Open Letter to Ahmadinejad
by Stephen Schwartz
To: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim, blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and upon his House, peace.
I write in response to your letter dated 29 November 2006 and directed to the people of the United States. As an ordinary American citizen, with no official responsibilities, I will address you similarly, without titles or salutations referring to your political status in your country.
You have taken to sending pretentious communications to Americans, including President George W. Bush himself, apparently without realizing that such an exercise in publicity-seeking does little credit to you or to the Iranian people.
Yet you address the American people as a "noble" people. I consider the Iranian people, also, a noble people. I am an American Muslim and for more than 40 years have been an admirer of the Iranian heritage and the followers of Ahl-ul-Bayt (the family of Prophet Muhammad, pbuh), as specially represented by the Shia sect.
I know the justifiable pride that Iranian Shia take in their devotion to classical logic and other pre-Islamic philosophy, to the works of outstanding Islamic men of wisdom such as al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, and to the achievements of the Persian Sufi poets.
I wonder, then, why your letters are characterized by such pedestrian ramblings and twists of illogic.
Since your latest letter, stripped of its rhetoric, consists of a series of questions, I will attempt both to answer your questions and raise new ones.
You have chosen to aggravate the isolation and ostracism of the great Iranian people, and the difficulties faced by the Shia Muslims, who are daily slain in Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere. You have done this by adopting the bizarre and disreputable project of undermining the memory of the genocidal tragedy that befell the European Jews—religious believers in their majority—at the hands of the pagan, idolatrous, and antireligious Hitler regime. You have invited a despicable assortment of demagogues and other crazy people to Iran to "debate" this undebatable reality.
Do you not understand that no other government in the world—not even that of Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia—involves itself in such disgusting propaganda?
Do you not understand that the Jews who were massacred in the Holocaust were killed only because of their monotheistic faith, and that such an unparalleled crime should horrify and repulse Muslims and inspire solidarity with the Jewish victims?
Do you not understand that Hitlerism, which you apparently wish to equate with resistance to imperialism, was in reality the most ferocious and evil form of imperialism in modern times?
I know that Iranian Muslims wept with shared pain when the peace-loving and virtuous Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina were attacked by Serbian fascists. Do you really not know that the same ideology that resulted in the Holocaust of the Jews brought about the horrific deaths of innocent elders and children, men and women, in the Balkan wars of the 1990s? And has nobody ever told you that American Jewish leaders were foremost in calling for military action to defend the Balkan Muslims, the faithful people who alone represent a permanent, historic Muslim presence in Europe?
You also issue allegations about the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Yet you implicitly admit that the foreign policy of the U.S., including its relations with Israel and the Palestinians, is subject to open and continuous debate in the U.S.—the kind of debate woefully absent in Iran today.
When will the Iranian people see a public debate over your squandering of resources in support of the adventurist and totalitarian Hasan Nasrallah, a national discussion of the kind that is the norm in the U.S. and inside the Jewish state?
You insult the American people by alleging that our government is controlled by Zionists. But your nation is held hostage by Palestinian Arabs who despise Iranians, and who hold Shias in deep contempt. The same Palestinian Arabs to whom you express such warmth and provide military and financial support exult in the murder of Iraqi Shias and the devastation of their holy places. Did nobody ever tell you how Yasser Arafat, an atheist and Marxist, once commented, "Alhamdulillah [Praise God], we have neither Shias nor malarial mosquitoes in Palestine"?
You admit, "Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure." Why do you not extend gratitude to the American people whose sons and daughters were killed in the liberation of Iraq alongside those sent from other Christian-majority nations?
You state, "Iraq [now] has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government." Are you really so obtuse as to imagine that this was not purchased by the world at the price of American and Coalition blood, as well as that of the Iraqi martyrs to Ba'athist and Wahhabi terrorism?
Is this how you will honor the example of Imam Husayn, peace be upon him, whose martyrdom at Karbala will be remembered on the Day of Ashura (the 10th of Muharram) only a week from now, on the 29th of January 2007?
You should begin your communication with Americans in a spirit of Islamic appreciation for the sacrifices Americans and other people from distant, non-Muslim lands have made for the freedom of Karbala and Najaf, beloved to the Shias of the world.
But Karbala is worth less to you than an opportunity to insult the memory of the Jewish people, as well as the dignity of the American president.
Bear in mind, with the approach of Ashura, that Jews and Persians alike are ancient peoples with a long common history.
Remember, as you grieve for Imam Husayn (pbuh), the blood that has poured out of the bodies of American and Coalition men and women in arms, who put themselves in harm's way to ensure the freedom of the Shias of Iraq. Do not endanger the new Iraq by permitting your associates to disrupt the stabilization of that country, and do not allow Karbala to once again escape Shia control.
The noble Iranian people pronounced a severe judgment on you and your reactionary fantasies in the December local elections, when your supporters received a small minority of votes cast by your fellow-citizens. This was a verdict much harsher than that delivered on the administration of President Bush, about which you comment impudently.
O Mahmoud! Let the workers, students, honest religious scholars, and Sufis of Iran be successful in their demands for dismantling of the failed clerical regime!
But above all, recall at Ashura how the sister of Husayn (pbuh), Hazrat Zeynab, spoke to the Muslims in the aftermath of her brother's atrocious death: "The memory of those who die for freedom and liberty of Islam takes firm root in the heart of humanity and there it lives on forever."
Some 3,000 Americans have died for the freedom and liberty of Islam in Iraq.
Do not forget it.
Stephen Suleyman Ahmad Schwartz