Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a Christmas message on British Channel 4, which apparently received criticism from the British government, Israel and human rights campaigners.
An article by Duncan Gardham in the Telegraph called the message “sick’, quoting an extract from a comment made by The Israeli Embassy, who called the Christmas message a “sick and twisted irony.” From the tone of his article it is clear that he has no liking for Ahmadinejad, but he is entitled to his opinion. I am of course not attacking Gardham for his views, it is important that he is allowed to offer them. However, if we accept this fact, President Ahmadinejad should also be permitted to provide his views as well. This is called “Free Speech”
One of the growing problems in Newspapers and on the internet, is the increasing demand by some people (and groups) to “censor” the News. They would like to decide what we should and should not hear, but what gives them the right to make such decisions and where would this censorship end?
If we take a closer look at the transcript of Ahmadinejad’s message, we find no bad language, no threats and no disrespect to Christ. So what was said that attracted so much anger?
Ahmadinejad suggested that the “the root causes” for the problems society faces at the moment is because of “humanity’s rejection of that (the Prophets) message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.”
Considering that around 70% of the planet believe in a God, it is difficult to argue with that comment, when we look at what is happening on our planet. How many “believers” can honestly say that they follow the words of their God to the letter? Anyone?
Ahmadinejad continued in his message:
“The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.”
“If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.”
“If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.”
“If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”
Is this not all true? Clearly, some people feel this message is aimed at them, and I would respond by saying “if the cap fits, wear it.”
Whilst we can be critical of many of the things that happen in Iran, we have to remember that it is their country. It is not our job to force a change in their cultures, but there is nothing to stop us offering “suggestions.” Should the situation become so unbearable for the citizens of Iran, I feel sure that the people themselves will make the necessary changes in time (without any outside help). This would have been true of Iraq. The United States, more than any other country, should understand this, as they fought for their own independence when “the people” decided it was time to make a change.
Sadly, there are many inaccuracies in reports concerning Ahmadinejad and Iran, a few were seen in the Telegraph article mentioned earlier, and these do nothing to provide a balanced view of the situation.
One comment in the article said “his aggressive rhetoric and desire to build a nuclear arsenal has caused worries across the Middle East.” There is absolutely no proof that Iran is building a “nuclear arsenal” and the main worry in the Middle East is Israel (which already has hundreds of nuclear weapons). Israel has been involved in more military conflicts than Iran (and almost any other country), whose last taste of war was when they were attacked by Iraq (supported by the US). Most of the “aggressive rhetoric” has been coming from certain members in the US and Israeli governments.
The article also mentioned Ahmadinejad’s “denial of the Holocaust” and his desire to see Israel “wiped off the map.” Despite numerous reports confirming that his quote about wiping Israel off the map was badly translated, this still keeps appearing. It is also not true that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier, in many interviews he has accepted that it did exist. What he does question are some of the details about the Holocaust, but these views are shared by many. Sadly, there are people sitting in prison who have also dared to raise this question (another example of free speech).
It is easy for us to be critical of cultures that we do not understand, or brand them as been “backward.” I dare say many countries have a less than favorable view of some western cultures and could question the morality of a society that breeds so much violence. Some have called the executions in Iran “barbaric,” but is that any worse than keeping a criminal locked-up for 20 years before executing them (as sometimes happens in the US)? Is it civilized to “torture” a person for so long before carrying out the sentence? Do Iranian youths rob and beat old women in wheelchairs, as has happened in Britain many times?
When a country has successfully managed to eradicate ALL crime and violence, then it can call itself civilized and perhaps preach to others. Unfortunately, no such country exists, so we must learn to be more understanding until that time comes and remember the message about “casting the first stone”.