative in the Army. I’ve done cultural works since I was seven or eight years old when I began working in photography, producing videos and photos. When I was 14 years old I was working in painting and drawing; I was able to create canvas paintings, and became very skillful in mixing oil paints – if I wanted to make a new colour I was able to mix four different colors and produce a new colour.’”
The TV presenter then interjected to ask, “So you were a professional painter and artist?”
“Yes,” Alavi responded. “I was a professional painter”.He added, “After that, when I was 16 or 17 years old I became a theatre actor and was interested in playing comedy roles. Despite all of this, I told Dr. Rouhani, ‘If you want me for the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, well due my familiarity and experience in religious affairs I know what I’m capable of. Also if you wanted me as a parliamentary deputy, well since I was an MP for four terms I can communicate with members of parliament and manage the votes.’ But Dr. Rouhani said, ‘Well I know each of these positions. If you were appointed you’d be able to do them. But now for the Ministry of Intelligence I need people who are approved by the Supreme Leader and I have confidence in him, so I have chosen you, Mr. Alavi.’”
The cleric continued with his recollections, saying, “After that I still resisted his offer, and he said, ‘What are you worried about? If you ask God, He will help you. But if God tells you to accept, then I will give you my blessing.’ After this, Dr. Rouhani told me a sentence that transformed me – he said, ‘Alavi, you do not have belief; you are the son of Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Mohammed. So if you ask for help from your mother Fatima Zahra, would she let her son down?’ All of a sudden, this sentence revolutionized me. I felt choked and my eyes filled with tears. Then I told Dr. Rouhani, ‘Now you have mentioned my mother Fatima Zahra, I accept your offer and will start [the job].’ The first step I took after I got this vote of confidence, as I came out into the yard in front of the intelligence ministry, from the bottom of my soul I said, ‘Ya Zahra!’”