Khamane?I, Sayyed ?Ali (1939– )

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Sayyed ˓Ali Khamane˒i, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran (r. 1989– ) was born in Mashad, Khorasan province, Iran, in 1939. Khamane˒i finished his study in Qom Seminary in 1964. During the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah, Khamane˒i was a student of Ruhollah Khomeini, the future leader of the Iranian Revolution. Khamane˒i was arrested many times during the shah's rule, served a total of three years in prison between 1964 and 1978, and was exiled for a year between 1978 and 1979, spending his time in Kanshahr, Baluchistan province. In 1979, following the overthrow of the shah, he was selected as the representative of the Revolutionary Council in the army as well as Deputy for Revolutionary Affairs at the National Ministry of Defense. He was also chosen as the leader of the Friday prayer in Tehran.

In 1980 Khamane˒i was elected to the Iranian Parliament. He was one of the founding members of the Islamic Republic Party. In June 1981 he became the target of an unsuccessful assassination attempt. In 1981, following the assassination of President Raja˒e, he was elected as the third president of revolutionary Iran. He was reelected president in 1985 and served a second four-year term. On 4 June 1989, after the death of the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Assembly of Experts chose Khamane˒i as the vali-ye faqih or leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. His main problem in leadership as a substitute for his predecessor, Khomeini, has been his lack of traditional and charismatic legitimacy.

After several attempts to make him the sole marja˓al-taqlid (Twelver Shi˓a leader) had failed, he was endorsed as one of seven maraje˓ by the conservative Qom clerics in December 1994. His political modus operandi includes conspiracy theory, religious authoritarianism, antipluralism, and anti-intellectualism. Khamane˒i has been accused of killing about eighty political activists and intellectuals both within and outside Iran since the 1990s. He closed more than eighty newspapers and imprisoned sixty journalists, political activists, and intellectuals in 2000 and 2001.

See alsoIran, Islamic Republic of ; Revolution: Islamic Revolution in Iran .

Majid Mohammadi