The Christmas message of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran was shown on British Channel 4 television at the prime-time of 7.15 p.m. on 25th December 2008. Because the substance of the message is known in advance, in an attempt to force Channel 4 to suppress the President’s message, islamophobics attacked Channel 4 television for allowing the broadcast, although it was shown at a different time to the Queen’s Christmas message, shown at the earlier time of 3.00 pm. Let us look at the substance of the President’s message and consider what the hullabaloo of the islamophobics is all about.
Jesus, son of Mary
The Qur’an recognises Jesus as the son of Mary and as a Prophet of God in line with the prophethood starting with Adam and ending with Muhammad (saw). Muslims refer to Jesus as Hazrat Issa, alayhi salaam (Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him). On the other hand, the New Testament considers Jesus as the Son of God. As far as Jesus is concerned, this is an irreconcilable difference between the two great faiths. However, although Jesus is an extremely important figure in Islam as one of the Prophets, the Qur’an devotes a whole chapter to his Mother, Mary (Mariam), (Chapter 19, called MARIAM), and elevates her as a perfected woman. This article is intended to look at the Christmas message of President Ahmadinejad, and put it in perspective of other reports and debates and not intended to be a debate on the two great religions.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered his Christmas message in Farsi with English subtitles. He wishes peace in the world and makes a case for greater spirituality among governments, leaders and society as a whole. He said :
« Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice. »
« If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers. »
« If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. »
« If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. »
The President says that God selected the most excellent amongst humans « as His Prophets to guide humanity » and « for the establishment of justice and for love in human society ». Referring to Jesus as the « Messenger of mercy », he says that, in line with Islam, Jesus will return to guide and lead the human race.
As expected, the UK Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor objected to the showing of his message on Channel 4 television. He argued that Channel 4 was « in search for ratings » and alleged that « In Iran, converts to Christianity face the death penalty » without any supporting evidence. For his part, Stephen Smith, director of the Holocaust Centre, complained that the President « openly denies the Holocaust ». It is to be noted that the President also stands accused of wanting to « wipe Israel off the map ». His message also allegedly « angered human rights campaigners ». All those allegations do not form part of the President Christmas message, but imported by detractors. In fact, Jewish Iranians have rejected Israeli invitations to settle in Israel because they say they are happy in Iran, their motherland.
The factual truth is that President Ahmadinejad never said Israel ‘should be wiped off the map’, nor did he ‘deny the holocaust’ as alleged. Those are merely Zionist propaganda repeated ad nauseum. However, the President did object to the creation of Israel in 1948 in Palestine, a sovereign country, involving the displacement and killings of Palestinians men, women, children and babies in favour of mainly imported Ashkenazi Europeans. The original idea was to create Israel in Uganda; at some point even Madagascar was considered.
On the subject of the « Jewish Holocaust », because historical accounts differ, President Ahmadinejad argued « that history should be researched properly and that there will be new things to discover about it » [ref. Interview with Channel 4, Sept 07]. There are many historians, such as David Irving, who dispute the Zionist version of events. The problem is that Zionist-controlled European countries such as France, Austria, do not want people to research the matter and they even passed fascist and dictatorial laws to force people to accept the Zionist hotly disputed version under pain of imprisonment. They call people who question the holocaust ‘holocaust deniers’ and ‘revisionists’, while, according to many international researchers, the truth appears to point in the opposite direction. It is argued that statistical records show that the number of Jewish Europeans in pre and post World War II years has not significantly changed. Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich was financed by the Jewish Bank Rothschild, and many Jewish Europeans even collaborated with Hitler. Also refer to the Havara Agreement, 24 October 1933, between Adolph Hitler and the Zionist Jews of Germany. Hence, the six million Jewish Europeans said to have been killed by the Nazis have been put in question, although the President accepted that many Jewish Europeans were indeed found among the 60 million people, including around 25 million Russians, who were killed during World War II.
In his interview given to ITN (Channel 4) interviewer Jon Snow at the President’s palace on 12 September 2007, the President stated that, if there had been such a Holocaust, it must also be established where it took place and what the Palestinians have got to do with it. He also said « Israel is an invader and is cruel, and it hasn't got a united public [..]. We do not recognize them. They are attackers and illegal ». He added that Israel « cannot continue its life » and argued for all Palestinians to be allowed to vote on their fate. He argued that Israel should have been created in a European country, such as Germany or Austria where the ‘alleged’ holocaust took place. In a separate speech, the President had also suggested to move Israel to North America or Alaska so that Palestine can be freed. He said that Europeans should shoulder the burden of Israel on their own lands and not in the Middle East.
The President also argued that in many European countries the Holocaust is placed above God whose existence can be questioned. To add insult to injury, in the Channel 4 programme « THE NATIVITY DECODED » shown at 7.30 pm on 25th December 2008 just after the President’s Christmas message, Professor Israel Knohl of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem even went to the extent of questioning Mary’s virginity and argued that she was probably raped by the Roman occupiers. It is well known that Jews (Hebrews) who were given hospitality in Palestine never accepted Jesus as the Messiah and demanded his death.
Given this background, one can therefore clearly see why President Ahmadinejad’s Christmas message, however true it may be, has not gone down well with Israel and her supporters. It does seem strange that human rights campaigners sould object to the President’s message rather than to the human rights abuses in occupied Palestine. However, Rabbi Aaron Goldstein of Liberal Judaism finds no problem « with Channel 4 dealing with difficult issues ». Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s Head of News and Current Affairs, defended the television’s decision to broadcast President Ahmadinejad’s Christmas message, and said « As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view. Channel 4 has devoted more airtime to examining Iran than any other broadcaster and this message continues a long tradition of offering a different perspective on the world around us. »
M Rafic Soormally
25 December 2008