"I want you the youth to lay the foundations for a correct and honorable interaction with the Islamic world based on correct understanding, deep insight and lessons learned from horrible experiences."
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
To the Youth in Western Countries,
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 person anywhere in the world causes sorrow for a human being. The scene 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 a spectator who does not know that in few seconds he will be witnessing the last act in his life’s play - these are scenes that rouse the emotions and feelings of any human being.
Anyone who appreciates love and humanity has been impressed and touched by witnessing such scenes- whether it occurs in France or in Palestine or Iraq or Lebanon or Syria.
No doubt the one-and-a-half billion Muslims also have these feelings. They repudiate and abhor the perpetrators of such tragedies. 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 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 block the misguided path that has brought the west to take such stance (anti-Islam positions).
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 differ 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 and for a longer period of time. Second, 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, strengthening and arming al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their inauspicious successors. Besides this direct support, the states which are well-known for supporting this Takfiri terrorism, and despite having the most backward political systems, are standing arrayed as allies of the west. Meanwhile, the most pioneering and brightest movements which come from the active democrats in the region are mercilessly suppressed.
The duplicity adopted by the west in dealing with the awakening movement in the Islamic world is an illustrative example of the contradictory western policies.
The other face of this contradiction is represented by supporting the state terrorism carried out by the Zionist entity. The oppressed people of Palestine have experienced the worst kind of terrorism for the last sixty years. If the people of Europe have now taken refuge in their homes for a few days and have refrained from being present in crowded places, a Palestinian family has not been secure for decades even in its own home because of 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 everyday demolishes the homes of Palestinians and destroys their orchards and farms, without being seriously slammed by its influential allies or even by the so-called independent international organizations. 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 you know about such violence on this scale 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 it? Is it right not to consider this barbarism extremism just because it is being carried out by the armed forces of an occupying government? Or maybe only because these scenes have been repeatedly seen on television screens for sixty 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 falsification and deception, a mentality which is expert in 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. As long as double-standards dominate western policies, terrorism- in the view of its powerful supporters- is divided into “good” and “bad” types, and as long as 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. These cultures have for centuries nurtured human societies, through development and regeneration. The Islamic world is not an exception.
However in the current era, the western world is insisting, and with the use of advanced tools, 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 its most honored aspects, is occurring while the alternative culture being offered cannot in no way replace the original culture. For example, the “uproar” and “moral disintegration” which unfortunately have become the main elements of western culture, have degraded its status and the extent of its acceptability even in its native region.
So now the question is: are we “sinners” for 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.
We have to state with full regret that vile groups such as ISIL (so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) are the result of such ill-fated pairings with imported cultures. If the matter was simply ideological, we would have had to witness such phenomena before the colonialist era, yet history shows the contrary. Credible historical records clearly show how the concurrence between colonialism and a rejected extremist thought, which was originated in the heart of a Bedouin tribe, planted the seed of extremism in the region. How then is it possible that such garbage as ISIL 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 whole of humanity?
One has to ask why people who are born in Europe and who have been intellectually and mentally raised in that environment are attracted to such groups? Can we really believe that people who visited war zones once or twice, suddenly become so extreme that they can riddle the bodies of their compatriots with bullets? We certainly cannot forget the influence of improper cultural education in a corrupt environment that produces violence. In this context, we should reach a comprehensive analysis that highlights the hidden and apparent problems in a society. Maybe the deep hatred planted in the hearts of the western people during the years of economic and industrial growth, inequality and possibly legal and structural prejudice have all created complexes and knots that emerge from time to time.
Anyway, you are the ones who have to get into your society and uncover the knots in order to confront them. Fissures have to be sealed, not deepened. The major mistake while countering terrorism is the hasty reaction since it only widens the chasms. Any rushed and emotional reaction 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 individuals. Such behavior would lead to deprive these people of their basic rights, something which has already happened and which would drive them away from society. These reactions won’t solve the problem, and actually they will increase the chasms and resentments.
Superficial and emotional measures, especially if they take legal forms, will do nothing but increase the current polarizations and open the way for other crises in the future. According to reports received, some countries in Europe have issued guidelines encouraging citizens to spy on Muslims. This behavior is unjust and we all know that the oppression has reversible repercussions whether we like this or not. Besides, the Muslims do not deserve such ill-treatment. For centuries, the western world has known Muslims very well.
The day westerners were guests in the Islamic lands and were attracted to the riches… 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 the youth to lay the foundations for a correct and honorable interaction with the Islamic world based on correct understanding, deep insight and lessons learned from horrible experiences.
In this case, you will see, and in the near future, that such foundations will promote confidence and trust (between Muslims and the west) as well as security and peace, something which will give hope in a bright future on the earth.
Sayyed Ali Khamenei
29th of Nov, 2015
Edited by al-Manar local editor