Statement from the Secretariat of H.I.M. Reza Shah II
His Majesty's speech during the "The Global Panel" in Hague
"I will indeed, carry out the responsibility which history has bestowed upon me. Iran must be freed. Its people must decide their own destiny and they ought to be supported in that regard."
-Excerpts from an interview with NOVA TV on Friday, November 24, 1995
His Majesty, during a three day visit to the Netherlands (from 22nd to 25th of November) concurrent with inaugurating a new scientific/managerial foundation by the name of "The Change Institute", participated and delivered a speech entitled: "The Crisis of Islamic Fundamentalism and the Future of Iran" in the "Global Panel" conference. The latter consists of prominent statesmen from around the world, who come together on an annual basis to discuss and debate notable international issues. The following renowned lecturers were present at the conference:
* George Bush- former U.S. President
* Yaser Arafat Chairman of P.L.O
* Arpad Goncz- President of Hungary
* Hans Van Den Broek- Former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and Chairman of the European Commission
* Keith Sheun-Special Emissary of the Cambodian Monarch, Norodom Sihanouk
During their speech ( excerpts of which will be made available to the Iranian community ) His Majesty pointed out the critical state of affairs in Iran, and went on to stress the fact that the extremist agenda of the clerics has become widely unpopular amongst the Iranian people, and that the latter, after enduring the tyranny of a ruthless regime for nearly 17 years, wish to replace it with a free, popular and nationalist government wherein the principles of state and religion are kept distinctly separate. After expanding upon their views, His Majesty once again reminded the panel of the main aspiration of the Iranian people, namely of their wish to live in an environment void of threats and tyranny, in which they could freely decide their own future and destiny.
George Bush, the former U.S. President, at the end of his speech, in an answer to a question regarding the U.S. policy vis a vis Iran and Iraq, pointed out the deplorable status of women and the diminishing standards of education in Iran and expressed his full support for the current U.S. administration's policies in Iran, stressing the notion that the United States has tried and worn out all other options and that until the establishment of a free government in Iran, he will continue to support the economic sanctions against the current regime.
Consequently, and in a private meeting with the former president, His Majesty reiterated their views concerning the current issues in Iran.
Prior to their return to U.S., His Majesty had an interview with the Netherlands most widely circulated newspaper; The Telegraph, and with two major TV stations which cover, the Netherlands, Belgium, and parts of Germany, addressing and responding to all questions regarding the future of Iran. Furthermore, during private meetings with various local figures, including the chairman of the Dutch parliament's foreign affairs committee, His Majesty, by emphasizing the current crisis in Iran, stated that the Western nations ought to earnestly and whole-heartedly extend their moral support to the benevolent aspirations of the Iranian people, and refrain from remaining aloof towards the latter's courageous struggle to replace the current illegitimate regime.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for having been invited to this forum, and for the opportunity of sharing with you some of my views regarding certain pertinent issues that affect the international community as a whole, as well as the future of my own country, and the extremely important economic and strategic region in which it is placed. To begin with, I should like to draw your attention to the topic of fundamentalism , a phenomena which has come to play a leading role in contemporary politics and of which the Islamic kind, has been the source of so much anxiety and concern in recent years. This has been due to the fact that the most obvious aspect of fundamentalism in the West has always been in its implied intolerance and a view of the world which is both backward and obscurantist which according to the Oxford Dictionary means being an Opponent of Enlightenment .
Fundamentalism is a controversial topic and while much of the current apprehension regarding this term refers to Moslem fanaticism, the Islamic world is by no means alone in suffering from this disturbing phenomenon. Since both Judaism and Christianity are older than Islam, it is perhaps not surprising that such manifestations of mindless religious zeal have been attributed to these faiths centuries before they made their appearance in Islam. The Pharisees of ancient Palestine and adherents of Augustinian Christianity, and in more recent times, the experiences of the Anglo-Saxon Protestants in Western Europe and America come to mind.
In geographic terms, the so-called Bible Belt in the United States, is a prime example of where this trend has been most dominant. For example, one can mention the Modern Creationists in the Christian faith who share a fundamentalist belief that every literal statement about the world is contained the First Book of the Bible and the like. One of the main concepts forwarded by these so-called Christian fundamentalists, is the belief that everything mentioned in the Bible is both absolute and unchangeable . Indeed, the famous Scopes Trial concerning the teaching of Darwin s Origin of the Species in schools more than 50 years ago in the United States, is a vivid example in which belief in Christian fundamentalism has been relevant in a modern society.
However, this notion of fundamentalism has by no means been confined solely to the Christian and Islamic Worlds. The Sikhs in Amritza, are an example of the fundamentalist Movement in the Indian Subcontinent, for they represent an ideology which is both rejectionist and exclusively political in nature. The same is also true in Judaism and, most particularly, there are distinct groups in Israel today, who can, by any standard, be only described as fundamentalist . However, what concerns us here today is not a comparative study of religions, but the threat that fundamentalism poses to world peace and stability.
This unfortunate reality was tragically demonstrated only a few weeks ago by the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin by what is now being described as an ultra- religious group with very little tolerance for alternative view points or peaceful coexistence in the broader sense of the word. Prior to this recent tragedy, there were two particular groups in Israel to which one could make reference, in order to underline this trend. One such group consisted of highly orthodox Jews who reject even the creation of the state of Israel on the grounds that it conflicts with their religious beliefs in that they think that on religious grounds it should never have been created. The second group are those who seek to justify the creation of a Greater Israel though further annexations of captured Arab territory and who seek to set up an exclusively ethnic society .
But irrespective of the menace of religious radicals who exist in every faith, it is nevertheless Islamic fundamentalism which has been the main source of concern for the West, particularly during the past twenty years when the West has had to contend with the implications of the Arab oil embargo and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A sad and, if I may say so, erroneous consequence of this experience has been the misleading notion of looking a contemporary Islam only in terms of the ideas presented by the fundamentalists. Unfortunately, this has for some time been the prevailing mood in the West. In this sense, Fundamentalism is a myth and Islam has itself been mythicized by seeing it in those terms given that these extremist elements who are blessed with negative characteristics such as being both backward and obscurantist and who have managed to gain prominence and notoriety over and above their true potential on the wider political scene since the advent of Khomeini, have never been and are nothing more that a tiny, self-contained minority within the world Islamic community.
However, in understanding why Islamic fundamentalism has been given the role it has in current international politics, it is perhaps also important to make note of the fact that irresponsible and self defeating efforts on the part of narrow minded bigots such as Khomeini and his disciples, has also provided the West with a convenient scapegoat in the aftermath of the Cold War and the collapse of communism. Islamic fundamentalists have, in this regard, fulfilled the need on the part of some circles in the West who hold a Manichean view of the world (i.e., those that have the need to have two different poles to measure these actions). Hence, in this respect, Islamic fundamentalism is serving a purpose in that it is providing the West with a suitable channel to direct all its hatred. But the real truth, as repeated on many occasions in the past by many responsible Western governments, including the Clinton Administration, is that the West has never had any real trouble in living side by side and peacefully with the Islamic world. But what the can not and will not tolerate, and rightly so, is political extremism, human rights violations and gratuitous disdain for concepts such as pluralism and democracy, in the name of religion. Here it is possible for me to make reference to the fundamentalist Hizbollah organization and their political agenda in Lebanon, which has been a creation as well as a creature of the radical fundamentalist elements who are entrenched amongst Iran s despotic ruling clique. Unlike certain hard line and fundamentalist elements in Algeria or Egypt who have displayed hostility towards the West only because of Western support for their incumbent regimes, the Hizbollah leadership in Lebanon as supported by the Islamic leadership in Iran, is committed to a Holy War against the West whom they refer to as the modern day crusaders . Thus, what they uncompromisingly seek is not only the creation of an Islamic government, but the destruction of the state of Israel as well as the complete ejection of all forms of Western presence from the region.
Today, in such circumstances, the justification of the validity of outrageous assertions of this nature, makes it clear that this so-called Political Islam is not merely a statement about religious doctrine, but that it is also a statement of Cultural Struggle and a statement against Cultural dominance . While this form of extreme Political Islam as personified in Islamic fundamentalism is interpreted by some as a modern movement aimed at standing up to some of the West s excesses , it is of little wonder that its message is considered antagonistic in the essentially secular West, consequently leading to a situation whereby the entire notion is considered as both hostile and totally unacceptable. This notion concerning Islamic fundamentalism is further reinforced and exacerbated by the ever present concern in the West that Islam is an historically close and ever present threat given in particular that Islamic countries today control a great portion of the world's oil reserves. The unfortunate repercussion from this form of perception has in turn led to a situation where in some quarters, the West's Manichean view of the world and its need for a perceived enemy has been reinforced.
My view, however, is that we should not allow ourselves to get carried away by either forms of extremist opinion and that we should soberly and rationally chart a course of action that offers the best alternative for future cooperation and coexistence. In this regard, it is important that I point out the undeniable reality that Islamic fundamentalism in its modern day cradle, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran has been nothing other than a major failure. I wish to assure every member of this distinguished audience here today that apart from a small band of self-seekers in positions of authority, the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people have come to the full realization of the empty and meaningless rhetoric of their brutal oppressors which successfully duped them into conforming with the agenda some 17 years before. The fact that the Iranian people are with increasing numbers turning way from the fundamentalist regime is simply a demonstration of the fact that the Islamic regime's political, social and economic agenda, is not one which has been able to retain the loyalty of a forward looking, progress seeking population which is now kept in line only through violence and coercion. This, I contend is the most striking evidence of the failure of modern day Islamic fundamentalism where there is now undisputable proof that ordinary people have come to see through the disguised rhetoric of their bankrupt regime while at the same time coming to an emphatic consensus that what has been on offer for the past 17 years is not what they want either for themselves of for the future generations of Iranians.
So to conclude, I wish to reiterate my belief that with the end of the cold War, the threat of "Islam" was receiving a great deal of high priority. However, unlike the Cold War threat, these threats were being mainly propagandized by various Islamic leaders themselves. This threat, however, in reality was and is nothing more that a myth. Because Islamic countries can not as yet be considered a major political threat and they are even less of an economic threat. But there is a short term and long term menace which is still posed by the Islamic fundamentalists led by Iran which does require greater future scrutiny and neutralization. For example, the Iranian Revolution is still bent on exporting itself, and is continuously feeding on the social and economic problems of the region. It is important to remember that the Islamic Republic of Iran will, under no circumstances, alter any of its uncompromising policies regarding some of the key positions held by Khomeini and his immediate constituency, such as the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Furthermore, it is important to underline the fact that the dictatorship in Iran also continues to feed on its various "policies of intransigence", be it their call for Rushdie's death, their opposition to the Middle East Peace Plan, or their increasingly meaningless and ritual-like "hate campaign" against the United States. However, none of these can be truly categorized as a "strategic threat" because the primary aim is to threaten the Moslem Countries. However, any consideration given to their more longer term ambitions is another matter. Here I wish to highlight the general concern that is universally shared by the recent attempts on the part of the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran to possess various weapons of mass destruction. While some intellectuals have attempted to attribute the interest shown on the part of a certain number of Islamic countries and not just Iran, for the possession of nuclear weapons not to their religious beliefs, but to their national interests, there is no question that in the case of a country like Iran which is run by an ideologically oriented minority of religious extremists, the ultimate aim is to use these weapons to empower themselves to intimidate other Moslem communities into submission while blackmailing the rest of the world and most prominently the West, into inaction against their various ambitions. This, I believe is serious enough and important enough to warrant careful consideration. However, as I have said before on many previous occasions, I do not believe that there is a half-way cure for this kind of an ailment and nothing short of a determined effort to offer tangible and meaningful support to enlightened and democratic forces enabling them to successfully resist their theocratic dictators in Iran will achieve the outcome that is universally desired. Today, the Islamic regime in Teheran, which is the root of modern day Islamic fundamentalism is in serious trouble with its own population, namely the Iranian people. The West can help by not remaining cynically indifferent to the wishes of our suffering people. It goes without saying that it is blatantly obvious that by helping the promotion of a democratic and progressive order in Iran, they would also remove a major source of threat to their own future peace and prosperity.
Prior to concluding my address, I feel compelled to devote a few more minutes so that I may present you with a brief assessment of the current situation in my country which is the largest most populated littoral state of a region whose strategic importance has remained unaffected as a consequence of the ending of the Cold War. In fact, it is my view that because of the world community s increasing need and future reliance on economic sources of energy, the importance of this region, and that of Iran, as well as the whole host of questions related to its future peace and security is bound to receive more than the temporary piecemeal measures and considerations which have continued to remain in force since the end of the Persian Gulf War. Even if major powers interests have continued to remain adequately served as a consequence of the existing circumstances, irrespective of the great sufferings inflicted on the people of Iran and Iraq, I believe that the time is now approaching that the appalling state of affairs in both Iran and Iraq can no longer guarantee the indefinite continuation of the status quo. It is only sad that bastions of freedom, democracy and human rights in the civilized world in which we live, have not themselves felt the urgent need to lend their full weights in support of suffering peoples who have no one to turn to but a sympathetic and compassionate world community. Indeed, as I speak to you today, more than 17 years have elapsed since the time that the present regime in Iran has come to power and it is now more than 15 years since I have assumed the responsibilities placed before me by the provisions of the previous Iranian Constitution, which unlike the one adopted by the current Iranian regime, is a guarantor of popular sovereignty, all basic freedoms and above all, the territorial integrity of Iran. During this time, I have come to experience certain realities which have deeply shaken my fundamental expectations for the world community. To start with, it was inconceivable for me to think that the plight of my people of those of the suffering people of Iraq would be treated differently than that of people in the former Soviet bloc, Latin America or South Africa. I can not understand why democracy and human rights are essential for some and not for others. What are the imperatives behind the types of calculations that come to such conclusions? The most tormenting aspect of this whole situation has been the arduous task of asking the Iranian people not to lose hope or belief that their futures will ultimately change and that they and their children can look forward to a day when they might once again live with hope and dignity. For me it has been very difficult to convince our struggling people who see those who only a few years back were celebrating the down fall of the Berlin Wall, making deals with their oppressors who have armed themselves with both the wealth of the nation as well as the necessary forces to coerce and silence every slight dissent. It is even more ironic when our people see the inconsistent attitude on the part of certain countries in the civilized world who can not even agree amongst themselves to contain their greed for what is nothing more than a dwindling Iranian economic market.
Finally, my presence here also awards me an opportunity of responding to a request that is constantly made of me, both directly and indirectly, by thousands of my compatriots living outside and inside Iran. Their message is that I should remind you and the world at large of their continuing plight and suffering at the hands of a brutal tyranny, which is now confronted with a series of economic, political and social crises for which it has no solutions. They, like me, share the view that the present ruling clique in Iran is neither willing nor capable of either reforming itself or alternatively leading the country out of its present crisis. Not even the greatest of wishful thinkers in Iran any longer holds any illusion that some moderate or pragmatic mullah from the ranks of the ruling elite is ever likely to emerge from the blue yonder with the aim of instigating the types of reforms necessary for the conversion of our nation to a progressive and productive entity, with pride and self esteem. Indeed, I am more convinced than ever before that nothing short of a series of major constitutional reforms, allowing the nation to freely determine its leaders and the policies that it wants, free of the guardianship of the clergies, is likely to prove sufficient to quell the tide of mass discontent by preventing an inevitable explosion of public unrest and the like. I am greatly dismayed by the fact that there are still certain quarters in the West and particularly in the media, who are once again proving gullible to the type of disinformation handed out by Teheran, which hints at certain promises of some political change and reform following the upcoming parliamentary and presidential election sin Iran. It seems that the most obvious lessons of the recent presidential referendum in Iraq has been lost to them all. Indeed, the Islamic leads of today are a much representatives of the will and aspirations of people of Iran as Saddam Hussein is representative of the same for the Iraqi people. While, I shall continue to remain defiant against all such quarters, I would like to remind this distinguished audience of one important matter: The establishment of a secular, democratic opposition with sufficient credibility to seriously challenge the theocratic dictatorship in Iran is something that is of vital importance not just for the people of Iran, but for all their partners around the globe. In this regard, it is best not to forget that it was due to the absence of such a force, that in the closing stages of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 that the Allies had reluctantly come to the conclusion that the removal of Saddam Hussein would only lead to a situation where his Islamic fundamentalist opponents supported by Iran seemed to be the only realistic alternative for replacing him. Hence, it was as much to deny the Islamic leadership in Teheran the luxury of indirectly achieving something which they had failed to achieve through the Iran-Iraq War, that a decision was finally reached not to topple Saddam. With hindsight, it can be seen that this was a grave mistake which must not be allowed to repeat itself, and to this end, I very much hope that democrats everywhere also bear responsibility for seeking out like-minded democrats in the Iranian political scene with a view to helping them with the promotion of their ideals.
In ending my remarks, it is my wish to leave you with the feeling that despite the tragedies of the past 17 years, I am today very much optimistic about the future. I believe that just as the cycle of Islamic fundamentalism has now completed itself in Iran, having exposed the Islamic leadership for the cruel and inept despots that they are, there is also a greater awareness in the West that these people, whose vulnerabilities have never before been so explicitly evident, are truly incapable of either reforming themselves or playing a constructive role in the world community. These developments provide the necessary opportunities for the forces of peace and progress to unite under the banner of a new democratic order in Iran. Only then can the people of my country be confronted with a realistic and viable alternative to their present oppressors. I believe that achieving such an understanding is very much a high priority in the agenda of all my compatriots who wish to establish a democratic order in Iran. Therefore, it is my intention in the coming months to intensify all my efforts in conjunction with other democrats and nationalists in Iran, so that we may bring to realization this indispensable requirement that will ensure a progressive and prosperous future with hope and dignity for all Iranians and, in particular, our youth, in whose hands the future development of the country we all love must come to rest.
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