Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ahmadinejad's Selective View of Religious Diversity & Acceptance

The New York Times wrote the following in today's edition:

"[President Ahmadinejad] took questions from a panel that included a Quaker, a Catholic, an Anglican, a Baptist and a representative of the interfaith World Council of Churches."

"The organizers said that they had pressed hard to find a Jewish leader to join the panel of questioners, but that those invited declined because they could not win support from Jewish organizations."

"...the Bahais, a minority religious group that has suffered persecution in Iran, said they supported these efforts at dialogue with the Iranian government. They had been invited to the prior meetings, but the Iranian side refused to come if Bahais were there, said Kit Bigelow, director of external affairs, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States."

Read the entire article here....

Based on the various interviews, meetings and panels involving the president of Iran, he had repeatedly used pleasant and inviting words proclaiming his belief in equality of humans, religious harmony and that the mission of all religions is the same as they all come from the same source. However, whenever the question of the Baha'is--being savagely persecuted in Iran--is brought up with him, he would evade the issue by stating that there are only four recognized religions in Iran "Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism." He did not even acknowledge the existence of Baha'is in Iran, the largest religious minority in that country.

The question Mr. President is: since Iran is such a tolerant nation that respects all human beings, and since Baha'is are a significant segment of your human population, why then do you continue to isolate them, persecute them and deprive them of all their rights? Do you or do you not consider the Baha'is humans? Furthermore, why did you refuse to meet with the Baha'is when you had the opportunity to do so during this panel?

Considering your deep respect for the teachings of your own Faith, one cannot but to expect the best from you: that your deeds must conform to your words.

Here is a perfect example of the President's response to a question regarding the Baha'is of Iran:


  1. When will the world wake up to respond to the systematic persecution of the besieged minority of Baha'is in Iran? Isolating the largest religious minority in that country and treating them as sub-human is a repeat of recent history when the entire world proclaimed "Never Again!". Well, it is happening again and it behooves all people of all faiths and good faith to stand up to this injustice, tyranny, and ungodly designs!

    In particular, Muslims every where should become vocal in telling the President of Iran that he does not represent their pure and compassionate Faith! Crimes are committed in the name of this great religion by people who cling to Islam's name but abandon its spiritual essence!

  2. Unfortunately the problem of religious intolerance is very deep rooted as it is found in religious teachings. We see it at its extreme in the words and conduct of the president of Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad declaims a beautiful tirade describing the wonderful attributes that define religion, but confronted by his interlocutor about the plight of the Baha’is he is very adamant that his religion does not allow him to recognize them, case closed, he will not defy the Almighty.
    Sometimes this intolerance is insidiously a lot closer to us. We hear "their religion is OK but ours is much better" or “our prophet is more relevant than any other” or we read “we are fortunate to believe in these particular tenets as many blessings will fall upon us" etc…. all in all a not so disguised way to separate and alienate.
    The real teachings of "love, peace, brotherhood and caring" are difficult to follow and demand sacrifices. How easy then to overlook these requisites and instead focus on “them” who, we are being told by religious authorities (or our own religious writings) are a bit less enlightened, a bit less worthy, a bit backwards, a bit less like us…. poor misguided souls…
    Very few people manage to rise above this petty outlook as it demands of us to “filter” what we are taught so we can keep only the truly divine that unite, while rejecting what we perceive as intolerant, and make sure our children know the difference.
    God has given us a kaleidoscope of ways to worship and when a prayer reaches Him, I would like to believe that the religion of the supplicant has no bearings on His answer.

  3. Anonymous,
    Thank you for your wise comment.

    I do not think that I heard him say that “his religion does not allow him to recognize them [Baha'is]....” What I heard him say is: “in our constitution, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism are recognized as the official religions.” His denial is simply an evasion that is not based on any logic.

    On another note, it is quite true that there are so many who do think that their way is the only right way, and all others are misguided. This happens in every society, whether civilized or not. What is worth noting though is that in many, so called, civilized societies, people of various religious backgrounds may simply tolerate others and live peacefully with them; they do not necessarily accept others’ beliefs. At times, they also do accept others, particularly when they are truly enlightened. The problem with this President’s stance is that he neither accepts nor tolerates others, except for those he had named, whom he apparently—by all indicators—appears to be only tolerating.

    If humans can, someday, reach a height where they are able to go beyond mere tolerance and learn to accept each other, the world could then become what we all dream of.

  4. Anonymous,

    You are correct! There is a human tendency to monopolize God and judge others to be less worthy of His love and mercy! I would like to distinguish between issues of theology and issues of human and civil rights.

    On the theological level, this is the age where the banners of the Oneness of God, the Oneness of His Messengers, and the Oneness of Humanity have been raised. God is not ours, we are His. The actions of those who attempt to monopolize the Unknowable Essence and rule on that basis are not congruent with the spirit of each and all of the World Religions.

    On the human level, every individual should be allowed the right of worship without losing her civil and human rights or his citizenship rights.

  5. President Ahmadinejad is a master at verbal gymnastics...I've never seen someone so gifted at twisting words outside of a USED Car sales lot :-)

  6. Iran, a Shiite nation whose religious origins are Zoroastrian, claims the validity of Islamic, Christian, and Judaic religions, acknowledge Zoroastrianism out of historic context, but reject the reference as an "Arab" nation; Egypt, a Sunni nation whose religious origins are of the pharaonic beliefs, is North African though claims to be an "Arab" Republic - validates the divine origins of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, but do not recognize the Zoroastrian religion. Both countries reject any divine claims by other religious groups, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and others, and deem those and followers of all other beliefs as undeserving of recognition as human citizens. Both also display enmity towards followers of the Jewish faith, though they both recognize Judaism as a divine religion, and further their hatred in terms such as the "United States and the Zionist regime". In addition, both countries absolutely reject any divine manifestation after Muhammad (PBUH). By historic or religious evidence, these terms are erroneous, unsubstantiated, and inconsistent. They are convenient however. For now.

  7. Nothing much makes sense anymore when bigotry and hatred take over. When their actions are so illogical, it becomes futile to try to figure them out. We can only hope that one day, they might be guided to a better path. One thing I know for sure is that nothing in this earthly life is ever permanent. Time is a great healer and an ultimate redeemer.


Your opinion is valuable. Please share your thoughts.