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'Will You Not Accept This Invitation?'

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reached out directly to President Bush in a letter that chided Bush for abandoning his Christian values in prosecuting the U.S. terrorism fight and supporting Israel. It was the first time in 27 years that a sitting Iranian leader had written to a U.S. president. The Bush administration dismissed the overture as philosophical musings, saying it presented no new opening for improved relations.

"Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ, the Great Messenger of God. . . . But at the same time, have countries attacked; the lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed."

"Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of the prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and his prophets."

Ahmadinejad writes that secular Western governments have failed to address the most pressing issues of the day, including poverty. He advocates a resurgence of religious rule.

"We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point -- that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is: 'Do you not want to join them?' "

The Iranian president sharply criticized U.S. treatment of detainees around the world and Bush's case for invading Iraq. But he said that the overthrow of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been embraced by people throughout the region.

"Lies were told in the Iraqi matter. . . . Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. . . . Nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it."

The Iranian leader, who previously called for wiping Israel off the map, questions Israel's right to exist.

"After the war they claimed that six million Jews had been killed. . . . Let's assume that these events are true. Does that logically translate into the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state? . . . Is support for this regime in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ or Moses or liberal values?"

Ahmadinejad questions U.S. opposition to Iran's nuclear energy program, saying it is unfair to impede scientific advantages on the basis that they might be used for a more deadly purpose. Iran denies that it is seeking nuclear weapons.

"Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime? Is not scientific R&D one of the basic rights of nations?"

-- Colum Lynch

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