Sept 17 (Reuters) – 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 Mohammad, 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 rumours on social media that he was ill.
The New York Times said on Friday, quoting four people familiar with Khamenei’s health situation, that the supreme leader had cancelled all meetings and public appearances last week after falling gravely ill, and said he was currently on bedrest and under observation by doctors.
Khamenei told the gathering on Saturday that believers should rely on the Koran, the Muslim holy book, which calls for patience when facing hard times – an apparent reference to Iran’s economic woes as the country faces U.S. 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.”