Ayatullah ul-Uzma Khamenei
This eminence speech was on Wed. 6th August 2003 in an audience contained officials of the administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
"To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return" (2:156).
First of all I welcome all the dear brothers and sisters. I hope this meeting will be a source of goodness and blessing for us all. Secondly, I thank Mr. president for his stately remarks. They were very good, specially the parts on the moral and ethical society. The remarks were full of ideas as well as feelings of faith, sympathy, vision and vigilance. . . Much progress has been made
We, the Islamic revolution and system, were handed over a country where 70 per cent of the people were illiterate. Today, we are a literate people. A very large portion of the people are educated. The figures are well known. Our country has done a miracle for the growth of universities and students. The number of students and university branches - which exist in every part of the country today - are ten times more than what they were when the Islamic system was established. Are there any small or large towns in the country where there is not a university or two?
The progress in the domain of technology is amazing: In the petrochemical industry, in the oil industry, in the production of steel, in the products of the military industries, and the military equipment which are being produced in the country. There was a time that we couldn't even dream about having, let alone building, such products. Today these things are being built. As for superior technology, the world speaks about this with pride. Despite all their enmity they had to concede that Iran is among the ten countries which has been able to produce the nuclear-fuel cycle. This is not a small matter. Of course, it is only natural that when there is such success they should make a commotion about it. They say "Yes, they want to do this and do that, they want to build (nuclear) bombs", and they say other things. But this is not important. This progress has been made as a blessing of the Islamic system. It is the same in the domain of research. The research at each of these huge and important universities which I sometimes visit - I am kept informed from a distance or I go an d visit from close quarters - their research is truly admirable. This has been achieved at a time when in the past years problems have not allowed the government to allocate as much fund as it should be to research.
Look at the medical advances, the infra-structural advances, the dams, the roads, the offshore platforms, the offshore stations used for oil and other things. These things have been achieved, with the blessings of the Creator, while we maintained our independence, i.e. while they had shut all the main doors on us around the world. But maybe this was a blessing (in disguise). Sometimes we are unhappy that doors are closed on us in the world but this forces us to deal with ourselves and to use our potential to bring about progress and advancement.
On Islamic democracy:
We have our own experts and the main executors are from inside the country. Of course, as far as possible we have benefited from the global knowledge. This is because the global knowledge belongs to all members of mankind. Likewise, our knowledge belongs to all other human beings. Once upon a time, the Islamic world offered its services to the rest of the world, and today we benefit from the global knowledge. . .
One of the most important gains of our Islamic state is the realization of democracy. Our religious democracy which stems from Islam is an achievement that gives pride to all Muslims. This country had never experienced the sweet taste of people's involvement throughout history. Only for a short period when the oil industry was nationalized (in 1953), the people experienced some sort of democracy with many limits. This is a long story. At any rate, that short period of democracy did not last long. It was attacked and destroyed. However, we have succeeded in establishing a lasting democracy. Our people participate in the elections to appoint their president, their leader and the deputies of the Majlis. We are witnessing that our people are involved in the political arenas and the decision-making process. This is a major achievement of the Islamic state. We must be proud of serving such a state.
My dear ones, we must be proud, we must be proud. And we must transfer this proud feeling to the young people. The younger generation must feel proud of living in the Islamic Iran. But our enemies do not wish this. They intend to make our young people feel ashamed and humiliated. They magnify our weak points. No doubt, every one has weak points. All nations and all states have weaknesses. However, our enemies exaggerate and magnify our weaknesses by waging propaganda. They stress on some weak points and tell so many lies repeatedly against us that even our statesmen come to believe that they may be true. This is the policy of the enemy so as to deprive us of our feeling of pride.
American-Zionist front against Islamic Republic:
You should promote a sense of pride among yourselves, among your youngsters, among the new developing generation. We have many resources thank God. But we also face challenges and problems. This is the other issue that I want to talk about. There are not just one or two challenges or problems. There are many. However, I see two major challenges. One, the formation of a united front against us. Members of this front are America and the Zionists. You shouldn't think that there is a global coalition against the Islamic Republic. No. This united front, the centre which works against the Islamic Republic with all its might, has two members: the regime of the United States of America and the Zionist regime and its Zionist supporters around the world whose power, wealth and influence around the world are not insignificant. This is it. This is one of the main challenges that we face. The reason for their enmity is obvious. Once Iran was a rug under the feet of the Americans. They did whatever they wanted in Iran. They controlled the economy. They controlled the culture. The major appointments and dismissals were under their control. The government was under their c! ontrol. They profited and plundered. And now they have lost this. This was one reason. The important issue was that the great movement of the Iranian nation became a turning point for the Islamic world. Today, the issue of the Islamic revival has spread from east, or at least from Pakistan, to the west and North Africa. The people are demanding Islam. The people are openly demanding support for Islam. This is a great threat to America. They admit that their interests are threatened and they are correct. Of course, their interests are illegitimate. Yes, the Islamic reawakening is threatening their illegitimate and odious interests. They are therefore seriously opposed to our Islamic state.
Thanks to the emergence of the Islamic system, the resistance of the oppressed Palestinian people gained a new momentum. The Zionists have realized this and are now accused our Islamic Republic of offering military assistance to the Palestinians. These are all lies. The Palestinian people have risen to defend themselves and there is no doubt that they are ins! pired by the Islamic movement. The Zionists are therefore strongly opposed to the centre point. Their provocations against us began in various shapes from the start of the revolution. . .
Nuclear weapons don't solve problems
During the war (with Iraq) we managed to get hold of many sorts of weapons despite their wishes. They were against it. And we got hold of other things too. But they went even further. Gas pipelines and other things. For example, during the former government there was the Japanese project for the construction of a dam over Karun river. The contract had been signed but they undermined it. Some countries took notice of American pressure and some didn't. They continued to work with us. We have done what we should have done and we have progressed. But they have not reduced their enmity. It is a continues and perpetual enmity. Of course, this will continue until they lose hope. When dealing with visions in our country there is a certain issue that we have to ! take into consideration, not only vis-a-vis the fourth or the fifth Development Plan, but will all the general visions of every political and economic activity. The issue is that we have to reach a point where the enemy feels it can no longer cope and it can no longer hope. Then their enmity will diminish or end. As long as the enemy has the hope that it can uproot the Islamic system it will try to hurt us. We should concentrate our efforts to strengthen the structure in such a way that they feel any attack of the sword will only blunt their weapon against their own interests and every bullet against us will ricochet back to them. (Audience chants of approval: Allahu Akbar)
Of course, since the coming to power of the warmongers in the American government - the neo-conservatives who are true warmongers and whose work is based in war and military aggression - the tone and language of their threats has changed. What are we to do with this challenge? As far as I can see we have to strengthen ourselves and engage in legitimate defence. This is the dictate of reason, and of political and diplomatic logic. Of course, domestic strength, is not in the sense that they imagine, i.e. obtaining a certain sort of weapon. No. Nuclear weapons don't solve any problems, as Mr. President pointed out. Furthermore, we don't agree, logically and principally, with weapons of mass destruction in this form. We are opposed to them. At that time (of war against Iraq), in the discourse on Jihad we argued against biological and chemical weapons, and we banned them. Our government announced this at the time. This is not the case. Domestic strength has another definition. I will briefly refer to this later. However, any form of withdrawal from an arrogant and bullying power is a unilateral act. Any form of withdrawal is an invitation to further aggression. We have learnt this from experience. We have experienced this in the past years and in various fields.
On faith, resistance, steadfastness
Wherever they have seen a step back, they have com! e a step forward. They have not been grateful, saying: Well, they have made a concession, so we will make a concession. No. Such things have no meaning in a confrontation with powers. Materialistic powers do not understand that. When they see that the other side has gone back a step, or is cowed, they feel that more pressure should be applied. The only thing that can safeguard Iran and the Islamic system is inner strength and a firm resolve for legitimate and logical defence. That is what has taken place in the past 25 years, without relying on others. Some people think that if we wish to say no to America, we should rely of Europe. They say: There is no difference between America and Europe. In the first place, there is a difference. Secondly, did we rely on the Soviet Union when we confronted America in the war (with Iraq)? They were enemies then. In practice, the enmity of the former Soviet Union towards us during the war was not less than that of America. It is not like that. If the nation conforms to the conditions for inner strength - the nation does; you and I should - the enemy cannot deal us blows. Of course, it plays tricks, makes things difficult, imposes costs on us. But reaching the lofty position of greatness and progress has a price. Finding greatness and loftiness is costly. Degradation is also costly. Is degradation not costly? Just take look at the Iraqi Ba'thists. An American officer takes away the wife of a Ba'thist officer and has his way with her and he does not dare to say anything. Is there any greater degradation? And they are paying the price. They have been debased and they are paying the price. That is the fate of an army that does not resist the enemy. Achieving greatness and loftiness and power also has a price, which should be paid. One should act, move forward. What I feel is that, in our short-sighted, personal experience, God's promise to us so far has been true. "And be steadfast in patience; for verily Allah will not suffer the reward of the righteous to perish" [Quranic verse! ]. Wherever we had faith, waited, resisted, the Almighty God did not l et us go unrewarded. Wherever we did not act we received blows, there were disruptions. It is the same now. The Almighty God said to his prophet: "Therefore, stand firm (in the straight path) as thou art commanded." [Quranic verse]
Resistance and steadfastness should be in a straight path; there should be no deviation from that straight path. That is our solution. That is the solution to Iran's problems. And you and I should pay attention to it. Of course, the ugly face of America's bullying has been exposed in the world today. That helps us. Warmongering American, Zionists Their slogans of human rights, democracy and such have become meaningless in the world today, because of what they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of the evil intentions that they have voiced. According to reports, at the meeting between the prime minister of the Zionist regime and the American president last week the American president present him with a map of Greater Israel, from the Nile to the Euphrates. What does that mean? How can Islamic countries believe their words? How can they regard America as an arbitrator in the Palestinian issue? That aggressive, bullying, usurping and wrong slogan - from the Nile to the Euphrates - was the cursed and condemned slogan of the Zionists. Recently they have denied it, saying: No, that is a lie, we have no such intentions. Now these American warmongers are advocating it. That has exposed them to the Muslim world. Even if some heads of Islamic or Arab states do not dare say anything, the nations understand, the nations hear, the nations will stand against them.
Development Plans Regarding the economy, what we attach importance to is economic progress; employment, which is a very important issue; reducing inflation; self-sufficiency in basic agricultural products, that is, the country's food security. They are very important and fundamental issues. In this period we must reach the desired level in that field. That is, we! should bring inflation down to single figures. Of course, in some of the countries mentioned, according to figures, inflation is very high. They have made some progress, but inflation is very high. It is intolerable. Life is very difficult in some of the countries mentioned, which I do not want to name. In the social field, development should be knotted to the people. The people should be the axis of development. Justice is definitely one of the main factors. Any planning and policy making that ignores justice and fair distribution of wealth in society cannot fulfil our desired goal. It is not our desired plan. That should be noted, especially by the planners. I say this, particularly since our brothers from the Management Organization are here, experts are here. They should note that the issue of social justice, economic justice and fair distribution of wealth must definitely be observed. We are not saying that everybody should earn the same. That is not the point. But we cannot overlook justice, which is one of the most fundamental factors in the Islamic Republic system. It should definitely be observed.
Eradicating poverty: Civil and legal security are also very important which should be noted. Freedom, in a logical and proper manner - not in an extremist way, not as an imitation - proper freedom, the banner of which the Islamic revolution and the Islamic system has raised in the Muslims world. The banner of freedom was raised by the Islamic republic. There should be freedom in society. Of course, there are many countries that proclaim freedom, shout slogans about it. But they have no freedom. Civil freedom is severely violated in some areas. It exists in Europe and in the United States of America, itself. In America there is freedom up to the point where it does not harm the basic interests of capitalists, who are the masterminds of the American system behind the scenes. If it is damaged in the slightest, freedom is heavily suppressed. And they pay no attention to anybody else. That is how it is. We believe in freedom. Our belief in freedom is deep-rooted and based on religion. Another point regarding social issues is safeguarding the rights of citizens. Diplomacy: There should be dynamism, having direction, actively participating in regional and international conventions and organizations. Scientific issues: What we have been saying and repeating for the past two or three years about software development and knowledge should be achieved. It is not a slogan. I am, of course, following it up with all the possible centres. But I do not do executive work. On the importance of constitution I recommend that the executive departments should perform the task of implementing projects. Praise be to God, this has started already. However, we must become more serious in innovating knowledge. We must develop new science in all spheres. The major part of our national power came from our morale of devotion. This morale demonstrated itself during the (Iran-Iraq) war as seeking martyrdom. Today, we are facing another battlefield which is more daunting and more ! difficult than the arena of war. And here we must raise the morale of devotion and self-sacrifice too. Such a morale will confuse all the equations designed by the enemies. If we were to boost this morale among ourselves, we would disturb all the equations of power balance in the world in our favour. On Islamic constitution The constitution resembled the pillars of a building. It is like the foundation of a structure. If we wanted to build a huge and high-rise structure, we would need to dig a foundation and erect pillars to determine the general shape of the structure. The constitution is the foundation and pillars of such a building. We have a constitution, which is our firm framework. Over the past 24 or 25 years much effort was undertaken to decorate inside of this lofty structure. We can offer it as an example to the rest of the world, but the enemies are concentrating all their efforts to prevent us from doing so. They therefore attack the foundations of this structur! e in order to demolish it. Of course, our ordinary laws are flexible. It is not wise for us to destroy the foundations in order to alter and modernize the routine laws. That is, one does not destroy the foundations when one wishes to alter the decoration inside a building. We must resolutely safeguard the foundations. The foundations were laid properly. We can see that in the world today there are nations with constitutions going back 200 to 300 years. The governments of these nations, which occasionally protest against the Islamic Republic, firmly safeguard their own constitutions. They clutch firmly to safeguard centuries old constitutions to protect them from harm. Let me give you an example. Last year, a group of so-called American intellectuals issued a statement to justify the warmongering policies of the American president and his gang. In that statement, the intellectuals laid emphasis on the American values based on the constitution of George Washington's era. Their values are therefore over 200 years old. The American values became a principle for them to justify their warmongering policies and even the application of atom bombs. During the same period George Bush threatened to drop bombs on several countries. See how committed they are to their values. However, when it comes to us and as we show commitment to our constitution and values, they accuse us of fundamentalism or describe us as reactionaries. In other words, the American fundamentalism is viewed as a positive virtue, whereas Islamic fundamentalism - based on logic, wisdom, experience and desire for independence - is condemned as some sort of debasement. Of course, they no longer use that term fundamentalism to describe us, instead they refer to us as conservatives.
They do not realize that in our country all groups are fundamentalists. There may be a handful of extremists here and there, but all the elements serving in various departments of our country are fundamentalists in essence. That is, everyone believes in the fundamental principles ! of our state and Islam. These principles must be highlighted and respe cted. World Trade Organization can wait The fourth development plan will ensure that the structure of our constitution is safeguarded in accordance with our principles. The next five-year development plan will be important because it pursues major objectives. However, it is also important to select the proper path so as to realize these objectives. It is not as if the objectives can be realized by adopting any method. No, we must choose the appropriate path. That is, if we were to follow certain paths, the enemies would be waiting in their quarantine and will not allow us - according to the interpretation of a friend - to proceed until they disarm us. We must not submit to disarmament. That is, we must follow the paths which do not lead to our disarmament from our genuine weapons. We must select the proper paths. Of course, the fifth plan has particular specifications. These specifications should be in line with the special circumstances of the country including its geograph! ic, historical and cultural features. We cannot imitate the method of approach adopted by other countries. Development plans cannot be based on imitation. It is wrong to assume that a certain path will ensure success just because another country pursued that path and achieved success. The planners should bear in mind our country's resources, possibilities, potentials and capabilities before choosing the paths. The next plan should not concentrate solely on economic objectives. It should consider cultural, security, spiritual and ethical values. The plan should proceed within the framework of our macro-economic and social development policies.
It must make certain that our state is not digested in the belly of the global economy. Please pay attention to this point. I have raised the same point once or twice before in the discussion about joining the World Trade Organization (WTO). In my opinion, joining the WTO will be a positive measure. However, we must join when we equip our country with the necessary infrastructure. At present, our country lacks such infrastructure. If we were to remove the trade tariffs to join the WTO, we would be digested in the body of a superior economy. It would be tantamount to us drowning and disappearing within that economy without the ability to compete. If that were to happen, we would destroy the existing domestic products which we have nurtured to grow with the toil of our nation's blood and sweat. Yes, the WTO is an immense arena for commercial activities, but we must have the ability to compete in this arena. In other words, we must learn to swim before jumping into the water. I said several days ago that joining without preparation would be the same as dispatching a football team to compete at the international games without any practice. Such a team would be defeated in the first match of the world cup when its goalkeeper fails to save 20 shoots of the ball. We must prepare ourselves and we must not be in a hurry. It does not matter if we have to wait for five or 10 years. It! will not be late. We must first prepare the economic foundations before joining. When we are certain about our ability to compete, we can join with peace of mind. Any recommendation to join now will be tantamount to being digested in the global economy and it will be a fatal blow for our national economy and independence. Need for unity, self-confidence In compiling the next five-year development plan, we must not lose our national self-confidence. The late Imam (Khomeini) used to say that believing in our capability was highly important. We have managed to achieve a lot despite all the hostilities against us. The mere survival, even if we had not managed to achieve something positive, would have been an accomplishment. However, we have performed many tasks and have had some valuable achievements. The enemies are unhappy with our achievements. They have therefore declared blatantly that they cannot bear to see the Islamic Republic reaching the superior technology, for inst! ance, in the nuclear field. There are other such examples. To be fair, in this country we have achieved a lot in various fields including cultivation of crops. We are capable and we must safeguard our self-confidence.
We must also safeguard our unity. I call on everyone to attach importance to the issue of safeguarding our harmony, unity and solidarity. This is one of the principles of our system. I am not addressing the nation over this issue, because the nation is united. There is no disagreement among the nation. I am addressing the elite and politicians from various factions. They should not confront one another because of minor pretexts and insignificant differences of opinion. They should not raise a hue and cry against each other resorting to wrong assumptions. A friend was telling me that the point I raised about the insiders and outsiders has been accepted by everyone, however, some people have altered the position of outsiders and insiders. I mean, you must trust an insider as a member of your clique. We must consider as insiders tho! se persons who are sympathetic towards our revolution, our state and Islam. The outsiders are the ones who are opposed to the principle of our state. Serve the people We should restrain our egos. Being in the positions that we are we shouldn't give in to pleasure, lust or wealth. We are passing through a significant juncture. It is historically important and significant. You should realize that all of us are under the scrutiny of people's judgment. They judge us and our actions. If we make mistakes, if we slip, if we give in to the pleasure, comfort or lust of this world, the revolution will pay a high price and it will be registered in our record and history. Of course, everything is obvious to the Creator.
I have also said that it is the same thing with serving the people. Serving the people has its own logic. We are basically here to serve the people. Our philosophy is to serve the people. It has been reported in traditions that the Islamic rulers - all of them, the mini! ster, the governor, the senior and the junior official, everyone - should treat people as a compassionate father threats his children. How would you feel if your child was suffering from sickness, cold, hunger, humiliation, insult and loneliness? Would you be able to tolerate it? You should feel the same if this was to happen to anyone anywhere in the country. We shouldn't be calm and tranquil. This is the meaning of serving the people. This is the meaning of the movement of providing service. Furthermore, we should inform the people about these services. People must be aware of the great things which have taken place so that they feel the pleasure. There should be financial discipline and war against corruption as well. These things are also necessary. There is a final point that I want to make. My time is running out and you should forgive me for holding you up for an hour. It is about the elections. The elections for the seventh Majlis are ahead of us. Usually, before elections there is some hue and cry, most of which is of a propaganda nat! ure. They are mostly for propaganda purposes or a prelude to propaganda. I ask all the three branches, the Majlis deputies, government officials, Judiciary officials, to try to maintain balance in the country's political situation, so that in a balanced atmosphere the people would be able to go to the polls. The people like elections. What drives the people away is the upsetting scenes they see in our ranks. A balanced and reasonable atmosphere. There is nothing wrong with critical dialogue. But discussion and hue and cry are not the same. In Islamic democracy discussion is different than the screaming and knife wielding you see in some democracies. They can talk, as the Imam (Khomeini) said, seminary talk. He said: Engage in seminary talk, in the Majlis and elsewhere. Talk, discuss, argue over issues. But do not bear a grudge against each other. You should not let differences of opinion to become fights. That fight would cause weakness. Lies, insults, offices accusing othe! r offices, spreading rumours, slandering rivals and provoking others a re not consistent with Islamic elections. I am addressing all the factions, not just a particular person or faction. It is the duty of us all. All the factions should observe this. They should all move within the framework of the law. Neither the Majlis, nor the Guardian Council, nor the Expediency Council, nor the president, nor the leadership, none of them have the right to break the law. Wherever the law has given a certain authority to a person or an organization, they should act in accordance with that authority. The enemy is tempted when there is a dispute between us. As it was in 1359 (1980). In 1359 the two trends that the fugitive, banished president (Abolhasan Bani-Sadr) started in the country tempted the enemy. They said: There is a dispute; they are at each other's throats. The enemy was tempted and invaded us. Of course, the enemy received a slap in the face. But there was damage. We were at war for eight years. Do not let the enemy be tempted by these disputes - and at times pretended disputes.
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