Forum on Leader’s Letter to Western Youths Held in Tehran
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A forum has been held in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on a recent letter by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei to the youth in Europe and North America.
Press TV hosted the conference, titled “Seeking the Truth,” in collaboration with the University of Tehran on Monday.
Mohammad Marandi, the head of the Faculty of World Studies of the University of Tehran, was the first to speak at the event.
The leader’s letter was aimed at informing the Western youths of the “hegemonic aspirations” of “the Western institutions of power” and never tried to pit one single ideology against another, said Mohammad Marandi.
Following the rise of such extremist groups as the ISIL and al-Nusra Front, Western media tried to depict Islam as a radical and violent ideology, Marandi added.
This is while, in reality, the ideology behind these extremist movements has been Wahhabism which comes from countries like Sauid Arabia and is promoted by certain regional countries such as Qatar with the support of western countries, Marandi noted.
He further implied that the Western states have played a major role in the chaos and great devastation in countries such as Libya and Syria in the name of Islam and with the aim of tarnishing the image of Islam.
The Leader decided to write the letter to counter the western media’s anti-Islam propaganda, he stressed.
Marandi further noted that the letter of the Leader "was not to critique any belief or religion," but that the idea in the letter is that the "western governments and western institutions of power," because of their hegemonic aspiration, are basically demonizing other people to justify their policies.
Giving examples of the divisions caused by hegemonic powers, Marandi said the US plays a destructive role in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan by pitting one group against another.
He further noted that acts of terrorism in the regional countries, especially in Pakistan, are mainly due to the support that the US lends to its allies to promote extremist ideology.
One of the reasons for the emergence of extremism in the region is Washington's backing for extremism and the Israeli regime, he further noted.
“Zionism itself is like ISIL,” he added.
The letter by the Leader “is not demonizing the West” and speaks in praise of western historians, but it asks the Westerners to rethink their world view, Marandi added.
What the letter calls for is not only very courageous for the young people in the West to do, but also very important for the people in the non-western world to do as well, Marandi noted.
The letter calls on all people in the west to discover the truth themselves and do not follow whatever prescribed and advertised in the western media, he added.
The letter by the Leader says, “We have something to say. So, listen to us. Listen to our own voices and then come to conclusion.”
Also present at the forum was Kevin Barrett, the London-based Islamic Studies expert, said the Leader’s letter warned that Muslims should never allow the Western media to portray their recruited terrorists as the representatives of Islam.
Answering an email asking, “Why are you trying to show the real Islam is different from the Islam a terrorist group like ISIL Takfiri group is promoting?” Barret said that “I think the Supreme Leader said it beautifully, when he said don’t allow them, meaning the Western promoters of Islamophobia, to introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.”
In all terrorist attacks in the West, the western intelligence services had recruited proxies -- who are primarily extremist Muslims -- to commit acts of terrorism, so that they had the pretext to blame Islam, Barret further noted.
The West aims to keep Islam as the next civilization’s enemy, Barret noted, adding, to achieve that end the West tries to show that there is a threat from radical Islam.
The West tries to invest in showing the atrocities committed by terrorist groups like the ISIL Takfiri group and associate them with Islam which creates a kind of emotional anti-Islam impression in the audience, Barrest said, adding the letter by the Leader aimed to counter such “brain washing.”
Every Muslim leader in the past fifteen years should have taken the same measure as the Leader took, he added.
The West has been using synthetic terrorism to “smear the image of Islam”, Barret said, adding, “I think the best way to counter this is, of course, through education and the spread of knowledge to the younger people who are curious and more open-minded and who represent the next generation.”
“I think the Supreme Leader made a very good move by writing this eloquent letter and sending it directly to the young people rather than to the usual politicians,” Barret added.
According to Barrett, the Leader made the remarks not only with regard to the ISIL group, but also concerning the fake terrorist groups that are active all over the world, like those who carried out recent operations that were carried out against the French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, in the French capital city of Paris.
Media are biased toward spectacular imagery, and spectacular violence always grabs peoples’ attention whereas thoughtful discourse is much harder to transmit through television and television-type media, Barret said answering a question on the way violent videos by the ISIL and the peaceful letter by the Leader are covered in the West.
Barret said that in the short run, videos showing acts of terrorism, which are bloody and content-free, will get more attention in the public, but in the long run the impact of the “thoughtful letter” by the Leader could “gradually create kind of groundswell," making the young people look at other aspects of Islam.
Barret also called for the establishment of media centers in the West by Muslims so that the real image of Islam is shown to all.
Further in the discussion, Abdul Alim Musa, the Muslim American activist and director of Masjid Al-Islam in Washington, also hailed the Leader’s letter, saying it was a reminder that we can fight the prejudiced representation of Islam in the Western media through educating the younger generation in the West.
Referring to the Western media’s anti-Islam propaganda, Musa said "we don’t have necessarily to blame the media" because they are doing the job they are designed to do.
What should we do is to develop the means, the media and every other way to paint our own picture of our own reality, he added.
“Perception management is what the Rahbar (Leader) was speaking about” in the letter, Musa said.
The western media portray the image of Muslims and of Islam as they are instructed, and people perceive Islam and Muslims as pictured by the media, Musa added.
“We should design our own image for the public” to show the truth, he further said.
In January, Ayatollah Khamenei sent a letter to the youth in Europe and North America, urging them to study about Islam and to get firsthand information about it before accepting their governments’ propaganda.
Ayatollah Khamenei criticized “the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment” of other nations and cultures and said, “The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians.”
The Leader said the humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common basis of the so-called superpowers in the West.
“Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment,” Ayatollah Khamenei concluded.