am ali khamenei

Ali Khamenei

(علی حسینی خامنه‌ای, born 17 July 1939), also known as Ali Khamenei, is an Iranian Azeri politician and cleric. He has been Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989 and before that was president of Iran from 1981 to 1989.

Early life

Ali Khamenei began religious studies before completing elementary education. The son of a cleric, he is second eldest of eight children, and two of his brothers are also clerics. His younger brother, Hadi Khamenei, is a notable newspaper editor and cleric.

He attended the seminary classes at the rudimentary ("sath") and advanced ("kharej") levels in the hawza of Mashhad, under his mentors such as Haj Sheikh Hashem Qazvini, and Ayatollah Milani, and then went to Najaf in 1957. After a short stay he left Najaf to Mashhad, and in 1958 he settled in Qom. Khamenei attended the classes of Ayatollahs Husain Borujerdi and Ruhollah Khomeini. Later, he was involved in the Islamic activities of 1963 which led to his arrest in the city of Birjand, 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 has an educated-native-speaker's knowledge of Persian and Arabic. He has translated several books into Persian from Arabic like the works of the Egyptian Islamist theoretician Sayyid Qutb. He also has a lesser degree of understanding of the Azeri language and English.

In Persian, he likes poetry. In his analysis of the Persian poetry of Allameh Muhammad Iqbal, he states that "Iqbal was not acquainted with Persian idiom, as he spoke Urdu 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 in Iran and a close confidant of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Khomeini appointed Khamenei to the post of Tehran's Friday Prayer Leader in the autumn of 1979, after the resignation of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri from the post. He served briefly as the Deputy Minister for Defence and as a supervisor of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Also he went to battlefield as a representative of 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 by a landslide vote in the Iranian presidential election, October 1981 and became the first cleric to serve in the office. Ayatollah Khomeini had originally wanted to keep clerics out of the presidency, but this view was compromised.

In his presidential inaugural address 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 executed, often by revolutionary courts. By 1982, the government announced that the courts would be reined in, although various political groups were repressed by the government in the first half of the decade.

Khamenei helped lead the country during the long, bloody Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s, and developed close ties with the now-powerful Revolutionary Guards. As president, he had a reputation as a policy wonk deeply interested in military matters, budgets and administrative details.

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

Iran hostage crisis

During the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Khamenei was shown on Iranian Television visiting at least one hostages to enquire whether they were "satisfied with residence, meal, hygiene? Afterwards, he gave a press briefing to the media expressing his belief that the hostages were treated properly by their captors.

Supreme Leader (Velāyat-e faqih)

Seyyed Ali Khamene'i was preceded by Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Islamic Revolution in Iran. When Khomeini died, Khamenei was elected as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts on June 4, 1989. Initially, a council of three members, "Ali Meshkini, Mousavi Ardabili and Khamenei", was proposed for Leadership. After rejection of a Leadership Council by the assembly, and lack of votes for Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Golpaygani, Khamenei became the Supreme Leader by two third of the votes.

The concept of an Islamic ruler superior to all national political figures or governmental organs is called Velayat e Faqih (guardianship of the jurist). It was first developed by Ayatollah Muhammad Naraqi and expanded and revised by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In this kind of theocratic leadership, no political decision is lawful until it is approved by the supreme leader (Vali e Faqih, ولی فقیه in Persian). Even the taking of office by the democratically elected president is subject to the approval of the Supreme Leader.

Khamenei transformed the position of supreme leader, bringing many of the powers of the presidency with him into the office, turning it into an "omnipotent overseer of Iran's political scene", according to Vali Nasr, a scholar of Shiism. Officials under Khamenei influence the country's various powerful 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.

Appointment as Supreme Leader

At the time of Khomeini's death Khamenei was not a marja or even an ayatollah, and the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran required the Supreme Leader to be a marja. However, the 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 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 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.

His status as marja is controversial. In 1994, after the death of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Araki, the Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom declared Khamenei a new marja. However, four of Iran's dissident grand ayatollahs declined to recognize Khamenei as a marja. Nevertheless, according to 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, did not accept Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a marja. According to "Human Rights in Iran" (2001) by Pace University'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 Hassan Tabatabai-Qomi and Grand Ayatollah Yasubedin Rastegari.

Political power following reform era

According to Karim Sadjadpour of the American Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, several factors that have strengthened Khamemei in recent years:
(1) A vast network of commissars stationed in stratgic posts throughout government bureacracies, 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 Revoutionary 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 ...

Political attitude

In his speeches Khamenei consistently dwells on familiar themes of the 1979 revolution: the importance of justice, independence, self-sufficiency, and Islam; the need for resolute opposition to Israel and United States. Dealing with the presidents who have served during his reign, Khamenei has successfully scuttled President Rafansjani's attempts to find a modus vivendi with the United States, President Khatami's aspirations for a more democratic Islamic state, and President Ahmadinejad's desire for confrontation.

Domestic policy

Khamenei is widely regarded by some as the figurehead of the country's conservative establishment.

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.

In 2007, Khamenei requested that government officials speed up Iran's move towards economic privatization. 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 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.

In 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. 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 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.

Interpretation of Islamic law

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 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. However, he is positive on reinterpreting Islamic law in a way that it is more favorable to women - but not by following Western conventions. Khamenei made these comments two days after Iranian women's rights activist Delaram Ali 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 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. Khamenei did not name these western intellectuals.

In 2007, Iranian police which acts under the control of Supreme leader, launched a "Public Security Plan": The police arrested 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 against women not adhering fully to the strict Islamic dress code, in Tehran alone 62,785 women were stopped by police, and of these 1,837 were arrested. In the first three months, police arrested in the capital more than 8,000 young "criminals" who have offended public morals.

The Islamic Republic has not yet allowed a single Sunni mosque to be built in Tehran; although President Mohammad Khatami promised during election time to build a Sunni mosque in Tehran. After he won the elections, he was reminded of his promise but he said that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had not agreed to the proposal.

Iran's elections

In February 2004 Parliament elections, the Council of Guardians, a council of twelve members, half of whom are appointed by Khamenei, disqualified thousands of candidates, including many of the reformist members of the parliament and all the candidates of the Islamic Iran Participation Front party from running. It did not allow 80 members of the 6th Iranian parliament (including the deputy speaker) 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 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 Mamoud 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.

Human rights

Khamenei has called human rights 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, to benefit from justice and to 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 countries and supporting despots and dictators.

However under Khamenei's interpretation this does not extend to religious rights for Bahá'í. Khamenei supported persecution of Bahá'ís and signed documents recommending several organized methods of oppression and ways of decreasing the influence of Bahá'ís 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, 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 and is a prominent opponent of the Reformist movement in Iran.

People charged for criticizing Ali Khamenei

Insulting the Leader is a crime in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Khamenei, who has been called "notoriously thin-skinned," has not been hesitant in seeing this law enforced against Journalists and writers in Iran. Even family members are not immune, as his younger brother, the reformist cleric Hadi Khamenei, was "brutally beaten ... after a sermon in which he criticized the powers of the Supreme Leader," by Basij militia loyal to him. Some writers, journalists and politicians who have been charged with "insulting Ali Khamenei" include:

Foreign policy

Khamenei's foreign policy is said to steer a course that avoids either confrontation or accommodation with the West.

Economic sanctions

During 1980-90, Khamenei's administration faced the brunt of the first-generation US economic sanctions. He failed to arrest the Iranian Rial plunging in value from 70 to 415 to the US Dollar effectively evaporating the foreign exchange reserves of the government.

Opposition to the United States

Khamenei has been described as consistent in his opposition to the United States which is a theme of 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 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."

On June 4, 2006, Khamenei said that Iran would disrupt energy shipments from the Persian Gulf 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 of Ramadan) predicted that George Bush and American officials will one day be tried in an international 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.

Condemnation of September 11, 2001 attacks

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, 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 assault on the Taliban regime 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".

Israel-Palestine conflict

In 2001 Khamenei famously remarked that "this cancerous tumor of a state [Israel] should be removed from the region." On the same occasion he proposed that "Palestinian refugees should return and Muslims, Christians and Jews could choose a government for themselves, excluding immigrant Jews.

In 2005 Khamenei responded to President Ahmadinejad's alleged remark that Israel should be "wiped off the map" by saying that "the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country. Moreover Khamenei's main advisor in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, 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.

Fatwa against nuclear weapons

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa saying the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons 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 (IAEA) in Vienna.

Mykonos assassinations

on 10 April 1997 , Berlin's highest criminal court issued an international arrest warrant, and with knowledge Ali Khamenei because ordered attack on the Mykonos restaurant assassinations

Personal life

Khamenei has four sons and three daughters, Mojtaba, Mostafa, Massoud, Maysam, Boshra, Hoda, and Alla. According to Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel he has an austere lifestyle.

Government posts

Since the founding of the Islamic Republic, Khamenei has held many government posts


Ayatollah Khamenei has numerous representatives in different organizations (army, judiciary system, universities etc.) and cities. Here are his most notable representatives:


See also


External links

Official Websites

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