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Iran Leader Dead, Opposition Says

15.10.2009
 
Iran Leader Dead, Opposition Says

Sources at the Iranian opposition said that the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has died. The Iranian police have increased their activities in the streets of Teheran recently.

For the time being, it is known that Khamenei lost consciousness on Monday afternoon and was hospitalized. Only his son and personal therapist have the right to visit Ayatollah at hospital. Khamenei reportedly lapsed into coma, although spokespeople for the Iranian opposition say that the spiritual leader has passed away.

The Iranian administration has not commented the situation yet.

Several western publications said that the information about Khamenei’s death could not be regarded as trustworthy, although the rumors may eventually prove to be true. At least, the Iranians did not conceal the poor state of health of the 70-year-old spiritual leader of the nation.

Background:

Ali Khamenei has been the Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989 and was president of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He has been described as one of only three people having "important influences" 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). So far, the biggest challenge to his leadership has been the mass protests following the June 2009 presidential elections, during which more than 100 citizens were killed and nearly four thousand people were arrested. Khamenei, however, continued to strongly support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies and re-election.

Khamenei was the victim of a terrorist attack in June 1981 which paralyzed his right hand. In 2000 he was listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists as "one of the top ten enemies of the press and freedom of expression", and was named to the Time 100 in 2007.

Among his controversial actions was 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 he appointed. Following the events of the 2009 Iranian Election, people wrote Death to Khamenei on Iranian Rials and upon the buildings and walls of cities.

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