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Rare Interview Surfaces With The Wife of Iran's Supreme Leader

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a handout photo
Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a handout photo
Several Iranian websites have posted an interview with the wife of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in which she discusses, among other things, her life with Khamenei, whom she portrays as a caring husband, and talks about her favorite form of Islamic hijab.

The wives of most Iranian politicians are almost invisible on Iran’s political scene. Iranian leaders seem to believe that a good and honorable wife is someone who stays away as much as possible from the public sphere.

Khamenei’s wife appears to be the most invisible.

There is no picture of her and no one seems to know anything about her. Her last name is reportedly Khojaste; her first name remains a mystery and so does her face.

It has been reported that she was hospitalized some time ago for several days without anyone knowing that she was the wife of the man who has the last say in religious and political affairs in the Islamic Republic. Hospital officials found out who she was only after Khamenei decided to visit her.

So the rare interview -- perhaps the only one of its kind -- has garnered lots of attention.

All of the websites that have reported the interview refer to her as “the wife of the leader” or the wife of the leader of the revolution."

The interview is said to have been first published in English in 1993 in an Iranian magazine for distribution abroad. It’s not clear why the Persian translation of the interview has been made available online after more than 18 years.

Here are some excerpts:

How did you meet your husband?

I married him in 1964. The wedding took place as it was customary in religious families of those days; her mother came to our house to ask for my hand.

How many children do you have?

We have four sons and two daughters. Our sons were born before the [1979 revolution] and our daughters after.

How did you help your husband in his struggle [against the Shah’s regime]?
I think my biggest role was to preserve a calm atmosphere in our home so that he could do his work in peace. I would sometimes visit him in prison without telling him about our problems. In response to his questions about us, I would only give him good news.

Of course I was also active in distributing pamphlets, carrying messages and hiding documents, but I think [these actions] are not worth mentioning.

Does your husband help you at home?

He neither currently has time [to help] nor do I expect him to do so. One admirable trait he has which could be as an example for others, is that even, though he often comes home tired from work, he does his best to keep work-related problems away from home.

Are you a government employee?

As a Muslim woman in the Islamic Republic, like all the other Muslim sisters, I have some responsibilities which I perform with full force. But I don’t have any official responsibility.

What does your husband expect from you?

He doesn’t expect anything but a happy, calm, and healthy family environment.
Please tell your view about the Islamic Hijab for our readers.

I think chador is the best cover for outside the home. For inside the home, it’s very different. Of course clothing should always be according to Islamic chastity.

--Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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