By Ramin Mazaheri and crossposted with PressTV
(Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.’)
Last Friday the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, led Friday prayers in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque for the first time in eight years.
For Iran it has been a January full of unjust tragedies provoked by Western aggression.
Adding insult to injury, Iranians watch the West try to spin their murderous violence into evidence of Iranian cultural failure.
Khamenei’s speech aimed to inspire a Iranian populace depressed at the lack of justice in global politics, and also aimed to politically analyse this dangerously critical time in global affairs.
And yet what the Western press took from the key speech was an offhand remark – Khamenei referred to US President Donald Trump as a “clown”. Every major Western media led with this remark, as if it constituted a prelude to war…. like it was an assassination or something.
I can’t believe the Western press truly finds the remark so insulting – every day across the English-speaking world Trump is called a “clown” (or worse) by thousands of politicians and columnists. Instead, I think they seized on that remark because they absolutely do not want to engage in any serious discussion about the recent tragedies created by Western aggression.
That is not new: four decades of Iranophobia has meant ignoring, distorting or reducing to a caricature the Iranian view of real-life, life-and-death political situations.
Oh well. Who really cares what the Western elite thinks?
Contrarily, people care what Khamenei has to say on ethics and politics, at least in the Muslim world.
Inside the full mosque were all the top Iranian politicians and military brass, who kneeled or sat cross-legged during his sermon. Outside the mosque was an enormous crowd, bundled up in the winter cold of mountainous Tehran.
It is very unfortunate that politically-minded Westerners have probably never taken – due to the Iranophobia and Islamophobia campaigns – just two minutes to seriously consider the words and ideas of Khamenei, the man who for decades has led the world’s most successful resistance to ever-more brutal Western capitalism-imperialism.
Can Western elite not stomach considering just one sermon every 8 years?
Listening to Khamenei is very different from listening to other politicians, as I must often do for my job.
Even if you disagree with Khamenei’s political views, he will at least tell you something about how to live your life better – he is a preacher and focused on such things. So he actually doesn’t waste your time, but it’s his humility which is such a refreshing change from Trump’s clowning and French President Emmanuel Macron’s (in)elegant elitism.
I usually learn nothing from the speeches of most Western politicians – most are filled with shameless lies, which then get relayed unquestioned by the Western Mainstream Media. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is a rare exception (and maybe not even a “Western politician?).
The moral part of Khamenei’s speech was based around Koranic verses from the chapter titled “Abraham”: Prophet Mohammad discussed how Moses had reminded the Jews of the inspiration, resilience and patience they had required to find their way out of the darkness of Egyptian murderousness, and that thanks must still be given despite any current tribulations. Remembering the blessing of being free from political despotism is the key, and the only way to receive even more blessings.
The fact that after Iranian General Qassem Soleimani’s assassination Iran’s top leaders are sitting around meditating on the virtues of Jews is completely unsurprising to anyone remotely aware of the tenets of Islam – however, I imagine that it is shocking to Westerners misled by ignorant Islamophobia.
It was an astute selection by Khamenei: Due to the tragedies of recent weeks it is not easy for Iranians to remember how very recently they, too, lived under the yoke of domineering bullies in London and Washington.
So, of course the West prefers to focus on Khamenei calling Trump a “clown” – they hardly want to remind anyone of such brutal realities from four decades ago. Indeed, they don’t want to remind anyone of brutal realities just three or four weeks ago.
Where are the higher sentiments from Western ‘humanist’ politicians?
Western secularism forbids openly drawing political lessons from religious sources, no matter how necessary and pragmatically useful such lessons might be.
Therefore, one would expect Western “humanist” politicians to often quote from some of their favourite literature and meditate publicly on that – surely they need lofty inspiration from somewhere, no?
Trump, famously, does not read anything.
If Macron has ever deeply discussed in public the finer thoughts of Western humanist works I am not aware of it – it is possible that he has fashionably name-dropped some of France’s favourite far-right thinkers, like Louis-Ferdinand Céline or Charlie Hebdo.
The West’s tabloid nature – both politically and journalistically – does a great disservice to the intellectual, emotional and ethical needs of their people. It primes them to greedily seize upon zero-calorie nonsense – such as yet another independent confirmation of Trump’s clownish presidency – rather than discuss more important things during such a critical and dangerous time.
Superficial nonsense is not Khamenei’s style. Politically, he focused on the shocking disgrace of the US due to their latest assassination – of Soleimani and his Iraqi comrades.
Khamenei pointed out that the US kills so very many, many people in the Muslim World and yet they never openly admit it. For example, every Afghan wedding party bombing is always a “tragic accident”.
Such dishonesty really rankles Khamenei – it has always seemed to me that he takes as a personal insult the “arrogance” Washington displays by assuming that nobody can see right through the lies and omissions regarding their dastardly war crimes. However, Khamenei noted that Washington had no choice but to be honest about their shocking slaying of Soleimani and his Iraqi counterparts.
And what could be more disgraceful than openly admitting that you are a terrorist?
Thus, the political aspect of Khamenei’s sermon focused on the tremendous disgrace being heaped upon the US and their system.
Again, across the West they preferred to focus on the offhand “clown” remark rather than Khamenei’s far-reaching analysis: Soleimani’s death is actually a mighty blow against the West because there is no way the US can undo the damage done to their image.
It is undoubtedly accurate.
Americans might be subjected to analyst after analyst rationalising the brutal, inhuman slaying – and the Orwellian attempt to call an anti-terror hero a “terrorist” – but nobody outside the US believes such nonsense for a moment. And certainly not in the Muslim World, where the US is (allegedly) trying to “win over hearts and minds”, as Washington so often puts it.
Khamenei’s analysis is astute – anyone who knows anything about Shia culture and modern Iranian culture knows that Soleimani’s death will inevitably become to be viewed as an inspiration, not a failure.
Western journalists seem to only want to talk about a few things – the environment (a political issue which contains zero class component), celebrity culture and how Trump is a clown. When Khamenei says the last one – for some reason it is big news.
That is not the big news.
What is important is the slaying of Soleimani, the Washington-provoked war climate which caused the downing of the Ukrainian airliner, and the duplicitous refusal of the US and Europe to uphold their end of the JCPOA treaty on Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran has a deeply-embedded revolutionary culture which repeatedly puts the focus on serious things, and that will not change. What will also likely not change is the tabloid, empty focus of Western journalists and politicians.
What is unfortunate for Iran and the Muslim World is that such a focus gives them so much cover to commit so much war and misery.
Khamenei gave the West a once-in-decade chance to listen and understand why he commands so much international respect – they foolishly chose to fault him for saying something which seemingly all the world has been saying for three consecutive years.
Khamenei’s political intelligence is abundantly available online, in case Western journalists ever get serious. He does talk about Islam, which some non-believers will intolerantly get hung up on, but he also spends an equal amount of time talking about stolen natural resources, the vital importance of international resistance to colonialism, standing strong against any form of tyranny, and protecting the dignity of the oppressed.
Khamenei’s speeches are so refreshing precisely because I never hear such ideas from Western politicians, even though they endlessly talk about the alleged moral superiority of Western humanism.
Perhaps the sad reality which the West doesn’t want to admit is: they no longer care about such ideas.