Why is it that whenever controversy erupts in England, the press must refer to it as a row? Latest example: “Ahmadinejad Christmas address to U.K. viewers sparks angry row.” Instead, I’d say it a warranted outrage. (I know I’m a bit late on this, but I’m just now catching up.)
Let’s not forget who the Iranian president is, what he’s said and what he stands for. And he’s the guy that Channel 4 invited to give its “alternative Christmas message” as a counterpoint to Queen Elizabeth? Bollocks.
Not surprisingly, the British government was ripe ticked about the whole affair.
The text of Ahmadinejad’s address, which can be read here, appears somewhat benign. But reading between the lines, I had a similar reaction to that of Times of London religion reporter Ruth Gledhill:
Channel 4, as far as motives are concerned, can perhaps be given the benefit of the doubt. Their intentions might be honourably Christian.
But as the adage goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
This is an example of the ecumenical impulse being taken to dangerous extremes.
In his message, Ahmadinejad says: “If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.”
On December 8, 2005, Ahmadinejad gave an interview with Iran’s Arabic channel ‘Al-Alam’ in Mecca in which he said: “Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps. Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, if the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe - like in Germany, Austria or other countries - to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe.”
In his Channel 4 message, the President of Iran continues: “If Christ was 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.”
The same man has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, has repeatedly said the Holocaust is a fake, and is widely believed to be close to having a nuclear bomb. A few days ago, during an anti-Israel rally in Tehran, he warned that Israel had reached the end of the line and would soon “fade away from the Earth.”
In his Christmas Day message to the British people, however, Ahmadinejad does not name Israel but goes on to speak in comparable eschatological terms of what is to come.
“We believe, Jesus Christ will return, together with one of the children of revered messenger of Islam and would lead the world to a rightful point; to a world of love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ and followers of Abrahamic faiths is to move towards that and to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age. I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the Earth.”
Although a cursory reading of the message might at first indicate so, a devout Muslim can surely not be embracing the millenarian philosophy that some read into the last book of the Bible, Revelation, and that prophesies the return of Christ and his Church to rule for a thousand years at the end of the world.
It sounds more like an invitation to embrace “umma”, the Islamic worldwide family, with an offer of a place for all the Abrahamic faiths, incuding the Children of Israel, although they are not named.
All well and good, peaceful and loving. Very Christmassy in fact.
Islam demands its enemies be given the option to convert before they are attacked.
Can this be why I am suddenly so terrified?