Hassan Rouhani (Iranian President) 2014 United Nations General Assembly Speech.
Full Text Below:
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, thank God, the Lord of the Two Worlds and the Prayer, and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.
At outset, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations on your well-deserved election as the president of the 69th Session of the General Assembly. I also express my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, for all his efforts. It is my genuine hope that this year’s session of the General Assembly brings the world, in its current critical situation, a step closer to security and tranquility of human being, which is of course a fundamental goal of the United Nations.
Mr. President, I am coming from a region of the world whose many parts are currently burning in the fire of extremism and excess. To the East and West of my country, extremists threaten our neighbors, resort to violence and shed blood. They of course do not speak a single language; they are not of a single skin color and not of a single nationality; they have come to the Middle East from around the world.
They do however have a single ideology: violence and extremism. They also have a single goal: the destruction of civilization, giving rise to Islamophobia and creating a fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region.
I deeply regret to say that terrorism has become globalized: From New York to Mosul, from Damascus to Baghdad, from the Easternmost to the Westernmost parts of the world, from Al-Qaeda to Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham]. The extremists of the world have found each other and have put out the call: extremists of the world unite. But are we united against the extremists?
Extremism is not a regional issue that just the nations of our region would have to grapple with; extremism is a global issue. Certain states have helped creating it and are now failing to withstand it. Currently our peoples are paying the price. Today’s anti-Westernism is the offspring of yesterday’s colonialism. Today’s anti-Westernism is a reaction to yesterday’s racism. Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen, who now spare no one. All those who have played a role in founding and supporting these terror groups must acknowledge their errors that have led to extremism. They need to apologize not only to the past but also to the next generation.
To fight the underlying causes of terrorism, one must know its roots and dry its source fountains. Terrorism germinates in poverty, unemployment, discrimination, humiliation and injustice. And it grows with the culture of violence. To uproot extremism, we must spread justice and development and disallow the distortion of divine teachings to justify brutality and cruelty. The pain is made greater when these terrorists spill blood in the name of religion and behead in the name of Islam. They seek to keep hidden this incontrovertible truth of history that on the basis of the teachings of all divine prophets, from Abraham and Moses and Jesus to Mohammed, taking the life of a single innocent life is akin to killing the whole humanity. I am astonished that these murderous groups call themselves an Islamic group. What is more astonishing is that the Western media, in line with them, repeats this false claim, which provokes the hatred of all Muslims. Muslim people who everyday recall their God as merciful and compassionate and have learned lessons of kindness and empathy from their Prophet, see this defamation as part of an Islamophobic project.
The strategic blunders of the West in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists. Military aggression against Afghanistan and Iraq and improper interference in the developments in Syria are clear examples of this erroneous strategic approach in the Middle East. As non-peaceful approach, aggression, and occupation target the lives and livelihoods of ordinary people, they result in different adverse psychological and behavioral consequences that are today manifested in the form of violence and murder in the Middle East and North Africa, even attracting some citizens from other parts of the world. Violence is currently being spread to other parts of the world like a contagious disease. We have always believed that democracy cannot be transplanted from abroad; democracy is the product of growth and development; not war and aggression. Democracy is not an export product that can be commercially imported from the West to the East. In an underdeveloped society, imported democracy leads only to a weak and vulnerable government.
When generals step into a region, do not expect diplomats to greet them warmly; when war begins, diplomacy tends to end. When sanctions set in, deep hatred for those imposing them also begins. When the atmosphere of the Middle East is securitized, the answer will be of the same nature as well.
The interests of Western countries in our region are tied to their recognition of beliefs and the desire of the people for democratic governance in the region.