The Spring of Islamic Fundamentalism
To what extent should an Islamic leader be trusted when he proclaims his intention to act in keeping with all the requirements of a democratic political system and to respect the principles of religious and political freedom?
The ability of the American media to ignore a "politically incorrect" event, regardless of its importance, is familiar. One of the best examples is the invitation issued by President Obama to the President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, to pay an official visit to the United States during the September session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The most frequently asked question in the immediate aftermath of the presidential elections in Egypt is: To what extent should an Islamic leader be trusted when he proclaims his intention to act in keeping with all the requirements of a democratic political system? Also, how much should an Islamic leader be trusted when he promises to respect the principles of religious and political freedom?
What, for instance, is the value of the following statement: "Islamic clerics will help lead the Revolution but then they step aside to let others rule"? Or: "Criticism of the Islamic Government will be tolerated."?
Oops..! Sorry for the mistake! Those were not the words of the newly elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. These encouraging thoughts were expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini on September 25, 1978, just four months before his triumphant return to Teheran.
What Khomeini then did is well known; there is no need to repeat it here. On August 18, 1979, however -- less than a year after his pro-democracy statements -- the thoughts of the powerful dictator of Iran had acquired a different direction. When he addressed the participants in the demonstrations of some disappointed former young supporters, the angry cleric issued the following warning: "I repeat for the last time: "Abstain from holding meetings, from blaspheming, from public protests. Otherwise I will break your teeth." (...)