He is the leading cleric in one of the most successful Islamic movements in the world. A man with a poor, capsule unpretentious background, he came to be fluent in both Persian and Arabic and has translated many poems and religious texts.
Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader since 1989, was thought to be a religious man leading by example with an unadorned, pious life.
Then a few weeks ago some former confidants of Khamenei began posting articles and videos presenting evidence that the Ayatollah’s life may be a bit more profligate than he would like his followers to believe, with photos of his various villas contrasted in online slideshows with photos of poor Iranians suffering in a serious economic recession.
The revelations, replete with pipe collections, rings, horses, caviar and flying hospitals, caused such embarrassment to the supreme leader’s image that earlier this week Khamenei felt compelled to publicly deny the accusations that he leads an extravagant life.
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