By: Mir M.Hosseini
Ayatollah Khamenei was appointed as the new Supreme Leader after Ayatollah Khomeini suddenly died. Khamenei served twice as President, once after assassination of President Rajayi, he won elections in October 1981 with more than %95 of the 16 million votes cast, and he was elected again in November 1985. By two thirds of the votes, he was chosen as the new Supreme Leader by the Assembly of Experts. The idea of Supreme Leader was developed by Ayatollah Khomeini as the highest political and religious authority; such divine power above public vote has turned Iran into a theocracy.
Born on July, 16, 1939 in Mashhad, he went to clerics school in Najaf in 1957. Very shortly after that, he continued his studies in Qom. Because of his anti-Shah activities, he was first arrested and sent to jail in 1964. He served 6 times in jail until his release in 1975, he was sent to the city of Iranshahr.
He took an active role during the 1979 revolution and was appointed as the Friday Imam and a member of the Revolutionary Council. He was the head of the Supreme Defense Council, when an assassination attempt seriously injured him in June, 1981. A bomb, concealed in a tape recorder at a press conference, exploded beside him. His right hand has been malfunctioning ever since.
Khamenei's new status as Supreme Leader started with controversies. He was not even an Ayatollah in 1989 which raised voices of discontent among some high ranking clerics. In 1994, he was declared Marja. However, some dissident grand ayatollahs have declined to recognize Khamenei as Marja. As a supporter of scientific progress, he was among the first clerics to authorize stem cell research cloning.
Khamenei has been the target of some international right groups for his policies limiting press freedom and supression of dissidents but he has proved to be following a milder and more logical path.