We are living hard times indeed when words of peace and reason are no longer heeded but mocked … Such are the days we find ourselves in! From Britain’s calls for war in Syria, to Turkey’s mad campaign against Russia, war and bloodshed have driven the narrative, sinking the world into a dynamic of hate and violence, resentment and hatred.
And yet, just as the world seems to have all but bowed completely to ignorance and bigotry, as those new armies of Yazid are moving once more against the innocent and the helpless, a call was made to soften the darkness.
A call was made so that people would know that hope belongs still to those brave enough to resist oppression; a call was made to humanity so that Man would eventually reclaim the freedom which imperial powers stole from under his feet.
There is still much hope and much strength to be found in those words righteous clerics utter - for they seek not power for their own, but salvation for their flocks. There is courage to be rebuilt in the quiet, and immovable strength of piety - for whoever knows God, fear nothing of Men.
Just as the world, our world, stands to be lost to a cancer which perversive nature emanates from Riyadh, the royal seat of Wahhabism, this devolution which claims itself of Islam when in truth it understands not its beauty, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution extended a hand of friendship.
From Tehran, a bridge was built towards the West, so that its youth could break away from those invisible shackles which were built around their minds.
“Today terrorism is our common enemy,” said Imam Khamenei. Indeed, terror is a plague which has claimed too many lives to its sickening ideological hatred - a hate which known can claim immunity from.
And because this terror born of Wahhabism is one which seeks to destroy faith, order, justice and social order, Ayatollah Khamenei chose to stand not just for his people, or even Islam, but for those who still think him the enemy, for he believes that evil can only be defeated by which is better.
True to the Word, Ayatollah Khamenei spoke compassion and reason where others have spewed poison and ignorance.
True to Islam’s teachings Ayatollah Khamenei chose to raise a tide against those armies which feed from destruction and sorrow, walking in those steps the Prophet of Islam and his progeny lit before humanity.
And while Islam’s essence is peace, it will always meet tyranny with resolve and immovable determination.
It is Resistance above all Ayatollah Khamenei spoke of and call for as he beseeched the Western youth to open their eyes to their leaders’ ambitions and others’ manipulations.
“For me, it is unfortunate that such incidents would have to create the framework for a conversation, however the truth is that if painful matters do not create the grounds for finding solutions and mutual consultation, then the damage caused will be multiplied,” wrote Ayatollah Khamenei, offering cooperation over damnation.
If terror seeks to destroy it also needs to divide - setting communities against each other to better assert its own rationale of power. And so the Imam offered to build a grand coalition, instead of playing in the hands of the Black Flag army.
“I genuinely believe that it is only you the youth who by learning the lessons of today’s hardship, have the power to discover new means for building the future and who can be barriers in the misguided path that has brought the west to its current impasse,” he went on, relating hope and the need to begin anew, away from old prejudices and learned political patterns.
Great politicians can forge new directions, but only great leaders can manifest new social and political dynamics.
But if Ayatollah Khamenei conveyed his desire to oppose terror together, he also underscored the irrationale, and let’s say it, hypocrisy of Western powers before those policies, and those friendships they have held in the Middle East.
If Western capitals have long claimed the moral high ground, arguing democracy-building and counter-terrorism to legitimize their military interventions in the Middle East, they have courted those very powers in the region which have tyrannized and oppressed their people. From al-Saud, to al-Thani, al-Khalifa and countless others, Western leaders have stood by despots in the name of profits, selling their political grandstanding to the highest bidders.
And so Ayatollah Khamenei asked: “Shooting down a woman in the middle of the street for the crime of protesting against a soldier who is armed to the teeth- if this is not terrorism, what is? This barbarism, because it is being done by the armed forces of an occupying government, should not be called extremism? Or maybe only because these scenes have been seen repeatedly on television screens for sixty years, they should no longer stir our consciences.”
It is here justice the Imam refers to - this obligation we all have to look at events objectively and rationally in order to act justly. It is racism, bias and bigotry Ayatollah Khamenei rejected, as such feelings are what have allowed terror to grow and spread as it has.
Radicalism and terrorism are far from being DAESH’s monopoly … there are other terrors in the world which are just as despicable, just as dark in their expression.
But terror needs not be the end. Terror can be defeated if only we are willing to resist it.
There remains the heart of Ayatollah Khamenei’s message - a reminder that no matter the odds, standing against injustice is not a choice, but a duty.
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst and commentator on the Middle East. She has written for many publications and is also a regular contributor to Mehr News. Shakdam is currently affiliated with Shafaqna Institute for Middle East Studies.