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Mohsen Kadivar is a leading intellectual in the Iranian reform movement. Born in 1959, he became politically active during the buildup to the 1979 Islamic Revolution and began pursuing a religious education, studying under Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri to earn a degree in ijtihad, permitting him to issue Islamic legal judgments. In 1999, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his dissent againt policies of the Islamic Republic. He is active in the Iranian reform movement and is now a visiting professor at Duke University, having also taught at the University of Virginia. He is a staunch advocate of the compatibility of Islam with democracy and human rights. In 2009, he was selected by the TED organization to be a member of the Council of Conscience, a group of spiritual leaders selected to draft the Charter for Compassion.