Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei received a group of visitors during a religious ceremony on Saturday, his first public appearance for more than two weeks, and urged them to act with patience and perseverance.
State television showed Khamenei, 83, standing as he spoke in a steady voice to his audience sitting on the floor about the importance of Arbaeen, a ceremony that marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein.
Two sources close to Khamenei denied to Reuters on Friday that his health had deteriorated, responding to questions about his health. Khamenei had not appeared in public since he met followers in Tehran on Sept. 3, sparking rumors on social media that he was ill.
Khamenei told the gathering on Saturday that believers should rely on the Qur'an, the Muslim holy book, which calls for patience when facing hard times — an apparent reference to Iran’s economic woes as the country faces US sanctions.
“Patience means perseverance, it means resisting, not getting tired, not feeling yourself at a dead end,” Khamenei said, holding a microphone.
“Take the right way and take others along to the right path.”
Iran’s supreme leader was on bed rest under observation after falling ill last week, the New York Times had reported on Friday.
Khamenei “canceled all meetings and public appearances last week after falling gravely ill,” the paper said, citing four unnamed sources with knowledge of Khamenei’s health situation.
The 83-year-old leader had surgery last week at a home clinic for bowel obstruction after suffering “extreme stomach pains and high fever”.
The US paper said that Khamenei, who took over as supreme leader in 1989, was too weak to even sit up and is being monitored by a group of doctors, though his condition had improved from last week.
This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)
Iran’s supreme leader makes final decisions in major domestic, regional and global issues, including those related to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
US President Joe Biden’s administration is attempting to revive a nuclear agreement — scuttled by his predecessor Donald Trump — with Iran in a bid to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. US allies in the region have called on Biden not to renew the deal in order to thwart Tehran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East.