June 3, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 727

Iranian Leader: 'The Source of Human Torment and Suffering is Liberal Democracy'; Iranian President: 'The Root of All Terrorist Activity is the Violence of the Superpowers'

June 3, 2004
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 727

Recently, several high-ranking Iranian leaders, among them Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Muhammad Khatami, expressed views on the achievements of Iran's Islamic Revolution and the legacy of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, and on the relationship between Islam and Western culture and values. Both men attacked the U.S. for its handling of affairs in Iraq. Along with stressing the need to instill Ayatollah Khomeini's legacy among the younger Iranians who never knew him, Iranian Leader Ali Khameneistated that not only is Khomeini's political thought appropriate for all of humanity's needs, but that the source of human suffering is "liberal democracy." Khamenei attacked the U.S. and stated that the reason for the "disgrace" (that is, the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghureib prison) was that "liberal democracy is devoid of morality." In contrast, Iranian President Muhammad Khatamiexpressed his support for borrowing from Western values and blending them into Islamic culture. At the same time, however, Khatami stated that the root of all terrorism is superpower violence.

The following are statements by these high-ranking Iranian leaders, as well as by Iranian Culture and Guidance Minister Ahmad Masjid-Jama'i:

Khamenei: 'Liberal Democracy is Devoid of Morality'

In an address to the organizers of the annual ceremony commemorating the 1989 death of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that "[Ayatollah Khomeini's] thought corresponded to the Islamic political thought, which he defined as the pure Islam of the Prophet Muhammad." Khamenei stressed the need for instilling Khomeini's doctrine in the coming generations, and said, "Loving the Imam Khomeini without understanding his political thought is inconceivable… Despite the propaganda [against Khomeini's thought by his opponents], his political thought is appropriate to humanity's primary needs, because the source of all human torment and suffering is the 'liberal democracy' promoted by the West as 'progressive political thought.'

"The torment of the Iraqis, of the Palestinians, and even of the Americans are the direct outcome of liberal Western democracy, and this must serve as an important lesson to the rest of the world, [which must] open its eyes and understand that those who call themselves advocates of human rights and democracy are in fact the main supporters of crimes against humanity… The reason for [this] disgrace [i.e. Abu Ghureib] is [the fact that] liberal democracy is devoid of morality, while the political thought of Imam Khomeini respected morality in addition to democracy, and at the same time pinned its hopes on God." [1]

Khatami: 'Islam Encourages Emulating Others Without Losing Islamic Identity… We Can Use the Concepts of the West'

At the International Conference on the Islamic Republic and Future Outlook, held in Tehran, Iranian President Muhammad Khatamisaid, "Islam encourages people to emulate others without losing their Islamic identity. Thus, we can make use of the achievements of the West, and overcome our shortcomings in various areas…" He added, "We must defend the principle of democracy, which is one of the goals of the Islamic Revolution. This is because defending Islam does not mean rejecting democracy and freedom." [2]

Unlike Khatami, who spoke in favor or borrowing Western values and integrating them into Islamic culture, Iranian Culture and Guidance Minister Ahmad Masjid-Jama'i said, also at the conference, that "the Islamic Republic regime is a great political phenomenon of the contemporary world, and a living example of the defeat of Western methods and ideas."

Masjid-Jama'i: 'Islamism is the Core of the Iranian Revolution'

Masjid-Jama'i added, "The [Islamic] Revolution took place at a time when it was thought that all the countries in the region were going through a similar phase and in line with the historic changes in the Western world. Based on such a vision, it was speculated that acceptance of modern Western values and abandonment of traditional beliefs would ultimately pave the ground for injecting modern Western methods into the East…

"Many researchers are of the opinion that Islamism is the core of the Iranian revolution, and not just a slogan, because it has a profound influence on the overall framework of the revolution… The Islamic Revolution is a front-runner for many other social and political movements in the world, an international current that aims to safeguard and preserve national identity and tradition based on culture. That is why today Islam is needed, because it is a well-built pillar that strongly safeguards and preserves the national identity and nobility." [3]

'One Day the U.S. Too Will Be History'

Iranian Leader Ali Khameneisaid that the U.S. is contemptuous of Islam and the sensitivities of the Muslims "because the Americans are convinced that they will easily win the war in Iraq. But they will not see that day. As the Imam [Khomeini] said, 'One day the U.S. too will be history.' In light of what happened in Iraq, we can see now that he is right, because such events move the U.S. down the slope, and they will taste the bitterness of sure defeat." [4]

Khamenei condemned the "desecration being carried out by the Americans in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq," and said, "the Muslims will not continue to remain silent in the face of such aggression." [5]

Iranian President Muhammad Khatamisaid, "We condemn all forms of violence, but we must understand that the roots of all terrorist activity lie in the violence of the superpowers… It is regrettable that they accuse the [Islamic] religion, civilization, and culture of violence and narrow-mindedness. Nevertheless, I do not deny that there are radicals among the Muslims, or other people in other societies, who act only by violent means. But it must be understood that the spirit of Islam does not preach violence." [6]

[1] Aftab-e Yazd, Jomhour-e Eslami, (Iran), May 20, 2004.

[2] Aftab-e Yazd, (Iran), May 19, 2004.

[3] Iran Daily (Iran), May 18, 2004.

[4] Aftab-e Yazd, Jomhour-e Eslami (Iran), May 20, 2004.

[5] Jomhour-e Eslami (Iran), May 17, 2004.

[6] Aftab-e Yazd, (Iran), May 19, 2004.

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