Iran’s supreme leader asked that Islam be considered without any prejudice and warned about portraying terrorists as representatives of the religion in a message aimed at European and North American youth.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the current image of Islam in the Western world was of a “horrible enemy,” which would thereby provoke horror and hatred. After recalling the long list of attempts in the political history of the “West” to depict the religion this way, he evoked the recent events that occurred in France, as well as in other Western countries, which motivated him make the declarations.
“Now I would like you to ask yourselves why the old policy of diffusion of 'phobia' and hatred has focused on Islam and the Muslims with an unprecedented intensity,” said Khamenei, suggesting that it was in the interests of world superpowers to marginalize Muslim thought.
He encouraged the youth of the Western world to study and investigate such things on their own, and to obtain a direct and first-hand knowledge of the religion in order to fight prejudices and fear.
“I will not insist so you accept my -or whoever else's- interpretation of Islam,” he added. “Do not allow your own terrorists to present themselves, in a hypocritical way, as representatives of Islam,” said Khamenei, recalling the humanist and ethical founding principles of the religion. “Have you ever asked yourselves how the values established in the Koran have led to the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world ... through several centuries?”
He warned of the danger of allowing the media to create “an emotional abyss” between reality and its representation.
On the same day, the president of the Iranian assembly, Ali Lariyani, said that the Muslim world advocated peace and security in the world at the 10th Conference of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OCI) in Istanbul, Turkey.
“The damages of the economic crisis rooted in the economic issues of Western countries are also affecting the Muslim ones,” Lariyani added. “Democracy, independence, and recovery of the Muslim identity are the main demands of the Muslim peoples.”
Although the religious disputes inside the Muslim world have affected its unity, the legislator recalled that the distinct branches of Islam shared the same book, the Quran, and followed the same prophet, Muhammad. He argued that religious disputes are not related to the doctrine, but have been generated by the interventions of Western countries over the past decade, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, by extending terrorism to the whole Middle East under the pretext of fighting terrorism, he argued.