Press TV has conducted an interview with Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran, and Javad Mazloumi, an Iranian scholar, to discuss Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei’s second open letter to the youth in the West.
Press TV: Mohammad Marandi I would start off with you, if I may. We have been discussing this before as well. Why a letter? Why not make a speech or use the media to deliver this message? Why has the leader chosen the medium of the letter for a second time
Marandi: Well, I really cannot say for certain because I have not been involved in these issues at all myself but it is probably because a letter is usually more thought out, it is carefully constructed and the issue is very sensitive and what is happening right now in the region and beyond the region as we saw for example in Paris is changing the world that we are living in. Perceptions across the world are also being affected by the atrocities being committed by ISIL (Daesh) but also other extremist groups that western countries have been supporting and I say have been supporting because the West was supporting ISIL when we look at General Flynn’s statement, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the United States, that the United States took a willful decision to support these extremist groups between Syria and Iraq, that was ISI which later became ISIL and the al-Nusra front.
So when the United States backs these groups and it chooses regional allies like Saudi Arabia and other Wahhabi dictatorships like the Emirates, like other irredeemable regimes like Qatar which are slave states, which fund extremism across the region, which invade countries like Yemen, many people in the West do not recognize this. They think that this is a problem within Islam; whereas, I think what the Leader is trying to point out in this very carefully crafted statement and letter is that in reality the West is more to blame for what is going on and for the extremism than anyone else.
Islam of course has nothing to do with extremism and there are regional factors but Western hegemony, Western oppression, Western support for dictatorships, Western support for regimes that export extremism like Saudi Arabia, these and Western support for apartheid in Palestine which is a cause for grievances and has been for decades, all of these combined have helped to create this monster or these monsters that we see whether it is Daesh or Ahrar al-Sham or al-Nusra.
Press TV: Right now Mr. Mazloumi, I will put the same question to you as well, specifically given the context of the situation within the Middle East, what we saw in Paris, what we are seeing in Yemen, what we have seen in Beirut and Syria of course, how significant is this that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution is directly speaking to the youth of the West for a second time through a letter?
Mazloumi: I think choosing a letter as a media for conveying the message, it is based on a successful experience that we had in the first letter. As you know, this letter had been spread among the youth and among the old people very fast, very faster than any other media and I think the second point is that when you read something mainly we read it and we can get the deeper meaning of the text more than when we watch a media or any speech. So I think it can help the youth to get a better understanding and to reach to the deeper meaning of the message when they read it and they can study it few times and they can review it in their minds.
And I think there is a very interesting point that the Leader chose the youth as his audience. The right person to be taught, they are the people who are youth. Why? Because they have some specific characteristics in their mind and in their life and as you know we can find here something in common among all youth all around the world and one of them is the curiosity. The youth want to know, they want to ask and they want to learn more and more. When we talk to the older people, sometimes they decided and they made their mind about what happened in the world or about the policies but when we go to the youth, they are always eager to know more and they are curious about what happens in the world.
So it was I think the reason that the Leader chose the youth as his audience to talk to them and to convey the message to these people. And the time, I think, it was the right, exact point to write this letter because here we can find something in common among all peoples. Sometimes you talk to the people but they are not at the same mood but here when happened unfortunately these accidents and explosions in France, all the people from every different countries and different points of the world, they turned their head toward a one specific target – I mean Paris. So here the people have some questions in common and to answer these people who have some questions and to get the benefit of their curiosity, I think it was the main reason to have this letter written by the Leader.
Press TV: And professor Marandi, over here in the letter the Leader starts off by stressing that terrorism and the effects of it are a common worry or a common pain that the Muslim world shares with the rest specifically the West in the light of these Paris attacks but then he goes on to say that it is the double standards of the Western states and policies that have led us to the point that we are at today and many would say this is just shifting the blame onto an enemy. Is that how you would see it?
Marandi: Well I do not think the tone of the letter was in any way or form hostile to justifying such accusation but I think it is also clear that that is really the root of the problem and that what we are seeing in Europe, and this is something that he says in the letter that the incident in France is very small and insignificant in comparison to the horrors that the people of the region have been enduring for in some cases years and in some cases decades and that the terrorism that has struck Europe has been thriving in Syria, in Libya, in Egypt, in Yemen, in Iraq and Lebanon and other countries in this region for very long time now – suicide bombers – and the problem lies really in Western policy towards this region. The countries that are the closest to the United States in this part of the world are the problem.
The people in this region have been subjugated by dictatorships that have been wWestern-backed for decades. They saw Palestine occupied, the Palestinians treated as sub-humans for decades and they could do nothing to support them because the dictatorships that ruled over them were supported by the West. The religious movement that was encouraged to grow in this part of the world came from Saudi Arabia, came from Qatar, came from the Emirates. These are regimes that have been backing extremism in the 1980s, the results we see according to Western countries, we saw in New York and in the United States on 9/11.
Now we see Western countries repeating history again with the same allies in this part of the world. So what he is trying to convey to a younger Western audience that is more impressionable, both in a positive as well as in a negative sense than previous generations, is that instead of looking where the Western media is directing them to, take a more careful view of the incidents, the problems, the terrorism, the destruction and maybe if they look more carefully, they will see that the roots of this problem lie closer to home than in West Asia or North Africa.
Press TV: Mr. Mazloumi, I will put the same question to you as far as the root causes of terrorism go, where Ayatollah Khamenei speaks of Western intervention and the alienation of the people through a lack of development. Is that oversimplifying the issue in your opinion or does it get to the crux of the matter?
Mazloumi: I think as you mentioned here we have a question which the people all around the world have it in their minds and they are thinking about one standard that can explain everything. I think justice is something that is in common among all the people. They believe, every person believes in justice as a moral value, general moral value. So even the people who have the wrong action, for example the thieves, when they want to divide what they have got in their stealing way, they say, ‘Let me take my share but in justice way’. Here is the question. Every person asks, why we see a double standard encountered the countries? When we go to one country we say oh, it is the best way to have democracy as choosing and electing the ruler but when you go to Syria, the United States and some other Western countries say, no, we should change this way. It is not important to say or to believe that Bashar al-Assad should stay in his position or to change it but when any other person decides about the other country, the question comes back.
And here the Leader, I think, gets the benefit of this rule among the people and asks them why we cannot see here, for example about terrorism as you mentioned, the terrorism is divided into two types. One of them is good terrorism and the other one is bad. When you get the benefit of terrorism it is considered good and when [the terrorists] attack Paris, you say that no it is a wrong and bad action. This is the problem.
And when you ask the question and here is the best method for, I think, to encourage the people to think about the question is to raise the question in their mind not to give the answer and here it is what has happened that the Leader asked the youth why this happens, why terrorism is divided into two types, why democracy is sometimes good and sometimes is bad, why referring to election and the vote of people sometimes is considered acceptable and sometimes is not.
These questions can raise a big question in the minds of youth and it is what happened in the letter and our Leader asked them or let me say tried to raise this question in their mind, why this double standard we can see in the policy of Western countries or in the policy of some politicians. They have different decision in the same cases. When this case happened in the North of Africa, in Egypt or Tunisia you can see the answer is right and when it happens in Syria or Iraq the answer is no. When the people who killed the army of United States they are considered terrorists and when we go to Palestine and we see happened the same action or when we go to Syria we see it happens exactly the same, they say no they are not terrorists, they are freedom seekers.
These double standards is something that is clearly mentioned in the letter and I think it can raise a question in the mind of the youth and it can led them to find a right answer for this question and it will shed some light on the future of their life.
Press TV: Mr. Marandi, I would like to ask about this question of alienation of the people through the lack of development coupled with Western interventions. Is that the root cause of terrorism as we are seeing today or is this a possibility because one would expect that it is not just economic issues that would cause people to pick up arms or to behead people or to travel all the way to Syria and commit the type of atrocities that we are seeing today, you would think that it has more to do than just not having enough money in the pockets or food on the table?
Marandi: Well this sense of alienation exists in Europe as well. France has a population of roughly, I think, six and a half million Muslims and they live mostly in slums. They are from North Africa for the most part, from Arab countries like Algeria. In Algeria they went through a very devastating war of independence which the French brutally suppressed and in fact the French soldiers would regularly cut the heads off Algerian resistance fighters and their families and put them up for display, these pictures are everywhere for people to see and so their homeland has been held back, the whole of North Africa and West Asia for the most part, dictatorships, Western-backed dictatorships that have prevented people from expressing themselves and from being able to develop their community and develop as individuals and they go to France and they are treated as sub-humans, they are treated as second class citizens.
So even in Europe this problem exists and as a result of the terrorist attacks most probably this racism and this attitude towards French Muslims as well as European Muslims will probably get worse and there will be greater problems in future as a result and this is something that Ayatollah Khamenei warns about. And we know that western countries have not shown an interest in democracy in this part of the world.
They have excellent relations with the Emirates, with Qatar. Both are slave states. They keep millions of slaves. For example CNN has its office in the Emirates or Saudi Arabia. None of these countries even have constitutions, they do not have voting. These are run by families yet the United States has no problem. In Syria, the Americans say that Assad must go. They do not recognize the right of the Syrian people to make their choice, even when Iran says that the international community can supervise the elections in Syria they say no, this person must not stand. They give excuses of barrel bombing and killing his own people but the reality is that the civil war in Syria was brought about because of external influences in the country. The United States, the Saudis and the Turks, they funded extremist groups in Syria and they created this mess.
And when Saudis bomb weddings in Yemen, the United States continues to sell new weapons and new bombs to Saudi Arabia, when the Americans bomb hospitals in Afghanistan that is not barrel bombing, when the Americans destroyed Fallujah in Iraq, they destroyed the city when they took it, they did not consider that a violation of the right of the people of Iraq, the occupation itself of course is a different matter altogether.
So when people see these double standards and when they see that Western countries that speak of democracy openly supporting apartheid and racism and colonialism in Palestine, it creates a huge amount of anger and frustration and then the only way to express that frustration is effectively those religious organizations and through those regimes that the West supports and that is Wahhabism. So people go to mosques, they are run by the Wahhabis, they become extremists, they are supported by the Saudis and in countries like Syria, it is obvious that ultimately this is going to hurt the West.
What we saw in France was a result of their own policies in this region just like 9/11 itself. If as the United States states that these were carried out by extremists, these were the same extremists that the United States was supporting in the past. So there is no doubt that the root of the problem, the bulk of the problem is linked to the West and not to this part of the world.
Press TV: And very quickly if you can Mr. Mazloumi, will this letter though reach the intended audience?
Mazloumi: I think as the last letter it can finally place among the different social networks and among the youth to carry the message to them and as you know in different parts of the world we had such experience that they read the last letter and had some time and spent some time to think about it and I think what happens nowadays can help this letter to get its better position among the people because they have the same questions in their minds and I think it can help them to get back to some scene which happens during these times around them, for example about Palestine. When we see one explosion or one terrorism happen in Paris, every country sends message and every leaders go to Paris to show their support toward Paris but the same thing happened in Syria, in Iraq for five years, six years and there is no voice to support them.