Khatami asked about treatment of Iranian Baha'is on Australia visit

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Editor’s Note: Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami recently spoke at the Australian National University in Canberra. As he turned to the audience for questions, he was asked about Iran’s treatment of the Baha’is. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

No answers yet, but talk is solution in Middle East: Khatami

After an optimistic, apolitical and somewhat abstract speech calling for global dialogue, the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami turned to the audience for questions.

Immediately the gathering in Canberra turned to the vexed and somewhat murky questions of the Middle East conflict, Afghanistan and Iranian treatment of Baha’is and women.

Asked about possible coexistence with Israel, Dr Khatami, who was speaking at the Australian National University yesterday, called for greater co-operation and respect in the Middle East, but did not refer specifically to relations with Israel.

“The crisis should be resolved through a global approach with respect to the rights of all nations,” he said. “It requires global will. If such a solution based on justice would be realised … we would be able to reach stable peace in the region.”

Asked about the treatment of the Baha’i minority in his country, Dr Khatami said Iran tolerated all religions but admitted there had been some unjust imprisonment of innocent people. “Nobody would be able to claim that in my country there is nobody incarcerated without any crime. For sure there would be such cases … Nobody should be incarcerated because of their beliefs.”

The visit of Dr Khatami, who is a guest of the ANU and La Trobe University, angered some Jewish groups and prompted calls to boycott an interfaith meeting in Victoria. The Federal Government had not decided yesterday whether it would meet with Dr Khatami, although Victoria’s Premier, John Brumby, last week ruled out a meeting.

The former prime minister Malcolm Fraser spoke last night, thanking Dr Khatami for the address and welcoming the call for greater dialogue.

Mr Fraser also welcomed calls by the US President, Barack Obama, for dialogue with Iran and said debate on issues such as Iraq and the Middle East were often more vigorous in the US and Israel than in Australia.

“There’s a new President with a new approach. If President Obama’s initiative [receives] a positive response it will lead to a much more stable Middle East and a much more stable world …

“On Middle East policy there are clearly those who have very firm views. They demand they will be accepted before they enter dialogue.”

[Source: http://www.smh.com.au/national/no-answers-yet-but-talk-is-solution-in-middle-east-khatami-20090324-98×7.html. Another article was published by the Brisbane Times at http://news.brisbanetimes.com.au/breaking-news-national/israel-iran-can-coexist-says-khatami-20090324-9915.html]

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21 Responses

  1. RM

    March 24, 2009 8:17 pm

    Re: Baha’is: a weak, lame, intellectually dishonest response on the one hand; on the other, coming from one who to this day supports the regime and the system of the Rule of the Religious Jurisprudent (“vilayat-i faqih”), it could be seen as a downright progressive attitude on his part! Take your pick.

    In this atmosphere of brutality and state-sponsored hatred and physical violence and intended genocide, though, I take it as the double-speak of a dishonest clergyman running till last week for President of the so-called Islamic so-called Republic of Iran. I suppose in the face of so many facts and so much press coverage, he decided he did not want to be laughed out of town, so he decided to give in a little bit.

    Reply
  2. Adam

    March 24, 2009 9:44 pm

    All mullahs are the same. There is no difference between them. They all pledge allegience to their Flag and Fagieh! Their sole purpose is to use Islam as a front to do away with all who they consider “impure”. That includes billions of people from religions other than Shiat sect of the Sword (Islam).

    Mullahs have their plans and their “flag” with the world cut in half on it by their blood stained “sword” and God has His own with mullahs identified on it with black turban (Gog) and white turban (Magog) -Ezekiel 38:1.

    Needless to say Khatami’s trip to down under to show a softer side of his “sword” for my neck did nothing to change my mind about him and the true nature of mullahs. There is a reason why the sword on their flag is red. It is stained with the blood of the innocent people they sacrifice every day in the Islamic Heaven.

    Reply
  3. Fraydon

    March 24, 2009 10:11 pm

    Kayhan newspaper called him a “doctor” when he ran for president in 97. Kayhan made Sayed Ali and Ali Akbar “ayatollah” also. So they have a track record for doing this sort of thing. However Kayhan failed to specify whether he is a human doctor or an animal doctor. I think since he can’t write a prescription for either humans or animals or even mullahnomics that he must be a book doctor, PhD. I hope he is not like our Dr Kordan who served in the cabinet with a fake degree he’d bought from Oxford over the Internet. Kayhan blew the whistle on that one. It pays to pay Kayhan.

    Reply
  4. Reza

    March 24, 2009 10:27 pm

    Why ask him about the treatment of Baha’is in Iran? Just look at his record while he was president. Nothing has changed since then.

    You should have asked him “when are you going to emancipate the Baha’is in Iran?” These mullahs are masters of deceptions. It’s a waste of time to ask them soft questions. You have to squeeze them in public forums so they run away screaming.

    Reply
  5. Ahmad

    March 24, 2009 10:54 pm

    Under Khatami’s presidency humans in Iran lost all their rights to mullahs. He facilitated all of that and still shows no remorse. If he did, he would be protesting in front of Evin for release of ALL prisoners including Iranian bloggers instead of traveling to Australia to polish the image of Islamic Republic. The same republic that kills human rights activists and bloggers and innocent Iranians everyday.

    Reply
  6. LizKauai

    March 24, 2009 11:04 pm

    In most cases, looking forward to act from now on in the best interests of the peoples of the world (all-inclusive) will be more productive than unraveling the “justifications” for acts in the past.

    I like the way the dialogue is changing.

    Reply
  7. Barmak Kusha

    March 25, 2009 1:15 am

    But dear Liz,
    Baha’u’llah even himself says “The best-beloved of all things in my sight is justice; turn not away therefrom.”

    The name of the highest Baha’i institution is the Universal House of Justice.

    Justice has to be done.

    The victims can choose to forgive the guilty in their hearts, in fact that is the right thing to do, the Baha’i teachings say, but those same teachings say that society is a different thing, and that society has to hold individuals to account and bring them to justice, and should try the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide, or else the foundation of society is hollow.

    Baha’u’llah says social order has to be founded on reward and punishment. Again, as individuals we are to treat our persecutors kindly and as a healing balm to them if they are a salty thorn to our wounds, but society MUST bring justice to the wrongdoer. These are two different things.

    The message of Baha’ullah is not just the message of Christ; his is a message for social AND individual transformation.

    Your brother…

    Reply
  8. Soheil

    March 25, 2009 4:40 am

    The mullah regime in Iran is 30 years old and Khatami was the president of this Apartheid regime for 8 years or 26.666% of it’s life. Beside paving the way for Ali Khamanei to crush Iranians under his feet and solidify his position as Suprme Ruler of the worlds only Apartheid regime, Khatami did nothing positive worth mentioning in the lives of ordinary Iranians. His inability to stand firm on issues and his failing to stand up to Khamanei out of fear of being jailed in Evin kept him from leaving any positive foot prints in Iran. Khatami considers himself the Gundhi and Nelson Mandela of Iran!!! I suppose one has to compare their lives and imprisonment to Khatami’s to see the similarties.

    Reply
  9. sb

    March 25, 2009 11:35 am

    Dr Khatami said regarding the Middle East: “The crisis should be resolved through a global approach with respect to the rights of all nations . . . It requires global will. If such a solution based on justice would be realised … we would be able to reach stable peace in the region.”

    Regarding the Baha’is and other prisoners of conscience in Iran, he said, “Nobody should be incarcerated because of their beliefs.”

    Dr. Khatami: The world emphatically agrees with you, but words are not enough.

    Has the global outcry by governments, interantional human rights organizations, Iranian intellectuals and artists, and concerned individuals necessitated some damage control from the IRI, a little PR, perhaps? Hasn’t Khatami always been the (ever so slightly) kinder face of the IRI?

    As a someone said earlier, there is still time for Iran to do the right thing.

    Dr. Khatami, show the world (even incrementally), that Iran means what it has said by your visit to Australia. Release all prisoners of conscience in Iran. Begin a meaningful dialogue with the U.S. The world will celebrate your humanity.

    Isn’t it time?

    Reply
  10. afshin

    March 25, 2009 2:58 pm

    well, i have to say khatami was less brutal towards Baha’is than Ahmadinejad. That only means he did not put into jail many of them and did not kill them. The situation with deprivation from higher education, and governmental jobs was the same, during his time. In other words, he perhaps agreed with cultural-economical pressure, but not with physical assault. that makes him more human than his successor. Everything is relative!

    Reply
  11. Nasser

    March 25, 2009 3:27 pm

    Khatami talks about action. But he needs to show the world what he means by “action.” The best way for him would be to put on a suit and tie and throw away the symbol of oppression of Iranians (the turban and the cloak). His next “action” should be to go to Dr Shirin Ebaddi’s office upon his return from Australia to Tehran and organize a massive march to Evin to release ALL prisoners. His next “action” should be to call for full implementation of the Bill of Rights of Cyrus the Great in Iran. That would prove once and for all that he is Iranian to the bone. After that he should find an assylum for Khamanei, preferrably in England. This is ACTION Mr Khatami. All these other forms of action is Farce and bunch of hot air.

    Reply
  12. Mark Obenauer

    March 26, 2009 2:01 am

    I hope that every IRI representative or person associated past or present with the IRI are asked about the treatment of Iran’s religious minorities every which way she or he turns – because these questions need to be asked endlessly. Until there is an answer that has some real meaning, these questions need to be asked of these officials. They need to be asked: “what is your opinion about bulldozing Sufi houses of worship? Do you feel it is meritorious to desecrate Baha’i’ cemeteries and persecute the dead who are resting and at peace? What did they do to you? Do you feel it is an act of worship to Allah to have teachers torment Baha’i’ children in public school? Do you feel it is progressive to deny qualified Baha’i’s the right to go to a University to become physicians and engineers and teachers and social workers and scholars and scientists? Why don’t they have this right? Do you feel it is an act of tactful diplomacy to imprison and torture a Persian-Canadian journalist? It happened during your term in office, Mr. Khatami. Do you have a tape of this lady being interrogated? This would make great entertainment for the Iranian public who love and admire you so much. Is it fun to assassinate Sunni Imams so that you can impose the Ithna’ Asharriyah creed on Sunni Baluchis? Is the IRI taping the bulldozing of Baluchi Sunni mosques and the desecration of priceless Qurans in Baluchistan? I thought that you revered the very book of the Quran. Don’t the Sunni’s have the same Quran? Is it fun to bulldoze and leave homeless Baha’i’ families? What is it about the graffiti threatening their lives? It must just be some childish prank, would you agree? Do you tape this for public entertainment? What really do you have against Baha’i’s? I did not know that Islam had a doctrine that caused a caste to be untouchable because some of you are afraid to have any contact with Baha’i’? Is it meritorious to keep people in Evin prison for over a year without being allowed counsel (they do have a lawyer)? And why does it take over a year in Iran for justice to be served since you have all the evidence? I guess if these people are untouchables they don’t have any rights so it really doesn’t matter. Am I correct that the IRI doesn’t feel they exist? Why can’t Baha’i’s own businesses in Iran? I guess since they are untouchables and don’t exist, they don’t need to make a living. Is this correct? Why does the IRI execute converts to Evangelical Christianity or other religions? It seem your religion is all about bloodshed and murder and stoning and death, so if your religion is all about murder and death, don’t they have a reason to convert to another religion? Can you really classify them as apostates?” Every way they turn IRI officials need to be asked these questions because their picture is everywhere. This is their badge of honor: to be reminded everywhere they turn about their culpability in the suffering of countless innocent people. They are the shame of Cain, the iniquity of Jezebel, and the notoriety of Mengele.

    Reply
  13. Fariba

    March 26, 2009 3:54 am

    Mr Khatami, you spoke of holocaust of Palestinians while in Australia. For your information under your royal turbans for the past 30 years, 1,000,000 Iranians have been killed and tortured in Islamic Republic with many more added to the list everyday.

    Mr Khatmi, you and your kind have holocaust written all over your faces Just read the latest human rights report. You and your turban kind have caused the holocaust of Iranian women. But rest assured that when the day of judgement arrives for your kind in Iran, it will be Iranian women judges and juries you will be begging forgiveness from all while crawling on your hands and knees. That day is the REAL day of judgment for you and your tueban kind!

    Reply
  14. Roya

    March 26, 2009 4:27 pm

    You go girl! “Soft” revolution from the bedroom to the courtroom!! I’m sure on that day liberated Iranian women will teach these turbans a befitting lesson for their centuries of stoning us to death.

    Reply
  15. Mark Obenauer

    March 26, 2009 9:19 pm

    I am sorry but I should have been more all inclusive: IRI official past and present need to be asked every which way they turn about the mistreatment of women, secular humanists, free-thinkers, dissidents, and religious minorities. They need to be asked about their human rights abuses endlessly. And I pray some sincerely repent of their corrupt and devilish behavior before the Judgment Day!

    Reply
  16. Fullback

    March 28, 2009 9:38 am

    When a person ask about treatment of religiuos minoriyies in iran By the Islamist Thugs occupying Iran , My answer is : Look and see how these Thugs treat Iranian Moslems!!!
    Iranians are good hearted people That is why the Cabbage heads are taking them for a ride in the past 30 years.
    The only way for Iranians to free themelves from these Thugs is through arm struggle. Nothing short of an Arm rebellion will do . Once and for all Iranians must stand up to the ARAB invasion.

    Reply
  17. Nasser

    March 28, 2009 2:57 pm

    Armed rebellion? Buddy you are not only in the wrong forum you are on the wrong side of history. As Baha’is we use our pens. They are a million times mightier than any man made weapon. Spilling blood is not the solution. If it was we surely would have had peace not only in Iran but throughout the world by now. Reforming the human mind to argue points without resorting to violance is the key. That’s our weapon. That is what differentiates the people of Baha from all others. We speak our minds but will never spill the blood of another human being to get them to agree with our views. That is the path of the champion builders of the world order of Baha’u’llah. Whoever deviates from this path, simply put, is not a Baha’i regardless of what s/he says. This is a covenant that is not breakable. One of the first things anyone who says they are Baha’i must do is renounce violance and bloodshed. Non-violance educational approach with good will for all is the Baha’i approach. Even toward those who have killed and persucted the innocent, as God is the ultimate judge!

    As for your “Arab” comment. No one selects what part of this world and what family they are going to be born into. Therefore berating humans based on their place of birth is wrong. We Baha’is have way passed that stage of human evolution. We believe “the world is one country and mankind its citizens.” God, the creator never drew boundaries between lands. Why should we? We love the world with all its imperfections and work toward its betterment one heart at a time.

    Reply
  18. Mark Obenauer

    March 30, 2009 2:50 am

    People, regardless of their religious ideology or philosophical world-view are oppressed in a totalitarian State, such as Iran. So much has to do with how broad a tent of opinion is accepted by such a government. Historically I don’t believe there has been a totalitarian government that allowed for freedom of thought because what is allowed is a narrow philosophical outlook or religious world-view. We have had enlightened despots in Western History such as Maria Theresa Habsburg, but even she lacked tolerance of faiths other than her Roman Catholicism and she expelled Jews from Prague during her reign of the Habsburg empire. And Empress Maria Theresa was much gentler than many other despots. All the same, whether totalitarianism is an enlightened despot or a monster such as Stalin or Hitler, there is a narrowness of what is acceptable thought, whether religious or philosophical. And this is decided by the State authority, whether a dictator or oligarchy. So Fullback, you are correct that in a totalitarian State many people will feel oppressed, not just persecuted religious minorities.

    The big question is how change will be affected. If it will be through a violent revolution or a velvet revolution, I hope for the latter. Armed struggle will only create more wrongs in an attempt to right the injustices. I hope that for the first time in history, violence doesn’t somehow precipitate the downfall of a totalitarian State. Now the fall of the Soviet Union was sort of non-violent, but there was a coup, and the aftermath hasn’t exactly been peaceful. So I pray that there is a change in administration that is truly non-violent, and that this new administration will protect religious and philosophical minorities.

    I can’t do anything about your Arab prejudice, but I must say that the Arabs are not responsible for what is going on in Iran. And if you want to go back 1500 years to that golden age, it really didn’t exist. The Sassanids were pretty despotic also. They persecuted religious and philosophical minorities and they squandered massive resources in their hopes for a larger empire.

    Reply
  19. Mark Obenauer

    March 30, 2009 3:04 am

    And the best change that could take place is a philosophical shift within the present Iranian leadership. It may seem impossible, but God willing, all things are possible.

    Reply

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