Khameneis Conspiracy Theory Links Pope

Khamenei’s Conspiracy Theory Links Pope to Bush’s Crusade

Kayhan reports in Persian on remarks of Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei of Iran on the Pope’s Regensburg lecture.

Khamenei expressed profound regret at the Pope’s statements about Islam. He said that the first aspect of these remarks was the accusations that had been made against Islam. The second is more important, which is the help such remarks give to the policies of the hegemonic powers in the world, in creating religious strife between Muslims and Christians.

He said that the accusation that Islam lacks an attention to reason is like denying the light of the sun. No scripture, he said, more vigorously urged reasoning than the Quran. Muslims had established a glorious scientific civilization precisely on the basis of this attention to the precepts of Islam concerning the importance of rational thought and knowledge.

With regard to the Pope’s allegations concerning holy war in Islam, Khamenei said, it is the height of unfairness for someone to misunderstand jihad in Islam and to incorrectly describe it. He said, “Islamic holy war [jihad] is not for the purpose of imposing a belief on others.” He said it is for freeing people from the shackles of injustice.

He said in reference to the requirement that Muslims honor persons with differing beliefs, that from the point of view of Islam, human beings, by virtue of their status as human beings, are deserving of being honored. He said that numerous Quran verses attest these values.

He regretted that the Pope had leant aid and comfort to the policies of arrogant, hegemonic powers that wish to create religious turmoil, cause religious leaders to differ, and prevent the cooperation of religious communities and leaders.

He alleged that America wishes to sow mistrust and hatred between Muslims and Christians, to distort the image of Muslim minorities in the West, and to create a pretext of protecting itself from terrorism in order to oppress Muslim societies.

He accused the Pope of having, by his remarks, aided these policies. He said that the Pope had been deceived, and did not realize where his remarks would lead.

Khamenei recalled a conversation with a European some years ago in which the Westerner spoke of a coming war between Christians and Muslims. Khamenei says he was amazed. “But when the towers in New York came down, and the president of the American Republic spoke of a Crusade, and then when the American-Zionist project of attacking Iraq began, the meaning of the words of that European, which entered directly into the Iraq war, became perfectly clear.”

He described the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, dismissive remarks about Islam by prominent Western politicians, and remarks in American and European newspapers, as part of a series of actions in a broader American-Zionist conspiracy against Islam.

He added, “We don’t have any expectations of Bush, since he works for powers and global munitions corporations.” But, he said, for a respected spiritual source such as the Pope to make such comments is highly disappointing.

Here is another account of the speech.

The positives in Khamenei’s speech are his affirmation of the role of reason in Islam; his stress on an almost humanistic conception of human beings as owed respect and autonomy of conscience by virtue of being human beings; and his insistence that jihad has nothing to do with imposing beliefs on others.

Ironically, given his defense of reason and Islamic scientific contributions, Khamenei’s unfortunate departure into conspiracy theory and conflating his opponents (the Pope and Bush and even “Zionism”) shows a paranoid mindset incompatible with a reasoned, open society.

While what he said about Islam and reason is correct historically, one also has to point out that Khamenei himself has not stood for freedom of conscience and thought, nor for unfettered scientific research. In fact, Iran’s universities are being purged of liberal professors. (Apparently David Horowitz is a secret adviser to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.]

And, Khamenei has repeatedly interfered with freedom of thought and speech on religious grounds. He crushed the 2nd of Khordad reform movement, closed newspapers, and barred candidates from running for office on the basis of their beliefs. I don’t know whether his hypocrisy is a result of his not being able to see the contradictions in his stated values, or whether it is just cynicism.

But it is worth noting that Khamenei makes excuses for the Pope, saying that he was deceived and did not realize the likely impact of his words; and note that Khamenei did not call for any sort of violent response.

In fact, I don’t know of any major mainstream Muslim leader or institution that has called for a violent response. The tiny guerrilla cells in Iraq don’t count. This point is worth stressing, because of the false allegation that Muslims have in some normative way responded with violence. There has been almost none of that, despite a handful of regrettable incidents, and even the peaceful demonstrations have been tiny for a community of 1.4 billion. 150 people came out in Basra, a city of over a million.

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