Ali Hoseyni Khamenei was born in Mashhad, one of Iran’s most holy cities, and is said to be a descendent of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. After the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, Khamenei came to power as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Before that, he had been the President of Iran for about 8 years.
The Constitution of Iran stipulates Islam, specifically Shia Islam, to be the official religion of the country. Khamenei is aiming for a state that is adhering to that version of Islam as closely as possible. Khamenei’s predecessor created the idea of the Supreme Leader as an Islamic guardian to the state. No political decision is lawful unless it is approved by the Supreme Leader.
Under Khamenei’s reign, Christians, especially those with a Muslim background, are continuing to be persecuted. A judge can legitimately punish a Christian convert from a Muslim background with the death penalty; however, the last apostasy execution was under Khamenei’s predecessor’s reign.
In a speech on October 19th, 2010, Khamenei warned the country for the ever-expanding influence and number of house churches. Recently, punishments for converts and house church leaders seem to have increased. Over 70 Christians are currently locked up and sometimes even tortured for their faith in dirty, overcrowded prisons all over Iran.
How to pray
Pray that God will open the eyes of Khamenei to see the real God. Pray that he will strive for a country in His will, not that of Shia Islam. Pray that his attempts to eradicate the church of Iran will fail.