Terrorism – The Common Worry of Everyone, Including Iran

IRAN has been the bogey country of the West since the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and its public demonization by the USA.

Anyone of a certain age will remember the portrayal of its then leader Ayatollah Khomeini in Western media as all that was “wrong with Islam”.

Matters weren’t improved in 1989 by the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses.

Many Muslims accused Rushdie of blasphemy and in 1989 Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie.

Numerous killings, attempted killings, and bombings resulted from Muslim anger over the novel.

The Iranian government backed the fatwa against Rushdie until 1998, when the succeeding government of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said it no longer supported the killing of Rushdie.

But all is never as it seems, particularly when the US and UK’s right wing press is involved, and by 1991 Iraq had replaced Iran as the West’s Bête Noire.

Comical in all of this was that many Americans believed Iraq and Iran were actually the same country!

The fact that today the USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia all want to either bomb or control Iran, speaks volumes for its power and status in the Middle East.

Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979, when the monarchy was overthrown and clerics assumed political control under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian revolution put an end to the rule of the Shah, who had alienated powerful religious, political and popular forces with a programme of modernization and Westernization coupled with heavy repression of dissent.

Persia, as Iran was known before 1935, was one of the greatest empires of the ancient world, and the country has long maintained a distinct cultural identity within the Islamic world by retaining its own language and adhering to the Shia interpretation of Islam.

A brief political history of modern Iran is perhaps warranted.

In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected as the prime minister. He became enormously popular after he nationalized Iran’s petroleum industry and oil reserves.

But he was deposed in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, an Anglo-American covert operation that marked the first (and not the last) time the US had overthrown a foreign government during the Cold War.

After the coup, the Shah became increasingly autocratic and Iran entered a decades’ long period of close relations with the USA.

While the Shah increasingly modernised Iran and claimed to retain it as a fully secular state, arbitrary arrests and torture by his secret police, the SAVAK, were used to crush all forms of political opposition.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became an active critic of the Shah’s White Revolution, and publicly denounced the government. In 1963 Khomeini was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months.

After his release in 1964, Khomeini publicly criticized the United States government. The Shah sent him into exile.

In 1974, the economy of Iran was experiencing double digit inflation, and despite many large projects to modernize the country, corruption was rampant and caused large amounts of waste.

By 1976, an economic recession led to increased unemployment, especially among millions of young people who had migrated to the cities of Iran looking for construction jobs during the boom years of the early 1970s.

By the late 1970s, many of these people opposed the Shah’s regime and began to organize and join the protests against it.

An Islamic Revolution began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations against the Shah.

After a year of strikes and demonstrations paralyzing the country and its economy, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country and Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran in February 1979, forming a new government. After holding a referendum, in April 1979, Iran officially became an Islamic Republic.

Then on November 4, 1979, a group of students seized the United States Embassy in Tehran and took 52 personnel and citizens hostage, after the US refused to return Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to Iran to face trial in the court of the new regime.

Attempts by the Jimmy Carter administration to negotiate for the release of the hostages, and a failed rescue attempt, helped force Carter out of office and brought Ronald Reagan to power. On Carter’s final day in office, the last hostages were finally set free as a result of the Algiers Accords.

Following the Iran–Iraq War, in 1989, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his administration concentrated on a pragmatic pro-business policy of rebuilding and strengthening the economy without making any dramatic break with the ideology of the revolution.

In 1997, Rafsanjani was succeeded by the reformist Mohammad Khatami, whose government attempted to make the country more democratic.

Hassan Rouhani was elected as President of Iran on June 15, 2013, and his victory improved the relations of Iran with many other countries.

Now with warfare raging across the Middle East, most neutral observers view Iran as a necessary bulwark against ISIS and the dirty tricks of the USA, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Against that background Iran’s constitutional Leader of the Revolution Sayyid Ali Khamenei has now written an unprecedented second open letter to young people in the West.

Entitled: Today Terrorism is Our Common Worry, he speaks clearly and with a hand of friendship to the West, but is also openly critical in the role the USA has played in the creation of ISIS and the brutality of Zionist Israel.

The letter, a condemnation of terrorism, can also be seen as a plea for self-reflection and clarification of misreported facts at a time of heightened tensions, bloodshed, war, occupation, hate.

Here is his unedited letter in full. I recommend you read it at least twice!

“The bitter events brought about by blind terrorism in France have once again, moved me to speak to you young people.

The bitter events brought about by blind terrorism in France have once again, moved me to speak to you young people.  

For me, it is unfortunate that such incidents would have to create the framework for a conversation, however the truth is that if painful matters do not create the grounds for finding solutions and mutual consultation, then the damage caused will be multiplied.

The pain of any human being anywhere in the world causes sorrow for a fellow human being.  The sight of a child losing his life in the presence of his loved ones, a mother whose joy for her family turns into mourning, a husband who is rushing the lifeless body of his spouse to some place and the spectator who does not know whether he will be seeing the final scene of life- these are scenes that rouse the emotions and feelings of any human being. 

Anyone who has benefited from affection and humanity is affected and disturbed by witnessing these scenes- whether it occurs in France or in Palestine or Iraq or Lebanon or Syria. 

Without a doubt, the one-and-a-half billion Muslims also have these feelings and abhor and are revolted by the perpetrators and those responsible for these calamities. 

The issue, however, is that if today’s pain is not used to build a better and safer future, then it will just turn into bitter and fruitless memories. I genuinely believe that it is only you the youth who by learning the lessons of today’s hardship, have the power to discover new means for building the future and who can be barriers in the misguided path that has brought the west to its current impasse.  

Anyone who has benefited from affection and humanity is affected and disturbed by witnessing these scenes- whether it occurs in France or in Palestine or Iraq or Lebanon or Syria.  

It is correct that today terrorism is our common worry.  However, it is necessary for you to know that the insecurity and strain that you experienced during the recent events, differs from the pain that the people of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan have been experiencing for many years, in two significant ways. 

First, the Islamic world has been the victim of terror and brutality to a larger extent territorially, to greater amount quantitatively and for a longer period in terms of time. Second, that unfortunately this violence has been supported by certain great powers through various methods and effective means. 

Today, there are very few people who are uninformed about the role of the United States of America in creating, nurturing and arming al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their inauspicious successors. 

Besides this direct support, the overt and well-known supporters of takfiri terrorism- despite having the most backward political systems – are standing arrayed as allies of the west while the most pioneering, brightest and most dynamic democrats in the region are suppressed mercilessly. The prejudiced response of the west to the awakening movement in the Islamic world is an illustrative example of the contradictory western policies.

I genuinely believe that it is only you the youth who by learning the lessons of today’s hardship can be barriers in the misguided path that has brought the west to its current impasse.  

The other side of these contradictory policies is seen in supporting the state terrorism of Israel. 

The oppressed people of Palestine have experienced the worst kind of terrorism for the last 60 years. 

If the people of Europe have now taken refuge in their homes for a few days and refrain from being present in busy places- it is decades that a Palestinian family is not secure even in its own home from the Zionist regime’s death and destruction machinery.

What kind of atrocious violence today is comparable to that of the settlement constructions of the Zionist regime?

This regime- without ever being seriously and significantly censured by its influential allies or even by the so-called independent international organizations- everyday demolishes the homes of Palestinians and destroys their orchards and farms. 

This is done without even giving them time to gather their belongings or agricultural products and usually it is done in front of the terrified and tear-filled eyes of women and children who witness the brutal beatings of their family members who in some cases are being dragged away to gruesome torture chambers.  

In today’s world, do we know of any other violence on this scale and scope and for such an extended period of time?

Shooting down a woman in the middle of the street for the crime of protesting against a soldier who is armed to the teeth- if this is not terrorism, what is? This barbarism, because it is being done by the armed forces of an occupying government, should not be called extremism? Or maybe only because these scenes have been seen repeatedly on television screens for 60 years, they should no longer stir our consciences.

The military invasions of the Islamic world in recent years- with countless victims- are another example of the contradictory logic of the west. The assaulted countries, in addition to the human damage caused, have lost their economic and industrial infrastructure, their movement towards growth and development has been stopped or delayed and in some cases, has been thrown back decades. 

Despite all this, they are rudely being asked not to see themselves as oppressed.  How can a country be turned into ruins, have its cities and towns covered in dust and then be told that it should please not view itself as oppressed? Instead of enticements to not understand and to not mention disasters, would not an honest apology be better? 

The pain that the Islamic world has suffered in these years from the hypocrisy and duplicity of the invaders is not less than the pain from the material damage.

Dear youth! I have the hope that you- now or in the future- can change this mentality corrupted by duplicity, a mentality whose highest skill is hiding long-term goals and adorning malevolent objectives.

Dear youth! I have the hope that you – now or in the future – can change this mentality corrupted by duplicity, a mentality whose highest skill is hiding long-term goals and adorning malevolent objectives.  In my opinion, the first step in creating security and peace is reforming this violence-breeding mentality. 

Until double-standards dominate western policies, until terrorism- in the view of its powerful supporters- is divided into “good” and “bad” types, and until governmental interests are given precedence over human values and ethics, the roots of violence should not be searched for in other places.

Unfortunately, these roots have taken hold in the depths of western cultural policies over the course of many years and they have caused a soft and silent invasion. 

Many countries of the world take pride in their local and national cultures, cultures which through development and regeneration have soundly nurtured human societies for centuries.  The Islamic world is not an exception to this. 

However in the current era, the western world with the use of advanced tools is insisting on the cloning and replication of its culture on a global scale.  I consider the imposition of western culture upon other peoples and the trivialization of independent cultures as a form of silent violence and extreme harmfulness. 

Humiliating rich cultures and insulting the most honoured parts of these, is occurring while the alternative culture being offered in no way has any qualification for being a replacement.  For example, the two elements of “aggression” and “moral promiscuity” which unfortunately have become the main elements of western culture, have even degraded the position and acceptability of its source region.      

So now the question is: are we “sinners” for not wanting an aggressive, vulgar and fatuous culture? Are we to be blamed for blocking the flood of impropriety that is directed towards our youth in the shape of various forms of quasi-art? 

I do not deny the importance and value of cultural interaction.  Whenever these interactions are conducted in natural circumstances and with respect for the receiving culture, they result in growth, development and richness. 

On the contrary, inharmonious interactions have been unsuccessful and harmful impositions.

We have to state with full regret that vile groups such as DAESH are the spawn of such ill-fated pairings with imported cultures. 

If the matter was simply theological, we would have had to witness such phenomena before the colonialist era, yet history shows the contrary.  Authoritative historical records clearly show how colonialist confluence of extremist and rejected thoughts in the heart of a Bedouin tribe, planted the seed of extremism in this region. 

How then is it possible that such garbage as DAESH comes out of one of the most ethical and humane religious schools which as part of its inner core, includes the notion that taking the life of one human being is equivalent to killing the whole humanity?

One has to ask why people who are born in Europe and who have been intellectually and mentally nurtured in that environment are attracted to such groups?  Can we really believe that people with only one or two trips to war zones, suddenly become so extreme that they can riddle the bodies of their compatriots with bullets? 

On this matter, we certainly cannot forget about the effects of a life nurtured in a pathologic culture in a corrupt environment borne out of violence.  On this matter, we need complete analyses, analyses that see the hidden and apparent corruptions. 

Maybe a deep hate – planted in the years of economic and industrial growth and borne out of inequality and possibly legal and structural prejudice – created ideas that every few years appear in a sickening manner. 

Any rushed and emotional reaction which would isolate, intimidate and create more anxiety for the Muslim communities living in Europe and America not only will not solve the problem but will increase the chasms and resentments.

In any case, you are the ones that have to uncover the apparent layers of your own society and untie and disentangle the knots and resentments. Fissures have to be sealed, not deepened.

Hasty reactions is a major mistake when fighting terrorism which only widens the chasms.

Any rushed and emotional reaction which would isolate, intimidate and create more anxiety for the Muslim communities living in Europe and America- which are comprised of millions of active and responsible human beings- and which would deprive them of their basic rights more than has already happened and which would drive them away from society- not only will not solve the problem but will increase the chasms and resentments.

Superficial measures and reactions, especially if they take legal forms, will do nothing but increase the current polarizations, open the way for future crises and will result in nothing else.  

According to reports received, some countries in Europe have issued guidelines encouraging citizens to spy on Muslims.  This behaviour is unjust and we all know that pursuing injustice has the characteristic of unwanted reversibility.  Besides, the Muslims do not deserve such ill-treatment. 

For centuries, the western world has known Muslims well- the day that westerners were guests in Islamic lands and were attracted to the riches of their hosts and on another day when they were hosts and benefitted from the efforts and thoughts of Muslims- they generally experienced nothing but kindness and forbearance.

Therefore I want you youth to lay the foundations for a correct and honourable interaction with the Islamic world based on correct understanding, deep insight and lessons learned from horrible experiences. 

In such a case and in the not too distant future, you will witness the edifice built on these firm foundations which creates a shade of confidence and trust which cools the crown of its architect, a warmth of security and peace that it bequests on them and a blaze of hope in a bright future which illuminates the canvass of the earth.”

 

Advertisements

Author: seagullnic

Writer, editor, lecturer and part-time musician. Passions in life: my family, Bob Dylan, music of many genres, Brighton and Hove Albion FC, cooking plus good food and wine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s