29 Nov 06 Message by the Iranian
President to the American People
28 Aug 06 Letter by Iranian President to German Chancellor
28 Aug 06 Ahmadinejad: Iran not after acquiring nuclear weapons
6 Sep 06 Zoroastrians Keep the Faith, and Keep Dwindling, NYT, LAURIE GOODSTEIN
18 June 06 Extremist Image Masks Iranians' Many Faiths, Washington Post , Karl Vick
8 May 06 Letter by Iran President to American President
14 Aug 95 Christians as a Religious Minority in Iran (I.C.E.S.C. testimony), Father N.A.G. Topouzian
La lettre de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad à George
LEMONDE.FR | 09.05.06 | 19h27 • Mis à jour le 09.05.06 | 19h30
Mr. George Bush, President of the United States of America
For sometime now I have been thinking, how one
can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international
arena -- which are being constantly debated, especially in political forums
and amongst university students. Many questions remain unanswered. These
have prompted me to discuss some of the contradictions and questions, in
the hopes that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them.
Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God,
Feel obliged to respect human rights,
Present liberalism as a civilization model,
Announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs,
Make “War on Terror” his slogan, And finally,
Work towards the establishment of a unified international community – a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern,
But at the same time,
Have countries attacked. The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the presence of a few criminals in a village, city, or convoy for example, the entire village, city or convoy set ablaze.
Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around one hundred thousand people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens broken, and the country pushed back perhaps fifty years. At what price? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent from the treasury of one country and certain other countries and tens of thousands of young men and women – as occupation troops – put in harms way, taken away from family and loved ones, their hands stained with the blood of others, subjected to so much psychological pressure that everyday some commit suicide and those returning home suffer depression, become sickly and grapple with all sorts of ailments; while some are killed and their bodies handed to their families.
On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with.
Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was toppled along the way towards another goal; nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of the imposed war on Iran Saddam was supported by the West.
You might know that I am a teacher. My students
ask me how can these actions be reconciled with the values outlined at
the beginning of this letter and duty to the tradition of Jesus Christ
(PBUH), the Messenger of peace and forgiveness?
There are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that have not been tried, have no legal representation, their families cannot see them and are obviously kept in a strange land outside their own country. There is no international monitoring of their conditions and fate. No one knows whether they are prisoners, POWs, accused or criminals.
European investigators have confirmed the existence of secret prisons in Europe too. I could not correlate the abduction of a person, and him or her being kept in secret prisons, with the provisions of any judicial system. For that matter, I fail to understand how such actions correspond to the values outlined in the beginning of this letter, i.e. the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH), human rights and liberal values.
Young people, university students, and ordinary people have many questions about the phenomenon of Israel. I am sure you are familiar with some of them.
Throughout history many countries have been occupied, but I think the establishment of a new country with a new people, is a new phenomenon that is exclusive to our times.
Students are saying that sixty years ago such a country did not exist. They show old documents and globes and say try as we have, we have not been able to find a country named Israel.
I tell them to study the history of WWI and II. One of my students told me that during WWII, which more than tens of millions of people perished in, news about the war, was quickly disseminated by the warring parties. Each touted their victories and the most recent battlefront defeat of the other party. After the war they claimed that six million Jews had been killed. Six million people that were surely related to at least two million families.
Again let us assume that these events are true. Does that logically translate into the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state? How can this phenomenon be rationalized or explained?
I am sure you know how – and at what cost
– Israel was established:
- Many thousands were killed in the process.
- Millions of indigenous people were made refugees.
- Hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland, olive plantations, townsand villages were destroyed.
This tragedy is not exclusive to the time of establishment; unfortunately it has been ongoing for sixty years now.
A regime has been established which does not show mercy even to kids, destroys houses while the occupants are still in them, announces beforehand its list and plans to assassinate Palestinian figures, and keeps thousands of Palestinians in prison. Such a phenomenon is unique – or at the very least extremely rare – in recent memory.
Another big question asked by the people is “why is this regime being supported?”
Is support for this regime in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH) or Moses (PBUH) or liberal values?
Or are we to understand that allowing the original inhabitants of these lands – inside and outside Palestine -- whether they are Christian, Moslem or Jew, to determine their fate, runs contrary to principles of democracy, human rights and the teachings of prophets? If not, why is there so much opposition to a referendum?
The newly elected Palestinian administration recently took office. All independent observes have confirmed that this government represents the electorate. Unbelievingly, they have put the elected government under pressure and have advised it to recognize the Israeli regime, abandon the struggle and follow the programs of the previous government.
If the current Palestinian government had run on the above platform, would the Palestinian people have voted for it? Again, can such position taken in opposition to the Palestinian government be reconciled with the values outlined earlier? The people are also asking “why are all UNSC resolutions in condemnation of Israel vetoed?”
As you are well aware, I live amongst the
people and am in constant contact with them -- many people from around
the Middle East manage to contact me as well. They do not have faith in
these dubious policies either. There is evidence that the people of the
region are becoming increasingly angry with such policies.
It is not my intention to pose too many questions, but I need to refer to other points as well.
Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime? Is not scientific R&D one of the basic rights of nations?
You are familiar with history. Aside from the Middle Ages, in what other point in history has scientific and technical progress been a crime? Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilized for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether? If such a supposition is true, then all scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc. must be opposed.
Lies were told in the Iraqi matter. What was the result? I have no doubt that telling lies is reprehensible in any culture, and you do not like to be lied to.
Don’t Latin Americans have the right to
ask why their elected governments are being opposed and coup leaders supported?
Or, Why must they constantly be threatened and live in fear?
The people of Africa are hardworking, creative and talented. They can play an important and valuable role in providing for the needs of humanity and contribute to its material and spiritual progress. Poverty and hardship in large parts of Africa are preventing this from happening. Don’t they have the right to ask why their enormous wealth – including minerals – is being looted, despite the fact that they need it more than others?
Again, do such actions correspond to the teachings Of Christ and the tenets of human rights?
The brave and faithful people of Iran too have many questions and grievances, including: the coup d’etat of 1953 and the subsequent toppling of the legal government of the day, opposition to the Islamic revolution, transformation of an Embassy into a headquarters supporting the activities of those opposing the Islamic Republic (many thousands of pages of documents corroborate this claim), support for Saddam in the war waged against Iran, the shooting down of the Iranian passenger plane, freezing the assets of the Iranian nation, increasing threats, anger and displeasure vis-à-vis the scientific and nuclear progress of the Iranian nation (just when all Iranians are jubilant and celebrating their country’s progress), and many other grievances that I will not refer to in this letter.
September Eleven was a horrendous incident.
The killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the
world. Our government immediately declared its disgust with the perpetrators
and offered its condolences to the bereaved and expressed its sympathies.
All governments have a duty to protect the lives, property and good standing of their citizens. Reportedly your government employs extensive security, protection and intelligence systems – and even hunts its opponents abroad. September eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess. Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren’t those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?
All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens. For some years now, the people of your country and neighbors of world trouble spots do not have peace of mind. After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people -- who had been immensely traumatized by the attacks -- some Western media only intensified the climate of fear and insecurity – some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?
American citizens lived in constant fear of fresh attacks that could come at any moment and in any place. They felt insecure in the streets, in their place of work and at home. Who would be happy with this situation? Why was the media, instead of conveying a feeling of security and providing peace of mind, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity?
Some believe that the hype paved the way -- and was the justification --for an attack on Afghanistan. Again I need to refer to the role of media.
In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are established tenets. I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western media for these principles. The main pretext for an attack on Iraq was the existence of WMDs. This was repeated incessantly -- for the public to finally believe -- and the ground set for an attack on Iraq.
Will the truth not be lost in a contrived and deceptive climate?
Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier mentioned values?
Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?
In countries around the world, citizens
provide for the expenses of governments so that their governments in turn
are able to serve them.
The question here is “what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?”
As Your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty. Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these problems exist – to a larger or lesser extent -- in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign – paid from the public treasury – be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?
What has been said, are some of the grievances of the people around the world, in our region and in your country. But my main contention – which I am hoping you will agree to some of it – is:
Those in power have a specific time in office and do not rule indefinitely, but their names will be recorded in history and will be constantly judged in the immediate and distant futures.
The people will scrutinize our presidencies.
Did we mange to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and unemployment?
Did we intend to establish justice or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful -- thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs’?
Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them?
Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them?
Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats?
Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted version of it?
Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors?
Did our administrations set out to promote rational behavior, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignity or the force of guns,
Intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of other nations, and trample on people’s rights?
And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets -- or not?
How much longer can the world tolerate this situation?
Where will this trend lead the world to?
How long must the people of the world pay for the incorrect decisions of some rulers?
How much longer will the specter of insecurity – raised from the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction -- hunt the people of the world?
How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people’s houses destroyed over their heads?
Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?
Do you think present policies can continue?
If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production, development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between disputing states, and extinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts, were would the world be today? Would not your government and people be justifiably proud?
Would not your administration’s political and economic standing have been stronger?
And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American government?
Mr. President, it is not my intention to distress anyone.
If Prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Joseph, or Jesus Christ (PBUH) were with us today, how would they have judged such behavior? Will we be given a role to play in the promised world, where justice will become universal and Jesus Christ (PBUH) will be present? Will they even accept us?
My basic question is this: Is there no better way to interact with the rest of the world? Today there are hundreds of millions of Christians, hundreds of millions of Moslems and millions of people who follow the teachings of Moses (PBUH). All divine religions share and respect one word and that is “monotheism” or belief in a single God and no other in the world.
The Holy Koran stresses this common word and calls on all followers of divine religions and says: [3.64] Say: O followers of the Book! come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught with Him, and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah; but if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims. (The Family of Imran)
According to divine verses, we have all been called upon to worship one God and follow the teachings of divine Prophets.
“To worship a God which is above all powers in the world and can do all He pleases.” “the Lord which knows that which is hidden and visible, the past and the future, knows what goes on in the Hearts of His servants and records their deeds.”
“The Lord who is the possessor of the heavens and the earth and all universe is His court” “planning for the universe is done by His hands, and gives His servants the glad tidings of mercy and forgiveness of sins” “He is the companion of the oppressed and the enemy of oppressors” “He is the Compassionate, the Merciful” “He is the recourse of the faithful and guides them towards the light from darkness” “He is witness to the actions of His servants” “He calls on servants to be faithful and do good deeds, and asks them to stay on the path of righteousness and remain steadfast” “Calls on servants to heed His prophets and He is a witness to their deeds” “A bad ending belongs only to those who have chosen the life of this world and disobey Him and oppress His servants” and “A good end and eternal paradise belong to those servants who fear His majesty and do not follow their lascivious selves.”
We believe a return to the teachings of
the divine prophets is the only road leading to salvation. I have been
told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (PBUH) and believes
in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth.
We also believe that Jesus Christ (PBUH) was one of the great prophets of the Almighty. He has been repeatedly praised in the Koran. Jesus (PBUH) has been quoted in Koran as well: [19.36] And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serve Him; this is the right path. Marium
Service to and obedience of the Almighty is the credo of all divine messengers.
The God of all people in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, the Pacific and the rest of the world is one. He is the Almighty who wants to guide and give dignity to all His servants. He has given greatness to Humans.
We again read in the Holy Book: “The Almighty God sent His prophets with miracles and clear signs to guide the people and show them divine signs and purify them from sins and pollutions. And He sent the Book and the balance so that the people display justice and avoid the rebellious”.
All of the above verses can be seen, one way or the other, in the Good Book as well.
Divine prophets have promised:
The day will come when all humans will congregate before the court of the Almighty, so that their deeds are examined. The good will be directed towards Haven and evildoers will meet divine retribution. I trust both of us believe in such a day, but it will not be easy to calculate the actions of rulers, because we must be answerable to our nations and all others whose lives have been directly or indirectly affected by our actions.
All prophets, speak of peace and tranquility for man -- based on monotheism, justice and respect for human dignity.
Do you not think that if all of us come
to believe in and abide by these principles, that is, monotheism, worship
of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day,
we can overcome the present problems of the world -- that are the result
of disobedience to the Almighty and the teachings of prophets – and improve
Do you not think that belief in these principles promotes and guarantees peace, friendship and justice?
Do you not think that the aforementioned written or unwritten principles are universally respected?
Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets?
History tells us that repressive and cruel
governments do not survive. God has entrusted the fate of men to them.
The Almighty has not left the universe and humanity to their own devices.
Many things have happened contrary to the wishes and plans of governments.
These tell us that there is a higher power at work and all events are determined
Can one deny the signs of change in the world today?
Is the situation of the world today comparable to that of ten years ago? Changes happen fast and come at a furious pace.
The people of the world are not happy with the status quo and pay little heed to the promises and comments made by a number of influential world leaders. Many people around the world feel insecure and oppose the spreading of insecurity and war and do not approve of and accept dubious policies.
The people are protesting the increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots and the rich and poor countries.
The people are disgusted with increasing corruption.
The people of many countries are angry about the attacks on their cultural foundations and the disintegration of families. They are equally dismayed with the fading of care and compassion. The people of the world have no faith in international organizations, because their rights are not advocated by these organizations.
Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems.
We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point -- that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is: “Do you not want to join them?”
Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating
towards faith in the
Almighty and justice and the will of God will prevail over all things.
Vasalam Ala Man Ataba’al hoda
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Extremist Image Masks Iranians' Many Faiths
Some Religious Minorities See Increase in Harassment
By Karl Vick
YAZD, Iran -- The legend describes one cloud of dust chasing another across the epic desert landscape. Arab horsemen were gaining on the Iranian princess, it is said, when she reached the looming cliffs, slipped into a seam in the rock and disappeared forever.
As told by followers of the Zoroastrian faith that was on the run along with the princess, the tale nurtures not so much hope for the return of royalty as the survival of minority religions. In a country whose government is based on the Islamic faith that Arabs carried to the Persian plateau, that survival is enshrined in law. The same constitution that created the Islamic Republic of Iran explicitly protects three other faiths: Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism.
But how their followers, especially Jews, fare provides both a barometer of actual religious tolerance in Iran and a window into a national culture with shadings far more subtle than the extremist caricature its leaders both decry and occasionally encourage.
Iran's Muslim theocracy reserves one parliamentary seat each for Jews, Zoroastrians and Assyrian Christians, and two for members of the Armenian Orthodox community. The slots reflect both respect for Zoroastrian's deep roots in Persia, and for the faiths that, like Islam, trace their origins to Abraham.
"They are the roots; we are the branches," said Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
That protection does not appear to extend to the Bahai, who practice a faith the government regards as heretical. Human rights groups have documented scores of cases of persecution, including executions. Last month, 54 Bahai youths were arrested in the southern city of Shiraz, where the faith originated in the 19th century.
In addition, some Iranian Jews complain of occasional harassment since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad focused new wrath on Israel.
When Ahmadinejad expressed doubts in December that the Holocaust occurred, Moris Motamed called a news conference in his role as the member of parliament representing Iranian Jews. "I said this kind of comment is a way of insulting the Jewish community as a whole, not only inside Iran," Motamed recalled in an interview.
Iranian officials emphasize that Iran objects not to Judaism but to Zionism, the effort to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Yet in Tehran, Jews say Ahmadinejad's rhetoric has prompted threats not heard in more than 15 years.
"No, not ordinary people, but mostly the Basij," said a Jewish shopkeeper, saying the harassment came from the paramilitary from which Ahmadinejad emerged. "The thing they usually say is 'dirty Jew.' But I believe these people are insane. They're not real people."
The businessman, who asked not to be identified for his own security, said he expected no physical attack unless Israel launched a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Nothing can be compared to the first years of the revolution," the businessman said, when religious minorities were jailed and executed along with communists, royalists and others deemed threats to the nascent government.
Motamed said he had received few complaints and was working with Ahmadinejad's government to follow through with a deal negotiated under his predecessor, former president Mohammad Khatami, to permit Iranian Jews to travel to Israel for Jewish holidays. He said police responded "right away" a week earlier when a Tehran Jew reported being threatened. "And I say this with confidence: If the same thing happened with Muslims, the police would not have been as quick to act."
The situation of Christians appears more elusive.
"Excellent!" said a middle-aged woman waiting outside St. Sarkis Church, the Armenian Orthodox headquarters where officials twice declined requests for an interview.
"We have many problems," said the man next to her, who gave only a first name, Patrick. "Everyone has problems, but for Christians it's harder than others." Like other Christians who spoke privately, he complained that government jobs are off-limits.
"Thank you," said the woman, growing agitated. "We go."
Numbers tell at least part of the story. Since the 1979 revolution, Iran's Jewish population has dropped from more than 100,000 to perhaps 25,000, Christians from 300,000 to around 100,000.
But some say the exodus reflects less specific persecution than the opportunity to escape a country where almost everyone was being made miserable. The religious minorities, with concerned sponsors offering relocation funds, had a way out.
"Whatever the government does, they do it to all of us," said Ardeshir Bahrami, 64, a Zoroastrian in Yazd.
Zoroastrians appear to enjoy the most respect inside Iran, for reasons extending into the country's 2,500-year history. The faith claims to be the first to recognize a single, omniscient god. Until its founder, Zoroaster, emerged as early as the 14th century B.C. -- the date is disputed -- people were paying tributes to pagan gods and grappling fearfully with questions of cause and effect.
Zoroaster made it simple. There was good, he said, and there was bad. Darkness and light. Zoroastrianism urges following the light, symbolized in the open flame nursed for 1,536 years on the andirons in the house of worship, called a "fire temple," on Yazd's main street.
A plaque lists the creed:
"It's a simple religion," Bahrami said. "It's really not very hard to observe."
In Yazd, a pleasant, desert city in the dead center of Iran, Zoroastrians enjoy a vivid reputation for honesty. Prices in a shop owned by a Zoroastrian are regarded as the benchmark that competing shops are compared against. Children are told that when arriving in a strange town near dark, seek out a Zoroastrian home to spend the night in.
"I'm sorry to say it and it might sound offensive, but these Zoroastrians are better Muslims than we are," said Mohammad Pardehbaff, a Yazd driver.
Iranians also respect Zoroastrianism as the faith of Iran's heroic age. It was the state religion under such storied emperors as Cyrus, Xerxes and Darius, whose tombs are adorned with the Zoroastrians' distinctive symbol of a bearded man in profile between outstretched wings. The symbol is also atop a towering monument that Iran's clerical leaders erected in Yazd's Zoroastrian cemetery to honor a hero of the eight-year war with Iraq. Like others in the cemetery, the stone lists not date of death but date of "second birth."
Zoroastrians celebrate funerals as birthday parties.
"There is no mourning. If someone dies, we celebrate it, because we know what's going to happen after death," said Payman Bastani, 27. "There's nothing to worry about."
The faith was not always so simple. As the state religion, Zoroastrianism spawned a priestly class that grew less popular as it grew more corrupt. By the time the Arabs arrived with Islam, they easily swept across the country. Most Persians became Muslims -- specifically Shiites, a choice that served to differentiate Persians from the overwhelmingly Sunni Arabs.
But Zoroastrianism survived, especially in the deserts of central Iran, where the royal family was said to disappear. And as it returned to its essence, it also emerged as an example to faiths supposedly fueling a clash of civilizations. "This is exactly what we believe," Bastani said. "Religion is not here to complicate your life. It's all about simplicity. God created it to give comfort to human beings, not to frustrate everyone."
Yet Zoroastrians are leaving Iran as well; perhaps 10,000 remain. In Taft, 10 miles south of Yazd, only the elderly linger in the mud-walled warren of houses identifiable as Zoroastrian by the tiny oil lamps burning in glass cases fitted into walls. "It's like we have leprosy, the way they've evacuated!" said Ardeshir Rostami, 83.
"I believe all religions -- Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism -- are saying the same thing," Rostami said. "It's the deeds of the people that make them seem evil."
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
Zoroastrians Keep the Faith, and Keep Dwindling
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
BURR RIDGE, Ill. — In his day job, Kersey H. Antia is a psychologist who specializes in panic disorders. In his private life, Mr. Antia dons a long white robe, slips a veil over his face and goes to work as a Zoroastrian priest, performing rituals passed down through a patrilineal chain of priests stretching back to ancient Persia.
After a service for the dead in which priests fed sticks of sandalwood and pinches of frankincense into a blazing urn, Mr. Antia surveyed the Zoroastrian faithful of the Midwest — about 80 people in saris, suits and blue jeans.
“We were once at least 40, 50 million — can you imagine?” said Mr. Antia, senior priest at the fire temple here in suburban Chicago. “At one point we had reached the pinnacle of glory of the Persian Empire and had a beautiful religious philosophy that governed the Persian kings.
“Where are we now? Completely wiped out,” he said. “It pains me to say, in 100 years we won’t have many Zoroastrians.”
There is a palpable panic among Zoroastrians today — not only in the United States, but also around the world — that they are fighting the extinction of their faith, a monotheistic religion that most scholars say is at least 3,000 years old.
Zoroastrianism predates Christianity and Islam, and many historians say it influenced those faiths and cross-fertilized Judaism as well, with its doctrines of one God, a dualistic universe of good and evil and a final day of judgment.
While Zoroastrians once dominated an area stretching from what is now Rome and Greece to India and Russia, their global population has dwindled to 190,000 at most, and perhaps as few as 124,000, according to a survey in 2004 by Fezana Journal, published quarterly by the Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America. The number is imprecise because of wildly diverging counts in Iran, once known as Persia — the incubator of the faith.
“Survival has become a community obsession,” said Dina McIntyre, an Indian-American lawyer in Chesapeake, Va., who has written and lectured widely on her religion.
The Zoroastrians’ mobility and adaptability has contributed to their demographic crisis. They assimilate and intermarry, virtually disappearing into their adopted cultures. And since the faith encourages opportunities for women, many Zoroastrian women are working professionals who, like many other professional women, have few children or none.
Despite their shrinking numbers, Zoroastrians — who follow the Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek) — are divided over whether to accept intermarried families and converts and what defines a Zoroastrian. An effort to create a global organizing body fell apart two years ago after some priests accused the organizers of embracing “fake converts” and diluting traditions.
“They feel that the religion is not universal and is ethnic in nature, and that it should be kept within the tribe,” said Jehan Bagli, a retired chemist in Toronto who is a priest, or mobed, and president of the North American Mobed Council, which includes about 100 priests. “This is a tendency that to me sometimes appears suicidal. And they are prepared to make that sacrifice.”
In South Africa, the last Zoroastrian priest recently died, and there is no one left to officiate at ceremonies, said Rohinton Rivetna, a Zoroastrian leader in Chicago who, with his wife, Roshan, was a principal mover behind the failed effort to organize a global body. But they have not given up.
“We have to be working together if we are going to survive,” Mr. Rivetna said.
Although the collective picture is bleak, most individual Zoroastrians appear to be thriving. They are well-educated and well-traveled professionals, earning incomes that place them in the middle and upper classes of the countries where they or their families settled after leaving their homelands in Iran and India. About 11,000 Zoroastrians live in the United States, 6,000 in Canada, 5,000 in England, 2,700 in Australia and 2,200 in the Persian Gulf nations, according to the Fezana Journal survey.
This is the second major exodus in Zoroastrian history. In Iran, after Muslims rose to power in the seventh century A.D., historians say the Zoroastrian population was decimated by massacres, persecution and conversions to Islam. Seven boatloads of Zoroastrian refugees fled Iran and landed on the coast of India in 936. Their descendants, known as Parsis, built Mumbai, formerly Bombay, into the world capital of Zoroastrianism.
The Zoroastrian magazine Parsiana publishes charts each month tracking births, deaths and marriages. Leaders fret over the reports from Mumbai, where deaths outnumber births six to one. The intermarriage rate there has risen to about one in three. The picture in North America is more hopeful: about 1.5 births for one death. But the intermarriage rate in North America is now nearly 50 percent.
Soli Dastur, an exuberant priest who lives in Florida, is among the first generation of immigrants who started the trend. Mr. Dastur grew up in a village outside Mumbai, where his father was a priest, the fire temple was the center of town and his whole world was Zoroastrian.
He arrived in Evanston, Ill., in 1960, where he knew of no other Zoroastrians, to attend college on a scholarship provided by one of the Parsi endowments in Mumbai, which have since provided scholarships to many others. He earned a Ph.D., worked as a chemical engineer and married an American Roman Catholic he met on a blind date 40 years ago.
Mr. Dastur is a priest in much demand to perform ceremonies because of his melodic chanting of the prayers. He and his wife, Jo Ann, have two grown daughters. Neither married a Zoroastrian.
“They’re good human beings,” Mr. Dastur said. “That’s more important to me.”
The very tenets of Zoroastrianism could be feeding its demise, many adherents said in interviews. Zoroastrians believe in free will, so in matters of religion they do not believe in compulsion. They do not proselytize. They can pray at home instead of going to a temple. While there are priests, there is no hierarchy to set policy. And their basic doctrine is a universal ethical precept: “good thoughts, good words, good deeds.”
“That’s what I take away from Zoroastrianism,” said Tenaz Dubash, a filmmaker in New York City who is making a documentary about the future of her faith, “that I’m a cerebral, thinking human being, and I need to think for myself.”
Ferzin Patel, who runs a support group for 20 intermarried couples in New York, said that while the Zoroastrians in the group adored their faith and wanted to teach it to their children, they in no way wanted to compel their spouses to convert.
“In the intermarriage group, I don’t think anyone feels that someone should forfeit their religion just for Zoroastrianism,” Ms. Patel said.
Despite, or because of, the high intermarriage rate, some Zoroastrian priests refuse to accept converts or to perform initiation ceremonies for adopted children or the children of intermarried couples, especially when the father is not Zoroastrian. The ban on these practices is far stronger in India and Iran than in North America.
“As soon as you do it, you start diluting your ethnicity, and one generation has an intermarriage, and the next generation has more dilution and the customs become all fuzzy and they eventually disappear,” said Jal N. Birdy, a priest in Corona, Calif., who will not perform weddings of mixed couples. “That would destroy my community, which is why I won’t do it.”
The North American Mobed Council is so divided on the issue of accepting intermarried spouses and children that it has been unable to take a position, said Mr. Bagli, the council’s president. He supports accepting converts because he said he can find no ban in Zoroastrian texts, but he estimated that as many as 40 percent of the priests in his group were opposed.
The peril and the hope for Zoroastrianism are embodied in a child of the diaspora, Rohena Elavia Ullal, 27, a physical therapist in suburban Chicago.
Ms. Ullal knew from an early age that her parents wanted her to marry another Zoroastrian. Her mother, a former board president of the Chicago temple, helped organize Sunday school classes once a month there, enticing teenagers with weekend sleepovers and roller-skating trips.
The result was a core group of close friends who felt more like cousins, Ms. Ullal said recently over breakfast.
Both of her brothers found mates at Zoroastrian youth congresses, and one is already married. Ms. Ullal stayed on the lookout.
“There were so few,” she said. “I guess you’re lucky if you find somebody. That would be the ideal.”
Ms. Ullal’s college boyfriend is also the child of Indian immigrants to the United States, but he is Hindu. [They married on Saturday and had two ceremonies — one Hindu, one Zoroastrian.] But Ms. Ullal says that before they even became engaged, they talked about her desire to raise their children as Zoroastrians.
“It’s scary; we’re dipping down in numbers,” she said. “I don’t want to hurt his parents, but he doesn’t have the kind of responsibility, whereas I do."
Letter to German Chancellor
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Her Excellency Angela Merkel
The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
Please accept my warmest greetings.
If it had it not been for Germany being a great contributor to progress
in science, philosophy, literature, arts and politics;
If it had not been for a more important and positive influence of Germany in international relations and promotion of peace;
Moreover, if it had not been for the persistence of a strong will by certain global powers and special groups to constantly portray Germany as defeated and indebted country of World War II in order to continue their extortions;
And if it had not been for the presence of Your Excellency at the top of the executive branch of your country as an experienced stateswoman with bitter and sweet experiences in two dissimilar societies with different political systems and traditions,
And at the same time, if it had not been for the advantages that are limited to women, such as stronger human sentiments and certain manifestations of the divine compassion and kindness, specially in the position of a mother and being at the service of the people, and the common responsibility of all people with faith in God to defend human dignity and worth and to prevent violations of their rights and their humiliation, and proceeding from this conviction that we are all created by the Almighty and He has bestowed upon us all dignity and no one has any special privileges over the other, and under no circumstances could a society be deprived of its rights, barred from pursuit of progress and perfection or be controlled or humiliated;
Finally, if it had not been for the oppression, however different, of our nations, our shared responsibility to promote justice as the most basic foundation for promotion of peace and human equality, I would not have found the motive to write this letter.
Rulers come and go, but people with culture and history and their attachments and desires will keep on staying. Opportunities in front of those in position of high power are transient, even if they may be vast and broad. These opportunities are very auspicious and can play a key role in the negative and positive transformations and developments of a nation.
Those in position of high power do not normally have many opportunities, but are accountable before the Almighty and people due to their high responsibility. We know this, and you know it as well.
Some of these developments can have regional, continental and global ramifications and can hardly be overlooked. For sometime I have been thinking why some nations that their history shows they have indeed had an important and prominent share and role in material and spiritual progress of mankind in various arenas of science, arts, philosophy, literature and politics and were makers of civilization are not allowed to be proud as a nation of their historical accomplishments and play their deserved and constructive role on the global arena. They try to keep the black cloud of humiliation and shame hanging over their heads. And even more regrettably, some of the leaders of such a nation regard this situation befitting them and their nation and try to justify it. This is really an astonishing phenomenon in today’s world. The propaganda machinery after World War II has been so colossal that has caused some people to believe that they are the guilty party by historical accounts and must pay the penalty fort the wrongs committed by their forefathers for successive generations and for indefinite period of time.
World War II came to an end with all its material and moral losses and its 60 million casualties. The death of human beings is tragic and sad. In all divine religions and before all awakened conscience and pure nature of mankind and the sense of right and wrong, the life, property and honour of people, regardless of their religious persuasion and ethnic background, must be respected at all times and all places.
Sixty years have passed since the end of the war. But, regrettably the entire world and some nations in particular are still facing its consequences. Even now the conduct of some bullying powers and power-seeking and aggressive groups is the conduct of victors with the vanquished. The extortion and blackmail continue, and people are not allowed to think about or even question the source of this extortion, otherwise they face imprisonment. When will this situation end? Sixty years, one hundred years or one thousand years, when? I am sorry to remind you that today the perpetual claimants against the great people of Germany are the bullying powers and the Zionists that founded the Al-Qods Occupying Regime with the force of bayonets in the Middle East.
The Honourable Chancellor
I have no intention of arguing about the Holocaust. But, does it not stand to reason that some victorious countries of World War II intended to create an alibi on the basis of which they could continue keeping the defeated nations of World War II indebted to them. Their purpose has been to weaken their morale and their inspiration in order to obstruct their progress and power. In addition to the people of Germany, the peoples of the Middle East have also borne the brunt of the Holocaust. By raising the necessity of settling the survivors of the Holocaust in the land of Palestine, they have created a permanent threat in the Middle East in order to rob the people of the region of the opportunities to achieve progress. The collective conscience of the world is indignant over the daily atrocities by the Zionist occupiers, destruction of homes and farms, killing of children, assassinations and bombardments.
Excellency, you have seen that the Zionist government does not even tolerate a government elected by the Palestinian people, and over and over again has demonstrated that it recognizes no limit in attacking the neighbouring countries.
The question is why did the victors of the war, especially England that had apparently such a strong sense of responsibility toward the survivors of the Holocaust not allow them to settle in their territory. Why did they force them to migrate to other people’s land by launching a wave of anti-Semitism? Using the excuse for the settlement of the survivors of the Holocaust, they encouraged the Jews worldwide to migrate and today a large part of the inhabitants of the occupied territories are non-European Jews. If tyranny and killing is condemned in one part of the world, can we acquiesce and go along with tyranny, killing, occupation and assassinations in another part of the world simply in order to redress the past wrongs?
We need to ask ourselves that for what purposes the millions of dollars that the Zionists receive from the treasury of some Western countries are spent for. Are they used for the promotion of peace and the well-being of the people? Or are they used for waging war against Palestinians and the neighbouring countries. Are the nuclear arsenals of Israel intended to be used in defense of the survivors of the Holocaust or as a permanent thereat against nations of the region and as an instrument of coercion, and possibly to defend the interests of certain circles of power in the Western countries.
Regrettably, the influence of the Zionists in the economy, media and some centers of political power has endangered interests of the European nations and has robbed them of many opportunities. The main alibi for this approach is the extortion they exact from the Holocaust.
One can imagine what standing some European countries could have had and what global role they could have played, if it had not been for this sixty-year old imposition.
I believe we both share the view that the flourishing of nations and their role are directly related to freedom and sense of pride. Fortunately, with all the pressures and limitations, the great nation of Germany has been able to take great strides toward advancement and has become a major economic powerhouse in Europe that also seeks to play a more effective role in international interactions. But just imagine where Germany would be today in terms of its eminence among the freedom-loving nations, Muslims of the world and peoples of Europe, if such a situation did not exist and the governments in power in Germany had said no to the extortions by the Zionists and had not supported the greatest enemy of mankind.
It is sad to admit that Europe has lost a lot of its clout in global interactions and has not been able to face and overcome major challenges by relying on itself. This is, of course, understandable. The big powers outside of the continent intend to prove that Europe cannot rely on itself and do anything without their help and intervention.
Our people have also suffered from the interventions by some of the victors of the war after World War II. For many years they interfered in our internal affairs and did not want to see our nation conquer the pinnacles of progress and perfection. They had their eyes on our natural wealth, above all on our energy resources. To secure their own interests, they overthrew the legally constituted government of the time, installed a dictatorial regime and supported it to the end. Later, they supported Saddam in the war imposed on our people and observed no humanitarian boundary in their support for the Iraqi dictator. Our nation has experienced the pain and anguish from the interferences of those who are now crying out for human rights. There are still many suffering from the wounds and injuries of this war.
Many of these aggressions have taken place by those who regard themselves the victors of the World War II. They allow themselves to do whatever they wish, and unfortunately, after the end of the Cold War, the arrogance and expansionist ambitions of these powers have escalated. We believe that still a major part of the peoples of the world and even international organizations are under the influence of the behaviour and the conduct of the victors of the World War II.
I explained the position of the people and government of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the United Nations General Assembly. Is the present state of affairs such as the rules governing the work of the Security Council, especially the right to veto, fair?
Do you not think that the time has come to change these rules in cooperation with independent governments? These rules are by no means acceptable to the collective conscience of nations and are contrary to the sense of reason and human nature. At least, if we want to be fairer, some other countries of the world should be allowed to benefit from the right to veto.
You are familiar with the pains and sufferings currently afflicting our world. Today, the pain and suffering of the people of Iraq that come from occupation, absence of security and daily acts of terrorism are tormenting the entire humanity. Relentless interferences of some bullying powers in the internal affairs of other nations, antagonism toward the inalienable rights of nations to have access to more advanced technologies, subjecting nations to permanent threats by relying on arsenals of chemical and nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, opposition to popular governments in Latin America, supporting coup d’état and dictatorial regimes, absence of due attention to Africa and taking advantage of the power vacuum there to plunder their wealth are among the problems facing our world today. In my letter to President Bush, I spelled out a long list of contemporary global problems.
Where are the roots of these problems? How long can they continue? Do you not think that the main root lies in the fact that some of the rulers and powers of today have distanced themselves from the teachings of the divine prophets, the teachings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).
These teachings are in all divine religions that you and I believe:
· God is the creator of all things and beings. We have all been created free and He has not allowed us to be the servant of anyone other than Him.
· He has commanded us to worship Him and to avoid all oppressors and tyrants.
· He has commanded us to be virtuous, to be good to and serve the people, and has directed us to be kind to and defend the oppressed and fight the oppressors.
· God has given humans dignity and scorns their humiliation.
· He has sent his messengers with clear reasons, the Book and a balance and has called on his servants to promote justice.
Based on these shared principles and foundations of our faith, we believe:
· Peace and tranquility can only be established and endure on the basis of faith in God and justice.
· Peace and dignity are the rights of all nations.
· Pursuit of progress and better livelihood combined with spirituality, compassion and well-being is the right of people.
· You and we can found a new movement to achieve these noble human ideals by relying on these principles and the articles of faith that are common to all divine religions.
Our nations believe and are committed to these pillars of faith. The history has shown that the people of Iran are not familiar with aggressing and brutalizing other nations. Nevertheless, we do not allow being the subject and victim of aggression and brutality. The experience of the eight-year war clearly demonstrated this fact to the whole world.
I believe we and you have both been the subject of tyranny. They do not respect your rights and want us also to forego our rights. Fortunately, I have heard that you also speak your mind openly and are against engendering tension and wars.
The inner instincts and nature of the peoples of the world have wakened up. Tendency toward faith in the oneness of God is on the rise. People will no longer tolerate to be tyrannized, humiliated and their rights violated. The prevailing circumstances today differ from those of yesterday. Multiple standards and approaches in relations will not endure.
Iran and Germany can play a more important role together in the international arena by relying on the noble and high values. This cooperative relationship can also enhance the role of Europe on the global scene and serve as a model of cooperation between two governments and nations. Without doubt, cooperation of two peace-loving, powerful and cultured nations of Germany and Iran will serve the interests of Europe as well. Together we must end the present abnormalities in international relations, the type of order and relations that are based on the impositions of the victors of the World War II on the defeated nations. Nations and many governments will be on our side on this path. We must make the shadow of World War II disappear and help the international community to promote security, freedom and sense of tranquility.
The people of Iran and Germany are two great nations that have contributed to the making of our civilization. They have rich culture and have been in the forefront of science, literature, arts and philosophy. Both of our people have a strong faith in God and follow the teachings of divine prophets. They have also had long-lasting scientific, cultural and commercial relations and share many valuable mutual interests.
I have no doubt that with the cooperation of the two governments and the support of the two great nations we can take great strides forward in alleviating the problems and abnormalities of our world today. Daring and courageous decisions are the key to our success in overcoming the existing problems, countering the violations of rights and defending the rights of nations. To the extent that I know of the people of Germany, they will come along and join us and want restore their dignity and influence for the sake of global peace and calm. Our people have the similar spirit.
Together we will be able to prove to some powers that respecting other nations and their rights is good for them as well. Our two nations and governments, next to each other, will be able to play a fundamental role in promoting peace, security, progress, and human dignity at the scale of two countries and internationally.
In closing, I pray to the Almighty for the success of Your Excellency and the government and people of Germany.
28 August 2006
Ahmadinejad: Iran not after acquiring nuclear weapons
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here Sunday said that Iran's defense program is not aimed at acquiring nuclear weapons. "What we are trying to get at is the use of science for the cause of welfare and advancement of the Iranian nation. We do not have ill-intentions even for our enemies." The President was addressing a ceremony in which 14 elites in the field of peaceful nuclear technology were awarded plaques of honor. The progress of the Iranian nation is not a threat to or an obstacle for any state but a cause of progress for other nations, those of the region in particular, he said. The president said the Iranian nation believes in human dignity and will never submit to oppression.
"The Iranian nation is a peace-loving and noble nation and defends the dignity and prestige of mankind." President Ahmadinejad said even with respect to the Zionist regime, "which is definitely the enemy of the entire humanity," the Iranian nation calls for holding true and free election to clarify the fate of this regime. "Owners of nuclear weapons will be the first to benefit from abandoning these weapons," he said. The Iranian nation is concerned about the entire humanity and it is a shame that there are people who order massacres and resist establishment of ceasefire. The president said, "The Iranian nation is unanimously and vigorously announcing that peaceful nuclear energy is its inalienable right." Stressing that this is the legal right of the Iranian nation, he said, "As representative of the people, I am duty-bound to fulfill the people's demands."
Praising the creativity and stamina of young Iranian scientists, he said the hegemonic powers do not want the Iranian nation to progress in any field, and in the world today someone in need will never have dignity. He said that the "great" decision made by the Iranian nation on access to peaceful nuclear technology is "final". "Enemies of the Iranian nation should know that this path (chosen by the Iranians) is irreversible. "Today, the Iranian nation unanimously insists on its inalienable right and will not accept claims that science and technology are good for some people and bad for others because they might be diverted from (peaceful) nuclear use," he said. He added, "The path of progress and development of the Iranian nation is not limited to nuclear energy and includes all fields.
"The Iranian people and government believe they are able to settle their problems and can conquer peaks of progress and growth through major strides." Ahmadinejad stressed, "The Iranian nation can be the best in science, technology, art, economy, politics, culture and all other fields. Our youth are more competent to have access to technology than those who are just after their own greed." He addressed the bullying powers and said, "You have killed or wounded thousands of people in our neighboring states by using weakened uranium weapons. You should change your attitude." The president said, "Those who have nuclear weapons are not competent to possess such weapons.
They should abandon the path of nuclear technology. "Today, you are producing the third and fourth generation nuclear weapons but if you were competent, you would not boast of it. "Iran's enemies follow up two goals which include preventing its progress in all fields to make it dependent on foreigners and break the firm determination of the Iranian nation. "They do not want to admit that there is a nation who has resisted against the bullying powers and conquered the peaks of progress.
" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that no one can ever deprive the Iranian nation from its absolute right to access peaceful nuclear technology. Addressing a ceremony to award plaques of honor to 14 national nuclear scientists at Vahdat Hall, downtown Tehran, the president said Iranians were seeking to serve humanity through their knowledge and technology. "Pursuing science and technology is not only considered by Iranians as their absolute right but it is also their (religious) duty. It is a right bestowed to all mankind by God," Ahmadinejad stressed. Noting that those powers who used nuclear weapons in the past were now in need of a change, the president suggested, "Those who have deviated from the (right) path, have to stop producing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction." Stressing that the Iranian nation will strongly resist any aggression, President Ahmadinejad said "Our nation will never tolerate any imposition."
Message of H.E. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
To the American People
In the name of God, the
Compassionate, the Merciful
O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being
promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.
Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration
in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities
on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities
caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US
interference in other countries;
Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;
And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;
Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.
While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United
States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values
and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth
of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the
United States closer together.
Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.
Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.
We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.
We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples’ rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.
We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.
The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.
Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world. Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.
As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world. We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.
No day goes by without a new crime. Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn’t?
For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.
You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.
Who can deny such broken promises and grave injustices towards humanity by the US administration?
Governments are there to serve their own people. No people wants to side with or support any oppressors. But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.
Let’s take a look at Iraq. Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.
Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated. In Iraq, about one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government. Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq.
I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.
You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.
You have certainly heard the sad stories of the Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib prisons. The US administration attempts to justify them through its proclaimed “war on terror.” But every one knows that such behavior, in fact, offends global public opinion, exacerbates resentment and thereby spreads terrorism, and tarnishes the US image and its credibility among nations.
The US administration’s illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of “the war on terror,” civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.
I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it. The US administration does not accept accountability before any organization, institution or council. The US administration has undermined the credibility of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. But, I do not intend to address all the challenges and calamities in this message.
The legitimacy, power and influence of a government do not emanate from its arsenals of tanks, fighter aircrafts, missiles or nuclear weapons. Legitimacy and influence reside in sound logic, quest for justice and compassion and empathy for all humanity. The global position of the United States is in all probability weakened because the administration has continued to resort to force, to conceal the truth, and to mislead the American people about its policies and practices.
Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have heard and will heed the message of the American people.
My questions are the following:
Is there not a better approach to governance?
Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?
We all condemn terrorism, because its victims are the innocent.
But, can terrorism be contained and eradicated through war, destruction and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents?
If that were possible, then why has the problem not been resolved?
The sad experience of invading Iraq is before us all. What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.
What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?
I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.
Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.
I’d also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US: The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations. Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.
If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America. But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration’s policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.
To sum up:
It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.
It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.
It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.
It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.
Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.
What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.
I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized, Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.
The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.
We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur’an:
“But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him.” (28:67-68)
I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.