Ali Khamenei

Ali Khamenei

Overview
Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the Supreme Leader of Iran
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 and the figurative head of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Twelver Shi'a marja
Marja
Marja , also known as a marja-i taqlid or marja dini , literally means "Source to Imitate/Follow" or "Religious Reference"...

. In 2010, Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

selected him 26th in the list of 'World's Most Powerful People'.

He was President of Iran
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 from 1981 to 1989, and has been Supreme Leader of Iran
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 since June 1989 when the Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

 appointed him to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

. He has been described as one of only three people having "important influence" on the Islamic Republic of Iran (the other two being the founder of the republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the president of Iran for much of the 1990s, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

).
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A senior official in an important American political center, said: "Instead of bombs, send them miniskirts." He is right.

Khamenei: The Iraqi people will hate any government established in Iraq that will be recognized as appointed by the Americans, just as the Americans are hated. The Americans' coming to Iraq was a mistake. Their staying was a mistake. Their behavior with the population was a mistake....They must know that certainly, the Islamic world and chiefly the Shiite world will not stay silent in face of this.

Encyclopedia
Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the Supreme Leader of Iran
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 and the figurative head of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Twelver Shi'a marja
Marja
Marja , also known as a marja-i taqlid or marja dini , literally means "Source to Imitate/Follow" or "Religious Reference"...

. In 2010, Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

selected him 26th in the list of 'World's Most Powerful People'.

He was President of Iran
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 from 1981 to 1989, and has been Supreme Leader of Iran
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 since June 1989 when the Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

 appointed him to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

. He has been described as one of only three people having "important influence" on the Islamic Republic of Iran (the other two being the founder of the republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and the president of Iran for much of the 1990s, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

). So far, the biggest challenge to his leadership has been the mass protests
2009 Iranian election protests
Protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election against the disputed victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and in support of opposition candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi occurred in major cities in Iran and around the world starting June 13, 2009...

 following the June 2009 presidential elections
Iranian presidential election, 2009
Iran's tenth presidential election was held on 12 June 2009, with incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad running against three challengers. The next morning the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced that with two-thirds of the votes counted, Ahmadinejad had won the election...

. Khamenei, however, continued to strongly support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies and re-election.
Khamenei was the victim of an attack aimed to assassinate him in June 1981 that paralyzed his right arm.

Early life


The origin of Ali Khamenei family is from Tafresh
Tafresh
Tafresh is a city in and the capital of Tafresh County, Markazi Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 13,914, in 4,254 families.Tafresh is located amidst high mountains southwest of Tehran...

 in today's Markazi province
Markazi Province
Markazi Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. The word markazi means central in Persian. Markazi lies in western Iran. Its capital is Arak. Its population is estimated at 1.35 million...

. The ancestors of Ali Khamenei had migrated from their original home in Tafresh
Tafresh
Tafresh is a city in and the capital of Tafresh County, Markazi Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 13,914, in 4,254 families.Tafresh is located amidst high mountains southwest of Tehran...

 to Tabriz.Born in Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

, He is second eldest of eight children, and two of his brothers are also clerics. His younger brother, Hadi Khamenei
Hadi Khamenei
Hojatoleslam Hadi Khamenei is an influential Iranian reformist politician, mojtahed and linguist. He is a key member of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics, and a former deputy of the Majlis of Iran representing a district in Tehran....

, is a renowned newspaper editor and cleric. Ali Khamenei is half Iranian Azeri and his mother is a Yazd
Yazd
Yazd is the capital of Yazd Province in Iran, and a centre of Zoroastrian culture. The city is located some 175 miles southeast of Isfahan. At the 2006 census, the population was 423,006, in 114,716 families....

-native Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 

He attended religious studies classes at the rudimentary and advanced levels in the hawza
Hawza
Hawza or ḥawza ʻilmiyya is a seminary of traditional Islamic school of higher learning. It is a term used mostly by the Shi'a Muslims communities to refer to a traditional Shi'a centre where clerics are trained...

of Mashhad, under his mentors such as Haj Sheikh Hashem Qazvini, and Ayatollah Milani, and then went to Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

 in 1957. After a short stay he left Najaf
Najaf
Najaf is a city in Iraq about 160 km south of Baghdad. Its estimated population in 2008 is 560,000 people. It is the capital of Najaf Governorate...

 to Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

, and in 1958 he settled in Qom
Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....

. Khamenei attended the classes of Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

s Husain Borujerdi and Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

. Later, he was involved in the Islamic activities of 1963 which led to his arrest in the city of Birjand
Birjand
Birjand is the east Iranian provincial capital of South Khorasan and the centre of the county Birjand resp. Quhestan, known for its saffron, barberry, rug and handmade carpet exports....

, in Southern Khorasan Province. Shortly thereafter, he was released and resumed teaching in Mashhad's religious schools and mosques, teaching the Nahj al-Balagheh.

Literary scholarship


Khamenei is fluent in both Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Arabic. He has translated several books into Persian from Arabic, including the works of the famous Egyptian Islamist theoretician Sayyid Qutb
Sayyid Qutb
Sayyid Qutb was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamist theorist, poet, and the leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and '60s....

. He is a less fluent speaker of the Azerbaijani language
Azerbaijani language
Azerbaijani or Azeri or Torki is a language belonging to the Turkic language family, spoken in southwestern Asia by the Azerbaijani people, primarily in Azerbaijan and northwestern Iran...

, his father's native language and has some understanding of English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

.

In his analysis of the Persian poetry of Allameh Muhammad Iqbal
Muhammad Iqbal
Sir Muhammad Iqbal , commonly referred to as Allama Iqbal , was a poet and philosopher born in Sialkot, then in the Punjab Province of British India, now in Pakistan...

, he states that "Iqbal was not acquainted with Persian idiom, as he spoke Urdu
Urdu
Urdu is a register of the Hindustani language that is identified with Muslims in South Asia. It belongs to the Indo-European family. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. It is also widely spoken in some regions of India, where it is one of the 22 scheduled languages and an...

 at home and talked to his friends in Urdu or English. He did not know the rules of Persian prose writing." Nevertheless, he admires Iqbal.

Like many other politically active clerics at the time, Khamenei was far more involved with politics than religious scholarship.

Political life and presidency



Khamenei was a key figure in the Islamic revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in Iran and a close confidant of Ayatollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

.

Khomeini appointed Khamenei to the post of Tehran's Friday prayers in 1989, after forced resignation of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri Najafabadi was a prominent Iranian scholar, Islamic theologian, Shiite Islamic democracy advocate, writer and human rights activist. He was one of the leaders of the Iranian Revolution in 1979...

 from the post, when he criticised Khomeini for torture of prisoners. He served briefly as the Deputy Minister for Defence and as a supervisor of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. He also went to the battlefield as a representative of the defense commission of the parliament. In June 1981, Khamenei narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a bomb, concealed in a tape recorder at a press conference, exploded beside him. He was permanently injured, losing the use of his right arm.
Candidate Votes %
Ali Khamenei 16,003,242 95.02%
Ali Akbar Parvaresh 342,600 2.03%
Hasan Ghafourifard 78,559 0.47%
Reza Zavare'i 62,133 0.37%
Blank or invalid votes 356,266 2.12%
Total 16,841,800

In 1981, after the assassination of Mohammad-Ali Rajai, Khamenei was elected President of Iran
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 by a landslide vote in the Iranian presidential election, October 1981
Iranian presidential election, October 1981
The Iranian presidential election of October 1981, took place on October 2, 1981, after the assassination of Mohammad Ali Rajai, the previous President of Iran, during the interim prime ministership of Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani...

 and became the first cleric to serve in the office. Ayatollah Khomeini had originally wanted to keep clerics out of the presidency but later changed his views.
In his presidential inaugural address Seyd Ali Khamenei vowed to eliminate "deviation, liberalism, and American-influenced leftists". Vigorous opposition to the regime, including nonviolent and violent protest, assassinations, guerrilla activity and insurrections, was answered by state repression and terror in the early 1980s, both before and during Khamenei's presidency. Thousands of rank-and-file members of insurgent groups were killed, often by revolutionary courts. By 1982, the government announced that the courts would be reined in, although various political groups continued to be repressed by the government in the first half of the 1980s.


Khamenei helped guide the country during the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s, and developed close ties with the now-powerful Revolutionary Guards. As president, he had a reputation of being deeply interested in the military, budget and administrative details. After the Iraqi army
Iraqi Army
The Iraqi Army is the land component of the Iraqi military, active in various forms since being formed by the British during their mandate over the country after World War I....

 was expelled from Iran in 1982, Khamenei became one of the main opponents of Khomeini's decision to counter-invade into Iraq, an opinion Khamenei shared with Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Iran
Prime Minister of Iran was a political post in Iran that had existed during several different periods of time starting with the Qajar era until its most recent revival from 1979 to 1989 following the Iranian Revolution.-Prime Ministers of Qajar era:In the Qajar era, prime ministers were known by...

 Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh is an Iranian reformist politician, artist and architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was a Reformist candidate for the 2009 presidential election and eventually the leader of the opposition in the post-election...

, with whom he would later conflict during the 2009 Iranian election protests
2009 Iranian election protests
Protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election against the disputed victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and in support of opposition candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi occurred in major cities in Iran and around the world starting June 13, 2009...

.

He was re-elected to a second term in 1985, capturing 85.66% of total votes.

Supreme Leader (Velāyat-e faqih)


Seyyed Ali Khamene'i succeeded Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution, after Khomeini's death, being elected as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

 on June 4, 1989. Initially, a council of three members, Ali Meshkini
Ali Meshkini
Ayatollah Ali Akbar Feyz Meshkini was an Iranian hardline cleric and politician.-Life:Meshkini was an Iranian Azerbaijani born in a village near Meshkinshahr and the Sabalan mountain. He was born as Āli, but preferred the pronounciaton, Ali during his career. He succeeded Ayatollah Montazeri as...

, Mousavi Ardabili and Khamenei, was proposed for Leadership. After the assembly rejected the idea of a Leadership Council, and Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Golpaygani
Mohammad Reza Golpaygani
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Golpaygani was a Twelver Shia Muslim cleric and marja. he was born in Gogad village, near the city of Golpaygan, Iran. He was taught preliminary studies by his father, Mohammad Bagher. At the age of 9, his father died, and he moved to Golpaygan to continue his...

 failed to get enough votes, Khamenei was elected the Supreme Leader by two thirds of the votes.

The concept that the ruler of the land should be an Islamic jurist serving as "guardian" (Vali faqih ولی فقیه in Persian), was developed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 in a lecture series made book. In this kind of theocratic "guardianship" leadership (Velayat-e Faqih, ولایت فقیه ), no political decision is lawful until it is approved by the guardian jurist who is called Supreme Leader (رهبر Rahbar in Persian) by the Iranian constitution. Even the taking of office by the democratically elected president is subject to the approval of the Supreme Leader.

Khamenei's approach to leadership


Khamenei's era as supreme leader has differed from that of his predecessor Khomeini. He has continued Khomeini's policy of "balancing one group against another, making sure that no single side gains too much power." But lacking Khomeini's charisma and clerical standing, he has developed networks, first inside the armed forces, and then among the clerics administering the major religious foundations (or bonyad
Bonyad
Bonyads are charitable trusts in Iran that play a significant role in Iran's non-petroleum economy, controlling an estimated 20% of Iran's GDP. Exempt from taxes, they have been called "bloated", and "a major weakness of Iran’s economy", and criticized for reaping "huge subsidies from government",...

s), and seminaries of Qom and Mashhad. According to Vali Nasr
Vali Nasr
Vali Nasr is a leading expert on Middle East and Islamic world, a best-selling author, influential commentator and Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings Institution, and a columnist for...

, he has brought many of the powers of the presidency with him into the office, turning it into an "omnipotent overseer of Iran's political scene". Officials under Khamenei influence the country's various powerful, and sometimes bickering, institutions, including "the parliament, the presidency, the judiciary, the Revolutionary Guards, the military, the intelligence services, the police agencies, the clerical elite, the Friday prayer leaders and much of the media", as well as various "nongovernmental foundations, organizations, councils, seminaries and business groups". Under him, the government is said to resemble "a clerical oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

 more than an autocracy
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

."

To maintain "the image of the Supreme Leader as 'guide', rather than executive", Khamenei stays aloof from day-to-day politics. He gives no press conferences or interviews, and, as noted in Hooman Majd's book: Khamenei did travel outside Iran before he became Supreme Leader.

Despite this policy, as leader, Khamenei reserves the right to "inject himself into the process and 'correct' a flawed policy or decision."

In his speeches Khamenei regularly mentions many familiar themes of the 1979 revolution: justice, independence, self-sufficiency, fundamentalist Islamic government and resolute opposition to Israel and United States, while rarely mentioning other revolutionary ideals such as democracy and greater government transparency. Dealing with the presidents who have served during his reign, Khamenei has successfully scuttled President Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

's attempts to find a modus vivendi
Modus vivendi
Modus vivendi is a Latin phrase signifying an agreement between those whose opinions differ, such that they agree to disagree.Modus means mode, way. Vivendi means of living. Together, way of living, implies an accommodation between disputing parties to allow life to go on. It usually describes...

 with the United States, President Khatami
Mohammad Khatami
Sayyid Mohammad Khātamī is an Iranian scholar, philosopher, Shiite theologian and Reformist politician. He served as the fifth President of Iran from August 2, 1997 to August 3, 2005. He also served as Iran's Minister of Culture in both the 1980s and 1990s...

's aspirations for a more democratic Islamic state, and President Ahmadinejad's desire for confrontation.

Appointment as Supreme Leader & disputed title of "Grand Ayatollah"


This title has been widely criticised by Muslim scholars who do not recognise Khamenei as an Ayatollah-Ozma or Marja
Marja
Marja , also known as a marja-i taqlid or marja dini , literally means "Source to Imitate/Follow" or "Religious Reference"...

-e-Taqlid.

At the time of Khomeini's death Khamenei was not a marja
Marja
Marja , also known as a marja-i taqlid or marja dini , literally means "Source to Imitate/Follow" or "Religious Reference"...

or even an ayatollah, and the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran
Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was adopted by referendum on October 24, 1979, and went into force on December 3 of that year, replacing the Constitution of 1906. It was amended on July 28, 1989. The constitution has been called a "hybrid" of "authoritarian, theocratic and...

 required the Supreme Leader to be a marja. However, Ayatollah Khomeini had not been satisfied with the field of candidates to replace him and in April 1989, three months before his death, assigned a team to revise the constitution so that the Supreme Leader of Iran
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 need only be an expert on Islamic jurisprudence and possess the "appropriate political and managerial skills". This new amendment to the constitution had not been put to a referendum yet, so upon choosing Khamenei the Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

 internally titled him a temporary office holder until the new constitution became effective. The choice of Khamenei is said to be a political one, but the "political elite" of the Islamic Republic "rallied behind Khamenei" and his status was "elevated overnight" from Hojjat ol-Islam to Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

.
His status as marja is controversial. In 1994, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Araki
Mohammad Ali Araki
Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Araki Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Araki Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Araki (1889 in Arak – November 24, 1994 in Qom was an Iranian Twelver Shi'a Marja.Ayatullah Araki began his Hawza studies in Arak, and was the student of many prominent scholars during this time,...

, the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom
Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom
Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom , was founded 1961 by the leading Shi'a clerics of Qom to organize religious teachings in the seminaries, and expand the religious teachings in Iran...

 declared Khamenei a new marja. However, four of Iran's dissident grand ayatollahs declined to recognize Khamenei as a marja. Nevertheless, according to narjes.org a cleric only needs acceptance of a few grand ayatollahs to be recognized as marja. Khamenei refused the offer of marja'iyat for Iran, as he explained, due to other heavy responsibilities, but agreed to be the marja for the Shi'as outside of Iran. His acceptance of marja'iyat for Shi'as outside Iran does not have traditional precedence in Shi'ism. Marja'iyat can be, and in modern times it increasingly is, transitional.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Shirazi, who was under house-arrest at the time for his opposition to Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

, did not accept Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a marja. According to "Human Rights in Iran" (2001) by Pace University
Pace University
Pace University is an American private, co-educational, and comprehensive multi-campus university in the New York metropolitan area with campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York.-Programs:...

's Reza Afshari, Shirazi was "indignant" over recognition of Khamenei as the Supreme Leader and a marja. Shirazi (who died in late 2001) apparently favored a committee of Grand Ayatollahs to lead the country.

Other marjas who questioned the legitimacy of Khamenei's marja'yat were dissident clerics: Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri Najafabadi was a prominent Iranian scholar, Islamic theologian, Shiite Islamic democracy advocate, writer and human rights activist. He was one of the leaders of the Iranian Revolution in 1979...

, Grand Ayatollah Hassan Tabatabai-Qomi and Grand Ayatollah Yasubedin Rastegar Jooybari. In 1997 the more senior Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri Najafabadi was a prominent Iranian scholar, Islamic theologian, Shiite Islamic democracy advocate, writer and human rights activist. He was one of the leaders of the Iranian Revolution in 1979...

, "questioned the powers of the Supreme Leader" and was punished with the closure of his religious school, an attack on his office in Qom" and a period of house arrest.

Fatwas


As a Grand Ayatollah (disputed or not), Khamenei has issued thousands of fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

s in answer to questions from Shi'a petitioners, "on everything from Islamic law to betting on basketball, student loans to children in day care with non-Muslims, women on motorcycles to staying in hotels used by Buddhists". He has ruled against the wearing of neckties and the listening to music and news from foreign sources, but not nose piercing (as long as adornments are covered).

In 2010, Imam Khamenei issued a fatwa which bans any insult to the companions of Muhammad as well as his wives. This fatwa is a great effort to make a peace between two largest sects in Islam : Sunni and Shia.

Fatwa against nuclear weapons



Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 saying the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s was forbidden under Islam. The fatwa was cited in an official statement by the Iranian government at an August 2005 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA) in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

.

Iran's nuclear program has been a subject of international debate for decades. The Iranian government claims the purpose of its nuclear development is to produce electricity, while some western countries accuse it of trying to create nuclear weapons.

Relationship with the press


In 2000 he was listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists
Committee to Protect Journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent nonprofit organisation based in New York City that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists.-History:A group of U.S...

 as "one of the top ten enemies of the press and freedom of expression", and was named to the Time 100
Time 100
Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. First published in 1999 as a result of a debate among several academics, the list has become an annual event.-History and format:...

 in 2007. Opposition journalists Ahmad Zeidabadi
Ahmad Zeidabadi
Ahmad Zeidabadi is an Iranian journalist, academic, writer and political analyst and the secretary general of Office for Strengthening Unity. He is one of the notable figures of the Iranian reform movement....

, Mohsen Sazegara
Mohsen Sazegara
Mohsen Sazegara is an Iranian journalist and pro-democracy political activist. Dr. Sazegara held several high ranking positions in the Government of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, such as deputy prime minister, minister of industry, deputy chairman of the budget and planning department, and many more before...

, Mohammad Nourizad
Mohammad Nourizad
Mohammad Nourizad, born 10 December 1952 in Shahriar County is an Iranian filmmaker, activist, and former journalist for the conservative daily Kayhan...

 and Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji is an Iranian journalist and writer. He has been described as "Iran’s preeminent political dissident", and a "wildly popular pro-democracy journalist" who has crossed press censorship "red lines" regularly...

 were arrested and investigated for spreading critical articles containing unproven charges against Khamenei's policies as the supreme leader and some organizations. According to the Iran's Press Law "spreading rumors and lies and distorts the words of others" is not allowed. Also, according to the law, "spreading libel against officials, institutions, organizations and individuals in the country or insulting legal or real persons who are lawfully respected, even by means of pictures or caricatures" is not allowed.

Among his controversial actions were his rejection of a bill presented by the Iranian parliament in 2000 that aimed to reform the country's press law, and the disqualification of thousands of parliamentary candidates for the 2004 Iranian legislative election by the Guardian Council
Guardian Council
The Guardian Council of the Constitution , also known as the Guardian Council or Council of Guardians, is an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 he appointed.

Political power following reform era


According to Karim Sadjadpour of the American Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, several factors have strengthened Khamenei in recent years:
(1) A vast network of commissar
Commissar
Commissar is the English transliteration of an official title used in Russia from the time of Peter the Great.The title was used during the Provisional Government for regional heads of administration, but it is mostly associated with a number of Cheka and military functions in Bolshevik and Soviet...

s stationed in strategic posts throughout government bureaucracies, dedicated to enforcing his authority; (2) the weak, conservative-dominated parliament, headed by Khamenei loyalist Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel (whose daughter is married to the Leader's son); (3) the rapidly rising political and economic influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, whose top leaders are directly appointed by Khamenei and have always been publicly deferential to him; (4) the political disengagement of Iran's young population ....; and (5) most significant[ly], the 2005 presidential election, which saw hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trounce Khamenei's chief rival ... Hashemi Rafsanjani ...

Challenges following 2009 election protest


In mid August 2009 a group of unnamed former reformist lawmakers appealed to the Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

 — the constitutional body charged with electing and (in theory) supervising and removing the Supreme Leader — to investigate Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's qualification to rule. A week later another anonymous letter was issued "calling Iran’s supreme leader a dictator and demanding his removal," this one by a group of Iranian clerics. The letters were called a blow to Khamenei's "status as a neutral arbiter and Islamic figurehead" and an "unprecedented challenge to the country's most powerful man" though not a blow to his actual power as leader. The New York Times reports "the phrase `death to Khamenei` has begun appearing in graffiti on Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 walls, a phrase that would have been almost unimaginable not long ago."

The letter was addressed to the head of the Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

, a "powerful former president" who also questions the election results. According to the Associate Press it is unlikely the letter's demands would be met as "two-thirds of the 86-member assembly are considered strong loyalists of Khamenei and would oppose" any investigation of him.

According to The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 an 11-page anonymous letter by a group of Iranian clerics was issued August 15 "calling Iran’s supreme leader a dictator and demanding his removal."

According to the New York Times, a "prominent Iranian cleric and a former lawmaker said on Sunday that they had spoken to some of the authors and had no doubt the letter was genuine." According to this cleric the letter's signatories number "several dozen, and are mostly midranking figures from Qum, Isfahan and Mashhad," and that a “the pressure on clerics in Qum is much worse than the pressure on activists because the establishment is afraid that if they say anything they can turn the more traditional sectors of society against the regime,” "

Domestic policy


Khamenei is regarded by some as the figurehead of the country's conservative establishment. He is the commander in chief of all armed forces and appoints the head of judiciary system and national radio and television.

Khamenei supported Mesbah Yazdi describing him as one of Iran's most credible ideologues prior to the 2005 election, but has reportedly "recently been concerned about Mesbah's political ambitions." Mesbah is a critic of reform movement in Iran and is seen as President Ahmadinejad's spiritual guide.

In 2007, Khamenei requested that government officials speed up Iran's move towards economic privatization
Privatization in Iran
According to the Fourth Five-Year Economic Development Plan , the Privatization Organization of Iran affiliated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance is in charge of setting prices and ceding shares to the general public and on the Tehran Stock Exchange...

. Its last move towards such a goal was in 2004, when Article 44 of the constitution was overturned. Article 44 had decreed that Iran's core infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 should remain state-run. Khamenei also suggested that ownership rights should be protected in courts set up by the Justice Ministry; the hope was that this new protection would give a measure of security to and encourage private investment.

Additionally, Khamenei has stated that he believes in the importance of nuclear technology for civilian purposes because "oil and gas reserves cannot last forever."

On April 30, 2008, Ali Khamenei backed President Ahmadinejad’s economic policy and said the West was struggling with more economic difficulties than Iran, with a "crisis" spreading from the United States to Europe, and inflation was a widespread problem. The Iranian leader said that the ongoing economic crisis which has crippled the world has been unprecedented in the past 60 years. “This crisis has forced the UN to declare state of emergency for food shortages around the globe but foreign radios have focused on Iran to imply that the current price hikes and inflation in the country are the results of carelessness on the part of Iranian officials which of course is not true”, he said. Khamenei emphasized that no one has the right to blame the Iranian government for Iran’s economic problems. He also advised people and the government to be content and avoid waste in order to solve economic problems. “I advise you to keep in your mind that this great nation is never afraid of economic sanctions”, he added.

In 2001 a dispute broke out between "hard-line conservative" allies of Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad and his Chief of Staff, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaiee, were accused by supporters of Khamenei of leading a "deviant current" against the pillars of the Islamic Republic. However in a 3 June 2011 speech, Khamenei called for unity among the ruling conservatives, stating that the administration of Ahmadinejad "has been able to accomplish many great tasks."

Islamization of universities


In a speech given in 2002 Khamenei stressed that he was not satisfied with the performance of then minister of science and higher education Mostafa Moeen
Mostafa Moeen
Mostafa Moeen, M.D. , is an Iranian politician and professor of Pediatrics, and an advisor to the former President Mohammad Khatami. He was a presidential candidate for the 2005 Iranian presidential election...

, since he had allowed students to pursue activities deemed against Islam in his point of view, such as practicing and studying music, arts, traveling abroad to the land of non-believers, and conducting field trips that were not religious in nature. In the speech Khamenei asks for stricter control on these issues urging the universities to enforce Islamic values.

Science and technology


Ali Khamenei has been supportive of scientific progress in Iran. He was among the first Islamic clerics to allow stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. In 2004, Khamenei said that the country's progress is dependent on investment in the field of science and technology. He also said that attaching a high status to scholars and scientists in society would help talents to flourish and science and technology to become domesticated, thus ensuring the country's progress and development.

Minorities


Khamenei’s regime has been characterized by a number of measures that evidenced lack of tolerance towards other minority groups. A memorandum from 1991 signed by Ali Khamenei, states that the Bahá’í community, Iran’s largest religious minority, should be dealt with in such a way “that their progress and development are blocked”, and stipulates that Bahá’ís be denied livelihoods and university education. A number of persecutions
Persecution of Bahá'ís
The persecution of Bahá'ís is the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, where the Bahá'í Faith originated and the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world...

, such as the barring Bahá’ís from higher education and the arrest of the country’s Bahá’í leaders, caused international outcry and condemnatory rhetoric from several high-ranking individuals and organizations.

His attitude towards the Sunni has also caused dissension. Khamenei is reported to oppose the building of a Sunni mosque in Iran's capital, Tehran. According to a Tehran resident quoted by the Asia Times
Asia Times
Asia Times was a newspaper launched in Thailand by Thai tycoon Sondhi Limthongkul in 1995. The newspaper hired talent from around the world to produce a regional English-language newspaper....

 newspaper, reformist former president Mohammad Khatami
Mohammad Khatami
Sayyid Mohammad Khātamī is an Iranian scholar, philosopher, Shiite theologian and Reformist politician. He served as the fifth President of Iran from August 2, 1997 to August 3, 2005. He also served as Iran's Minister of Culture in both the 1980s and 1990s...

 stated that Khamenei's opposition was the reason he had not followed through on his campaign promise to allow the building of a Sunni mosque in Tehran. Khamenei kept quiet after Caspian Airlines Flight 7908
Caspian Airlines Flight 7908
Caspian Airlines Flight 7908 was a scheduled commercial flight from Tehran, Iran, to Yerevan, Armenia, that crashed near the village of Jannatabad, outside the city of Qazvin in north-western Iran, on 15 July 2009...

 incident that led to 168 deaths. No national mourning was announced and that generated anger among Iranian Christian/Armenian community and other Iranians. This is in contrast to incidents like the death of Iraqi cleric Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, where Khamenei sent a message and a three day national mourning was announced.

Starting in October of 2009 Youcef Nadarkhani a 34 Year-Old Christian Pastor who converted from Islam is now facing problems with the Iranian he is accused of apostasy.

Nadarkhani came under the regime’s radar in 2006 when he applied for his church to be registered with the state. According to sources, he was arrested at that time and then soon released.

In 2009, Nadarkhani went to local officials to complain about Islamic indoctrination in his school district, arguing that his children should not be forced to learn about Islam.

He was subsequently arrested and has been held since.

Although denieing that the charge against Nadarkhani was apostasy, or leaving Islam, and instead alleged that he was being held for rape and extortion.

Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 and was tried and found guilty of apostasy by a lower court in Gilan, a province in Rasht. He was then given verbal notification of an impending death-by-hanging sentence.

In December, his lawyers appealed the decision, and the case was sent to Iran’s Supreme Court, which by June stated that it upheld the lower court’s decision of execution, provided it could be proven that he had been a practicing Muslim from the age of adulthood, 15 in Islamic law, to age 19, the time when he converted.
In September, the lower court ruled that Nadarkhani had not practiced Islam during his adult life but still upheld the apostasy charge because he was born into a Muslim family. The court then gave Nadarkhani the opportunity to recant, as the law requires a man to be given three chances to recant his beliefs and return to Islam.

Nadarkhani refused.

A letter on behalf of the judiciary was sent to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the nation’s highest authority in interpreting Shariah Law, asking him to make the final decision.

It is unusual for the Supreme Leader be asked to weigh in on a case, but officials said this case is rare in nature and requires Khamenei’s stamp of approval in order to issue an execution.

Apostasy is punishable by death in Shariah law. Article 225 of the Iranian penal code states, "Punishment for an Innate Apostate is death," and "Punishment for a Parental Apostate is death.”

Under this law, a Muslim who converts to Christian is called a mortad, meaning one who leaves Islam. If the convert attempts to convert others, he is called a mortad harbi, or a convert who is waging war against Islam. Death sentences for such individuals are prescribed both by fatwas, or legal decrees, and reinforced by Iran’s penal code.

All religious minorities in Iran, including Bahais, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians, have faced various forms of persecution and political and social marginalization throughout the regime’s 30-year reign. But the government saves its harshest retribution for those who have abandoned Islam.

As of 5 November 2011 no decision as been made by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as to upholding the lower courts decision to sentence him to death by hanging or commute his sentence to prison time but before death is imposed it must be appoved by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

National Radio and Television



Khamenei directly appoints the head of IRIB and the organization works under his responsibility. The state controls most radio and television news outlets, and it is often these pro-government voices that disseminate the official hard-line rhetoric. Many people complain of propaganda in state-controlled media.

Interpretation of Islamic law


As "Vali faqih", or Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 ruling stating that the decisions of the Vali faqih "in all the matters that concerns Muslims and Islam," are "the will and decision of the whole nation."

In 2000, Ali Khamenei sent a letter to the Iranian parliament forbidding the legislature from debating a revision of the Iranian press law. He wrote: "The present press law has succeeded to a point in preventing this big plague. The draft bill is not legitimate and in the interests of the system and the revolution." His use of "extra-legislative power" has been criticized widely by reformists and opposition groups. In reaction to the letter, some Parliament members voiced outrage and threatened to resign. Kayhan and Jomhuri-ye Eslami are two newspapers published under the management of Khamenei.

In late 1996, following a fatwa by Khamenei stating that music education corrupts the minds of young children, many music schools were closed and music instruction to children under the age of 16 was banned by public establishments (although private instruction continued). Khamenei stated, "The promotion of music [both traditional and Western] in schools is contrary to the goals and teachings of Islam, regardless of age and level of study."

In 1999, Khamenei issued a fatwa stating that it was permitted to use a third-party (donor sperm, ova or surrogacy) in fertility treatments. This was in clear opposition to the fatwa on ART
Assisted reproductive technology
Assisted reproductive technology is a general term referring to methods used to achieve pregnancy by artificial or partially artificial means. It is reproductive technology used primarily in infertility treatments. Some forms of ART are also used in fertile couples for genetic reasons...

 by Gad El-Hak Ali Gad El-Hak of Egypt's Al-Azhar University in the late 1980s which permitted ART (IVF and similar technologies) as long there is no third-party donation (of sperm, eggs, embryos, or uteruses). This led to an upswing of fertility tourism
Fertility tourism
Fertility tourism or reproductive tourism is the practice of traveling to another country for fertility treatments. It may be regarded as a form of medical tourism. The main reasons for fertility tourism are legal regulation of the sought procedure in the home country, or lower price...

 in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

.

In 2002, he ruled that human stem cell research was permissible under Islam, with the condition that it be used to create only parts as opposed to a whole human.

In 2002 Khamenei intervened against the death sentence given to Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari
Hashem Aghajari also Seyyed Hashem Aghajari is an Iranian historian, university professor and a critic of the Islamic Republic's government who was sentenced to death in 2002 for apostasy for a speech he gave on Islam urging Iranians to "not blindly follow" Islamic clerics...

 for arguing that Muslims should re-interpret Islam rather than blindly follow leaders. Khamenei ordered a review of the sentence against Aghajari and it was later commuted to a prison sentence.

In July 2007, Khamenei criticized Iranian women's rights activists and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): "In our country ... some activist women, and some men, have been trying to play with Islamic rules in order to match international conventions related to women," Khamenei said. "This is wrong." Khamenei made these comments two days after Iranian women's rights activist Delaram Ali
Delaram Ali
Delaram Ali is a leading Iranian women's rights activist.In July 2007, she was charged with "participation in an illegal gathering", "propaganda against the system," and "disturbing the public order". Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced her to 39 months of jail and 10 lashes...

 was sentenced to 34 months of jail and 10 lashes by Iran's judiciary. Iran's judiciary works under the auspices of the supreme leader and is independent from the government.

With regard to women's dress, Khamenei believes in the need for compulsory hijab.

Khamenei claims that "Today, homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 is a major problem in the western world. They [western nations] however ignore it. But the reality is that homosexuality has become a serious challenge, pain and unsolvable problem for the intellectuals in the west."

In 2007, Iranian police under the direction of Khamenei launched a "Public Security Plan", arresting dozens of "thugs" to increase public security. The arrested "thugs" are sometimes beaten on camera in front of neighborhood inhabitants, or forced to wear hanging watering cans used for lavatory ablutions around their necks. During the first three months of the campaign, 62,785 women were stopped by police in Tehran for not strictly adhering to Islamic dress code. Of these, 1,837 were arrested.

Elections


As Supreme Leader, Khamenei has influence over elections in his appointment of half of the members of the Council of Guardians, who approve or disqualify candidates for office.
In February 2004 the Council of Guardians, disqualified thousands of candidates, including 80 incumbents (including the deputy speaker), many of the reformist members of the parliament, and all the candidates of the Islamic Iran Participation Front
Islamic Iran Participation Front
The Islamic Iran Participation Front is a reformist political party in Iran...

 party from running in the 2004 parliamentary elections. It did not allow to run in the election. The conservatives won about 70% of the seats. The parliamentary election held on February 20, 2004 in Iran was a key turning point in that country's political evolution. The election marked the conclusive end of the campaign for political and social reform initiated by Mohammad Khatami
Mohammad Khatami
Sayyid Mohammad Khātamī is an Iranian scholar, philosopher, Shiite theologian and Reformist politician. He served as the fifth President of Iran from August 2, 1997 to August 3, 2005. He also served as Iran's Minister of Culture in both the 1980s and 1990s...

 after he was elected president in a landslide vote in May 1997.

During the 2005 presidential election, Khamenei's comments about importance of fighting corruption, being faithful to the ideals of the Islamic revolution, as well as on the superior intelligence and dynamism of those who studied engineering, were interpreted by some as a subtle endorsement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who had a Ph.D. in traffic engineering). After the election, and until recently Khamenei, was outspoken in his support for Ahmadinejad, and "defended him publicly in ways which he never" had reformist president Khatami. Khamenei would later certify the results of the 2009 Iranian Presidential election.

Khamenei has taken a firm stand against what has been described as "greatest domestic challenge in 30 years" to the leadership of the Islamic Republic — the 2009 Iranian election protests
2009 Iranian election protests
Protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election against the disputed victory of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and in support of opposition candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi occurred in major cities in Iran and around the world starting June 13, 2009...

. He has stated that he will neither reconsider vote results nor bow to public pressure over the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "By Allah's favor, the presidential election was accurately held, and the current matters should be pursued legally." In a public appearance on June 19 he expresses his support for the declared winner Ahmadinejad and accused foreign powers — including Britain, Israel and the United States — of helping foment protest against the election results. In particular, he singled out Britain, perceiving the country as the "most evil" of its enemies. He said that the Iranian people will respond with an "iron fist" if Western powers meddle in Iran's internal affairs.

Human rights


Khamenei has called human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 a fundamental principle underlying Islamic teachings, that precedes western concern for human rights by many centuries. Human Rights in Islam include the rights to live, to be free, and to benefit from justice and welfare. He has attacked Western powers who have criticized the rights record of the Islamic Republic for hypocrisy by economically oppressing people in Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 countries and supporting despots and dictators.

However under Khamenei's interpretation this does not extend to religious rights for Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

. Khamenei supported persecution of Bahá'ís
Persecution of Bahá'ís
The persecution of Bahá'ís is the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, where the Bahá'í Faith originated and the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world...

 and signed documents recommending several organized methods of oppression and ways of decreasing the influence of Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 in Iran and abroad.
According to a letter from the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Iran addressed to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force, Khamenei has also ordered the Command Headquarters to identify people who adhere to the Bahá'í Faith and to monitor their activities and gather any and all information about the members of the Bahá'í Faith.

In response to Western complaints of human rights abuses in Iran he has stated that the American administration has committed many crimes and is therefore not fit to judge the Islamic Republic.

In a visit with hardline cleric Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi
Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi
Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi is a hardline Iranian Twelver Shi'i cleric and politician who is widely seen as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's spiritual advisor. He is also a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for choosing the Supreme Leader, where he heads...

, Khamenei praised Mesbah’s books and thoughts as being original, very useful, solid and correct. He also stated that the Islamic world needs these ideas today more than any time in the past. Mesbah Yazdi advocates a return to the values of the 1979 Iranian revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 and is a prominent opponent of the Reformist movement in Iran.

When on 17 September 1992, 3 Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders and their interpreter were assassinated in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin
Mykonos restaurant assassinations
In the Mykonos restaurant assassinations , Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders Sadegh Sharafkandi, Fattah Abdoli, Homayoun Ardalan and their translator Nouri Dehkordi were assassinated at the Mykonos Greek restaurant in Berlin, Germany on 17 September 1992.In the Mykonos trial, the German court...

, Berlin's highest criminal court issued an international arrest warrant for the Iranian intelligence minister for ordering the assassination and implied Khamenei was one of the masterminds behind the attack.

Ali Khamenei appoints the commander of the para-military Basij
Basij
The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of the Islamic Revolution's leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The force consists of young Iranians who have volunteered, often in exchange for official benefits...

 forces that the opposition claim killed dozens of Iranian protesters after the presidential election of June 2009. There is a petition to the International Court of Justice in Hague, to investigate, prosecute and arrest Ali Khamenei for his role in repeated human rights abuses in Iran.

People charged for criticizing Ali Khamenei


Insulting the Leader is a crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Those believed to have insulted Khamenei may be arrested or may be punished on a less formal basis such as by being beaten by vigilante
Vigilante
A vigilante is a private individual who legally or illegally punishes an alleged lawbreaker, or participates in a group which metes out extralegal punishment to an alleged lawbreaker....

s. Even Khamenei's family members have not been immune to this, as his younger brother, the reformist cleric Hadi Khamenei
Hadi Khamenei
Hojatoleslam Hadi Khamenei is an influential Iranian reformist politician, mojtahed and linguist. He is a key member of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics, and a former deputy of the Majlis of Iran representing a district in Tehran....

, was "brutally beaten ... after a sermon in which he criticized the powers of the Supreme Leader," by Basij
Basij
The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of the Islamic Revolution's leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The force consists of young Iranians who have volunteered, often in exchange for official benefits...

 militia loyal to him. Some writers, journalists and politicians who have been charged with "insulting Ali Khamenei" include:
  • Ahmad Zeidabadi
    Ahmad Zeidabadi
    Ahmad Zeidabadi is an Iranian journalist, academic, writer and political analyst and the secretary general of Office for Strengthening Unity. He is one of the notable figures of the Iranian reform movement....

  • Abdollah Nouri
  • Mojtaba Saminejad
    Mojtaba Saminejad
    Mojtaba Saminejad is an Iranian blogger and writer. He studied journalism at the Central Tehran Branch of Islamic Azad University.He is the president of Shahr-e Khorshid publications and editor of Ferdowsi magazine.-Activities:...

  • Mohammad Nourizad
    Mohammad Nourizad
    Mohammad Nourizad, born 10 December 1952 in Shahriar County is an Iranian filmmaker, activist, and former journalist for the conservative daily Kayhan...

  • Issa Saharkhiz
  • Mohsen Sazegara
    Mohsen Sazegara
    Mohsen Sazegara is an Iranian journalist and pro-democracy political activist. Dr. Sazegara held several high ranking positions in the Government of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, such as deputy prime minister, minister of industry, deputy chairman of the budget and planning department, and many more before...

  • Akbar Ganji
    Akbar Ganji
    Akbar Ganji is an Iranian journalist and writer. He has been described as "Iran’s preeminent political dissident", and a "wildly popular pro-democracy journalist" who has crossed press censorship "red lines" regularly...


Foreign policy



Khamenei has "direct responsibility" for foreign policy, which "cannot be conducted without his direct involvement and approval". He has a foreign policy team independent of the president's "which includes two former foreign ministers" and "can at any time of his choosing inject himself into the process and `correct` a flawed policy or decision." His foreign policy is said to steer a course that avoids either confrontation or accommodation with the West.

Opposition to the United States


Khamenei has been described as consistent in his opposition to the United States and the Western World in general, reportedly including this theme into his speeches no matter whether the topic is foreign policy, agriculture or education. He has declared that it is "clear that conflict and confrontation between" Islamic Republic of Iran and the U.S. "is something natural and unavoidable" since the United States "is trying to establish a global dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 and further its own interests by dominating other nations and trampling on their rights." However, while "cutting ties with America is among our basic policies," and "any relations would provide the possibility to the Americans to infiltrate Iran and would pave the way for their intelligence and spy agents," Khamenei holds the door open to relations with the U.S. at some future date, saying "we have never said that the relations will remain severed forever. Undoubtedly, the day the relations with America prove beneficial for the Iranian nation I will be the first one to approve of that." However, in a speech to Iranian students on October 29, 2008, which was quoted on Iranian TV (as translated by MEMRI), Khamenei stated that "the Iranian people's hatred for America is profound. The reason for this [hatred] is the various plots that the U.S. government has concocted against Iran and the Iranian people in the past 50 years. The Americans have not only refused to apologize for their actions, but have continued with their arrogant actions."

On June 4, 2006, Khamenei said that Iran would disrupt energy shipments from the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 region (about 20% of the world's daily supply of oil passes from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz very close to Iran's coast) should the country come under attack from the US, insisting that Tehran will not give up its right to produce nuclear fuel.

On September 14, 2007, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (on 1st Friday prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 of Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

) predicted that George Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 and American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 officials will one day be tried in an international
International
----International mostly means something that involves more than one country. The term international as a word means involvement of, interaction between or encompassing more than one nation, or generally beyond national boundaries...

 criminal court to be held "accountable" for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He has also blamed the United States for "blind terrorism" after its invasion of Iraq. He asserts that the United States is the main cause of insecurity in Iraq.

On March 21, 2009, a day after US President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 unprecedentedly offered Iran a "new beginning" of diplomatic engagement between the two old foes, Khamenei said a change of US "words" was not enough and added: "We will watch and we will judge (the new US administration) ... You change, our behavior will change."

In June 2011, Khamenei accuses the United States government of "terrorism" and rejected the American definition of terrorism
Definition of terrorism
There is neither an academic nor an international legal consensus regarding the proper definition of the word "terrorism". Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions of "terrorism". Moreover, the international community has been slow to formulate a universally agreed...

; he was quoted as saying, "The U.S. and the European governments that follow it describe Palestinian combatant groups who fight for the liberation of their land as terrorists."

Condemnation of September 11, 2001 attacks


After the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, Khamenei condemned the act and the attackers and called for a condemnation of terrorist activities all over the world, but warned strongly against a military intervention in Afghanistan. He is quoted as saying, "Mass killings of human beings are catastrophic acts which are condemned wherever they may happen and whoever the perpetrators and the victims may be".

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict


Khamenei remains a steadfast opponent of the State of Israel and Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

. In 2001 Khamenei famously remarked that "this cancerous tumor of a state [Israel] should be removed from the region" and that "no one will allow a bunch of thugs, lechers and outcasts from London, Washington and Moscow to rule over the Palestinians." On the same occasion he proposed that "Palestinian refugees should return and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s and Jews could choose a government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 for themselves, excluding immigrant Jews
Aliyah
Aliyah is the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel . It is a basic tenet of Zionist ideology. The opposite action, emigration from Israel, is referred to as yerida . The return to the Holy Land has been a Jewish aspiration since the Babylonian exile...

."

According to anti-regime change activist Abbas Edalat, in 2005 Khamenei responded to President
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 Ahmadinejad's remark that Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 should be "wiped off the map" by saying that "the Islamic Republic
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 has never threatened and will never threaten any country."
Moreover Khamenei's main advisor in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati
Ali Akbar Velayati
Ali Akbar Velayati is an Iranian politician, academic and diplomat. He was the Foreign Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1997...

, refused to take part in a Holocaust conference. In contrast to Ahmadinejad's remarks, Velayati said that the Holocaust was a genocide and a historical reality.

In a sermon for Friday prayers in Tehran on 19 September 2008, Khamenei stated that "it is incorrect, irrational, pointless and nonsense to say that we are friends of Israeli people," and that he had raised the issue "to spell an end to any debates". The remarks were made in reference to earlier comments by Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a vice president in charge of tourism, and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had both insisted that Iran was the enemy of the Zionist state but not of the Israeli people.

In a September 2009 sermon, Khamenei was quoted as saying, "the Zionist cancer is gnawing into the lives of Islamic nations."

Personal life and health



Khamenei has six children. His second oldest son, Mojtaba Khamenei
Mojtaba Khamenei
Mojtaba Khamenei is an Iranian hard-line cleric and the second son of Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. Mojtaba has reportedly taken control over the Basij militia being used to suppress the protests over the 2009 election and is also reported to be "being groomed" to succeed his father as...

 currently heads the basij and is reported to be Khamenei's choice to succeed him as Supreme Leader. Khamenei says that he sometimes reads American magazines such as Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 and Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

.

Although not nearly as elderly as some other senior clerics, Khamenei's health has been called into question. In January 2007, after he had not been seen in public for some weeks, and hadn't appeared (as he traditionally does) at celebrations for Eid al-Adha, rumours spread of his illness or death. Khamenei issued a statement declaring that "enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumors about death and health to demoralize the Iranian nation," but according to author Hooman Majd
Hooman Majd
Hooman Majd, born 1957 in Tehran, is currently an Iranian-American journalist and author based in New York City, from where he makes frequest trips to Iran...

 he appeared to be "visibly weak" in photos released with the statement.

An unidentified ally of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

 stated that Khamenei has terminal leukemia
Leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

 and is expected to die within months, and Rafsanjani's unwillingness to act after the disputed Presidential election in 2009
Iranian presidential election, 2009
Iran's tenth presidential election was held on 12 June 2009, with incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad running against three challengers. The next morning the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, announced that with two-thirds of the votes counted, Ahmadinejad had won the election...

 comes from his wish to succeed Khamenei and annul Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election afterwards.

Government posts


Since the founding of the Islamic Republic, Khamenei has held many government posts
  • 1979 - Founded the Islamic Republic Party, along with like-minded clerics such as Mohammad Beheshti, Mohammad Javad Bahonar
    Mohammad Javad Bahonar
    Hojatoleslam Mohammad Javad Bahonar was an Iranian scholar, Shiite theologian and politician who served as the Prime minister of Iran from 15 to 30 August 1981 when he was assassinated by Mujahideen-e Khalq MEK, also known as PMOI and KMO...

    , Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili
    Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili
    Grand Ayatollah Seyed Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili is an Iranian politician and Twelver shi'a marja.-Early Life:He was born on 28 January 1926 in City of Ardabil. His father, Mir-Abdul Rahim was a cleric and his mother died when he was a child.-Education:His father sent him to Mula-Ebrahim School...

    , and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
    Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
    Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

    .
  • 1980 - Secretary of Defense.
  • 1980 - Supervisor of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
  • 1980 - Leader of the Friday Congregational Prayer.
  • 1980 - The Tehran Representative in the Consultative Assembly
    Majlis of Iran
    The National Consultative Assembly of Iran , also called The Iranian Parliament or People's House, is the national legislative body of Iran...

    .
  • 1981 - Ayatollah Khomeini's Representative in the High Security Council.
  • 1981 - Elected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran after assassination of Muahmmad Ali Raja’i, and was re-elected to a second term in 1985.
  • 1982 - chairman of the High Council of Revolution Culture Affairs.
  • 1988 - President of the Expediency Council.
  • 1989 - Chairman of the Constitution Revisal Committee.
  • 1989 - Khamenei became the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran by choice of the Council of Experts, after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini.

See also


  • History of fundamentalist Islam in Iran
    History of fundamentalist Islam in Iran
    The history of fundamentalist Islam in Iran covers the history of Islamic revivalism and the rise of political Islam in modern Iran. Today, there are basically three types of Islam in Iran: traditionalism, modernism, and a variety of forms of revivalism usually brought together as fundamentalism...

  • List of national leaders
  • List of Grand Ayatollahs


External links


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