TEHRAN, Iran — A radical cleric called Saturday for the creation of a "Greater Iran" that would rule over the entire Middle East and Central Asia, in an event that he said would herald the coming of Islam's expected messiah.
Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Kharrazi said the creation of what he calls an Islamic United States is a central aim of the political party he leads called Hezbollah, or Party of God, and that he hoped to make it a reality if they win the next presidential election.
Kharrazi's comments reveal the thinking of a growing number of hard-liners in Iran, many of whom have become more radical during the postelection political crisis and the international standoff over the country's nuclear program. Kharrazi, however, is not highly influential in Iran's clerical hierarchy and his views do not represent those of the current government.
Kharrazi's comments were published Saturday in his newspaper, Hezbollah.
He said he envisioned a Greater Iran that would stretch from Afghanistan to Israel, bringing about the destruction of the Jewish state. (From the Huffington Post, Saturday, May 15, 2010)
We have heard these rumblings before. However, the announced spread of an Islamic theocracy throughout the Middle East, with the elimination of the Jewish state is neither acceptable nor even able to be contemplated.
With radical Imams in Great Britain calling publicly for the takeover of Buckingham Palace and turning it into a Muslim mosque, leaving the Queen the option either of converting to Islam or leaving the country, and now with this radicalized vision of the future of the Islamic world, among many other events and rumours of plans of violence, there is no country of the world, and no citizen of the world that can be detached from these pronouncements.
Apocalyptic visions of the return of the messiah have been rejected for centuries in other religions, and we must view this pronouncement with enhanced suspicion and intense watchfulness and rigour.
All of us must speak out against such a vision!
And we must do it with vigour, with reason and with haste!
Listening to a Montreal 'hockey mom," Harvard PhD, Muslim feminist, and columnist for the Globe and Mail, Sheema Khan, on the Allen Gregg interview show on TVO earlier today, one would have to wonder about the capacity of such a compassionate and intelligent and reassuring voice to be "under the same tent" as the radical cleric from Tehran.
Seeking common purpose in human rights, and seeking not to impose a third world vision of Islam in Canada or the West, Ms Khan argued for a Canadian application of her faith.
Yet how can we non-Muslims actually hear her reasonable message, amid the constant drum-beat of such a radical vision as that coming from Hezbollah?