Birthday: July 17, 1939
Age: 81 Years, 81 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei
Born in: Mashhad
Famous as: Supreme Leader of Iran
Quotes By Ali Khamenei
Spouse/Ex-: Khojaste Bagherzadeh
father: Seyyed Javad Khamenei
mother: Khadijeh Mirdamadi
siblings: Hadi Khamenei, Mohammad Khamenei, Rababeh Khamenei
children: Boshra Khamenei, Hoda Khamenei, Masoud Khamenei, Meysam Khamenei, Mojtaba Khamenei, Mostafa Khamenei
Ali Khamenei is the current Supreme Leader of Iran, serving in this position since 1989. Once named as the 21st in the list of ‘The World's Most Powerful People’ by Forbes, he is considered the most powerful political authority in Iran, even more powerful than the President of the country. A Shia Cleric, he has called human rights a fundamental principle underlying Islamic teachings. Prior to becoming the Supreme Leader of Iran he had served as the President of Iran for several years. He played a key role in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 in which the Pahlavi dynasty under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was overthrown and an Islamic Republic was established under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As a close confidant of Ruhollah Khomeini, Ali Khamenei achieved considerable political power. He assumed the post of the president in 1981 following the assassination of Mohammad-Ali Rajai and became the first cleric to serve in the office. Shortly before becoming the president he was badly injured in an attempted assassination that paralyzed his right arm, but nothing could thwart his political ambitions. He eventually succeeded the first Supreme Leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, upon his death to become the second individual to hold this position.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 17 July 1939 as the second of eight children to Seyyed Javad Khamenei and Khadijeh Mirdamadi in Mashhad, Iran.
From an early age he attended religious studies at the hawza of Mashhad where his mentors were Sheikh Hashem Qazvini, and Ayatollah Milani.
In 1958, he traveled to Qom where he attended the classes of Seyyed Hossein Borujerdi and Ruhollah Khomeini, eventually becoming involved in the Islamic activities of 1963.
He was imprisoned many times by Iran’s security services for his involvement in Islamic activities. His association with Khomeini was profound and would continue for life.
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He collaborated with other like-minded clerics such as Mohammad Beheshti, Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Abdul-Karim Mousavi Ardebili, and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to found the Islamic Republic Party in 1979.
He also served briefly as the Deputy Minister for Defence and as a supervisor of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards in 1980.
In June 1981, an armed opposition group, Mojahedin Khalq Organization, tried to kill him with a bomb hidden inside a tape recorder while he was delivering a speech. He was badly injured in this attack and even though he survived, he lost the use of his right arm.
Shortly afterwards, the President Mohammad Rajai was assassinated and Khamenei was elected President of Iran by a landslide vote in the Iranian presidential elections in October 1981, becoming the first cleric to serve in this office.
The 1980s was a turbulent time in Iran and he helped guide the nation during the Iraq-Iran War and forged ties with the Revolutionary Guards. He was reelected in 1985. While serving as the president he was also the chairman of the Supreme Defense Council and the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council.
The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, died in 1989 and Ali Khamenei succeeded him, assuming the role of the new Supreme Leader of Iran on 4 June 1989.
As the Supreme Leader he has even more power than the President of Iran; in fact, even the taking of office by the democratically elected president is subject to the approval of the Leader.
Iran's nuclear program has been a subject of international debate for decades and he rekindled controversy by issuing a fatwa saying the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam.
In spite of being a conservative Muslim, he supports stem cell research and therapeutic cloning as he has always been in favor of scientific progress in Iran. He stated that the country should be making more investment in the fields of science and technology and accord higher status to scholars.
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Since he holds a position that carries more power than the president’s, his relationships with Iran’s presidents have always made the headlines. He had a peaceful working relationship with President Hashemi Rafsanjani in the early 1990s.
But when President Mohammad Khatami assumed office in 1997, the two men did not enjoy a smooth relationship as their ideologies often conflicted. Khatami called for political and social reforms and a more democratic Islamic state while Khamenei was more conservative in his outlook.
Even though he has called human rights a fundamental principle underlying Islamic teachings, he has often been criticized by the western media for the sorry state of human rights in Iran. He is of the belief that homosexuality is wrong and believes in the need for compulsory hijab for women. Also he has invited considerable wrath of the media for curbing freedom of the press.
He and the Iranian government have earned widespread contempt for their racist and anti-semetic threats against the State of Israel. He became particularly notorious for calling Israel a “rabid dog” and a “cancerous tumor”. However, he supported the Egyptian uprising against their government, describing it as Islamic awakening.
He played a key role in the 1979 Iranian revolution, which led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty and establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
He was one of the major figures who guided the country during the Iran-Iraq War.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Khojaste Bagherzadeh in 1964. The couple has four sons and two daughters.