The following are excerpts from a speech by Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Channel 1, Iranian TV aired this speech on February 13, 2005:
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami: It will be impossible to establish democracy here without the help of Islam. Not only is it impossible to establish a non-religious democracy but we don't want it. The majority of our society doesn't want it either.
You are entitled to ask why there has been no progress on the issues I've been raising. This is true. Many of our mottos have not been realized. But does this mean retreat? But does this mean I have backed down? Am I supposed to declare war against a regime that I accept in principle? I believe that if this regime is gone, it is not at all clear what will follow it - regardless of my religious belief. The people who want to change the constitution and the regime – can they guarantee that once the current regime is gone, Western-style democracy will be established here? Such a thing is impossible. With what public? With what faith? With what support? When there is no global support, will we ask for the support of the US and the others, in order to establish democracy here? After all, America is interested in controlling the world. America protects the most reactionary regimes in the world. They are its allies.
I'm not claiming that the Islamic Republic is faultless. I'm not claiming that there are no human rights violations in some places. I'm not claiming that writers and journalists are always treated justly. I'm not claiming that our situation is ideal, from the Islamic point of view. But this I say, loud and clear: Even by current standards, we are better off than all our neighbors. Furthermore, our people is undergoing a new experience of Islam. In contrast to the Islam of the Taliban, It wants to establish democracy. This regime is being attacked on all fronts by America. So those who oppose this regime and want America's support... We see everything the US is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan today. it claims that it wants to devour the entire world. Do they want to create democracy here?! For me backing down means joining these people and joining the opinion of… No, not the public opinion… It means I should join the pressure against the Islamic Republic in order to make it disappear. If, indeed, the Islamic Republic is gone, democratic rule will not be established in this country.