While most babies cry after they are born, Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the name of the first Imam of the Shi'a as he was about to be born. That's according to Ayatollah Mohammad Saeedi, the Friday Prayer leader of the Iranian holy city of Qom.
In a video
that's making the rounds and was reportedly aired on Iranian state television, Saeedi tells his audience an anecdote about the birth of Khamenei. He says Khamenei's half-sister has said that the midwife who was helping Khamenei's mother give birth told her that when Khamenei was about to leave his mother's body, he said, "Ya Ali," to which the midwife responded, "May Ali protect you."
Khamenei's supporters have been trying to elevate his religious status. Many call him Imam Khamenei and claim he is an associate of the Hidden Imam who they believe will appear to bring peace and justice on Earth.
During Khamenei's trip to Qom in October, reports said copies of his family tree had been distributed that showed him as a descendent of the fourth Imam of the Shi'a.
Some bloggers said the lighting of Khamenei's car
during his trip to Qom was aimed at giving an artificial halo.
Saeedi's comments appear to be part of the same efforts.
Observers say Khamenei's status was seriously damaged following his support for President Mahmud Ahmadinejad during the 2009 postelection crisis. While criticizing Khamenei before the disputed vote was considered taboo and a red line very few were willing to cross, since then the Iranian leader has become a target of criticism and been directly blamed for human rights violations.
Khamenei's pictures have been reportedly torn apart and set on fire during opposition protests and many protesters have chanted slogans against him.
-- Golnaz Esfandiari