An Impressive Speech by Ahmadinejad at University of Columbia (Part 1)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expounded on important international and regional issues in a speech given to academics at the prestigious University of Columbia in New York on Monday. The following is the full text of President's speech:
In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful...
The president recites verses from the holy Koran in Arabic.
"Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those to attest to his rightfulness."
Distinguished Dean, dear professors and students, ladies and gentlemen, at the outset I would like to extend my greetings to all of you. I am grateful to the almighty God for providing me with the opportunity to be in an academic environment, those seeking truth and striving for the promotion of science and knowledge.
At the outset I want to complain a bit from the person who read this political statement against me. In Iran tradition requires that when we demand a person to invite to be a speaker we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment and we don't think it's necessary before this speech is even given to come in with a series of claims and to attempt in a so-called manner to provide vaccination of some sort to our students and our faculty.
I think the text read by the dear gentleman here, more than addressing me, was an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here. In a university environment we must allow people to speak their mind, to allow everyone to talk so that the truth is eventually revealed by all. Certainly he took more than all the time I was allocated to speak, and that's fine with me. We'll just leave that to add up with the claims of respect for freedom and the freedom of speech that's given to us in this country. Many parts of his speech, there were many insults and claims that were incorrect, regretfully. Of course, I think that he was affected by the press, the media, and the political, sort of, mainstream line that you read here that goes against the very grain of the need for peace and stability in the world around us.
Nonetheless, I should not begin by being affected by this unfriendly treatment. I will tell you what I have to say, and then the questions he can raise and I'll be happy to provide answers. But as for one of the issues that he did raise, I most certainly would need to elaborate further so that we, for ourselves, can see how things fundamentally work. It was my decision in this valuable forum and meeting to speak with you about the importance of knowledge, of information, of education. Academics and religious scholars are shining torches who shed light in order to remove darkness. And the ambiguities around us in guiding humanity out of ignorance and perplexity.
The key to the understanding of the realities around us rests in the hands of the researchers, those who seek to discover areas that are hidden, the unknown sciences, the windows of realities that they can open is done only through efforts of the scholars and the learned people in this world. With every effort there is a window that is opened, and one reality is discovered. Whenever the high stature of science and wisdom is preserved and the dignity of scholars and researchers are respected, humans have taken great strides toward their material and spiritual promotion.
In contrast, whenever learned people and knowledge have been neglected, humans have become stranded in the darkness of ignorance and negligence. If it were not for human instinct, which tends toward continual discovery of truth, humans would have always remained stranded in ignorance and no way would not have discovered how to improve the life that we are given. The nature of man is, in fact, a gift granted by the Almighty to all. The Almighty led mankind into this world and granted him wisdom and knowledge as his prime gift enabling him to know his God.
In the story of Adam, a conversation occurs between the Almighty and his angels. The angels call human beings an ambitious and merciless creature and protested against his creation. But the Almighty responded, "I have knowledge of what you are ignorant of," Then the Almighty told Adam the truth. And on the order of the Almighty, Adam revealed it to the angels. The angels could not understand the truth as revealed by the human being. The Almighty said to them, " Did not I say that I am aware of what is hidden in heaven and in the universe?" In this way the angels prostrated themselves before Adam.
In the mission of all divine prophets, the first sermons were of the words of God, and those words -- piety, faith and wisdom -- have been spread to all mankind. Regarding the holy prophet Moses, may peace be upon him, God says, "And he was taught wisdom, the divine book, the Old Testament and the New Testament. He is the prophet appointed for the sake of the children of Israel, and I rightfully brought a sign from the Almighty, holy Koran,"
The first words, which were revealed to the holy prophet of Islam, call the prophet to read, "Read, read in the name of your God, who supersedes everything," the Almighty, quote again, "who taught the human being with the pen," "The Almighty taught human beings what they were ignorant of,"
You see, in the first verses revealed to the holy prophet of Islam, words of reading, teaching and the pen are mentioned. These verses in fact introduced the Almighty as the teacher of human beings, the teacher who taught humans what they were ignorant of.
In another part of the Koran, on the mission of the holy prophet of Islam, it is mentioned that the Almighty appointed someone from amongst the common people as their prophet in order to, "read for them the divine verses," and "and purify them from ideological and ethical contamination" and "to teach them the divine book and wisdom."
My dear friends, all the words and messages of the divine prophets from Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, to David and Solomon and Moses, to Jesus and Mohammad delivered humans from ignorance, negligence, superstitions, unethical behavior, and corrupted ways of thinking, with respect to knowledge, on the path to knowledge, light and rightful ethics.
In our culture, the word science has been defined as illumination. In fact, the science means brightness and the real science is a science which rescues the human being from ignorance, to his own benefit. In one of the widely accepted definitions of science, it is stated that it is the light which sheds to the hearts of those who have been selected by the almighty. Therefore, according to this definition, science is a divine gift and the heart is where it resides. If we accept that science means illumination, then its scope supersedes the experimental sciences and it includes every hidden and disclosed reality.
One of the main harms inflicted against science is to limit it to experimental and physical sciences. This harm occurs even though it extends far beyond this scope. Realities of the world are not limited to physical realities and the materials, just a shadow of supreme reality. And physical creation is just one of the stories of the creation of the world. Human being is just an example of the creation that is a combination of a material and the spirit. And another important point is the relationship of science and purity of spirit, life, behavior and ethics of the human being. In the teachings of the divine prophets, one reality shall always be attached to science; the reality of purity of spirit and good behavior. Knowledge and wisdom is pure and clear reality. It is -- science is a light. It is a discovery of reality. And only a pure scholar and researcher, free from wrong ideologies, superstitions , selfishness and material trappings can discover -- discover the reality.
My dear friends and scholars, distinguished participants, science and wisdom can also be misused, a misuse caused by selfishness, corruption, material desires and material interests, as well as individual and group interests. Material desires place humans against the realities of the world. Corrupted and dependent human beings resist acceptance of reality. And even if they do accept it, they do not obey it. There are many scholars who are aware of the realities but do not accept them. Their selfishness does not allow them to accept those realities. Do those who, in the course of human history, wage wars, not understand the reality that lives, properties, dignity, territories, and the rights of all human beings should be respected, or did they understand it but neither have faith in nor abide by it?
My dear friends, as long as the human heart is not free from hatred, envy, and selfishness, it does not abide by the truth, by the illumination of science and science itself. Science is the light, and scientists must be pure and pious. If humanity achieves the highest level of physical and spiritual knowledge but its scholars and scientists are not pure, then this knowledge cannot serve the interests of humanity, and several events can ensue.
First, the wrongdoers reveal only a part of the reality, which is to their own benefit, and conceal the rest. As we have witnessed with respect to the scholars of the divine religions in the past, too, unfortunately, today, we see that certain researchers and scientists are still hiding the truth from the people.
Second, science, scientists, and scholars are misused for personal, group, or party interests. So, in today's world, bullying powers are misusing many scholars and scientists in different fields with the purpose of stripping nations of their wealth.
And they use all opportunities only for their own benefit. For example, they deceive people by using scientific methods and tools. They, in fact, wish to justify their own wrongdoings, though. By creating nonexistent enemies, for example, and an insecure atmosphere, they try to control all in the name of combating insecurity and terrorism. They even violate individual and social freedoms in their own nations under that pretext. They do not respect the privacy of their own people. They tap telephone calls and try to control their people.
They create an insecure psychological atmosphere in order to justify their warmongering acts in different parts of the world. As another example, by using precise scientific methods and planning, they begin their onslaught on the domestic cultures of nations, the cultures which are the result of thousands of years of interaction, creativity and artistic activities. They try to eliminate these cultures in order to separate the people from their identity and cut their bonds with their own history and values. They prepare the ground for stripping people from their spiritual and material wealth by instilling in them feelings of intimidation, desire for imitation and (inaudible) submission to oppressive powers and disability.
Making nuclear, chemical and biological bombs and weapons of mass destruction is yet another result of the misuse of science and research by the big powers. Without cooperation of certain scientists and scholars, we would not have witnessed production of different nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Are these weapons to protect global security? What can a perpetual nuclear umbrella threat achieve for the sake of humanity? If nuclear war wages between nuclear powers, what human catastrophe will take place? Today we can see the nuclear effects in even new generations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima residents, which might be witnessed in even the next generations to come.
Presently, the effects of the depleted uranium used in weapons since the beginning of the war in Iraq can be examined and investigated accordingly. These catastrophes take place only when scientists and scholars are misused by oppressors. Another point of sorrow: Some big powers create a monopoly over science and prevent other nations in achieving scientific development as well. This, too, is one of the surprises of our time. Some big powers do not want to see the progress of other societies and nations. They turn to thousands of reasons, make allegations, place economic sanctions to prevent other nations from developing and advancing, all resulting from their distance from human values and the teachings of the divine prophets. Regretfully, they have not been trained to serve mankind.
Dear academics, dear faculty and scholars, students, I believe that the biggest God-given gift to man is science and knowledge. Man's search for knowledge and the truth through science is what it guarantees to do in getting close to God. But science has to combine with the purity of the spirit and of the purity of man's spirit so that scholars can unveil the truth and then use that truth for advancing humanity's cause. These scholars would be not only people who would guide humanity, but also guide humanity towards a better future. And it is necessary that big powers should not allow mankind to engage in monopolistic activities and to prevent other nations from achieving that science. Science is a divine gift by God to everyone, and therefore, it must remain pure.
God is aware of all reality. All researchers and scholars are loved by God. So I hope there will be a day where these scholars and scientists will rule the world and God himself will arrive with Moses and Christ and Mohammed to rule the world and to take us toward justice. I'd like to thank you now but refer to two points made in the introduction given about me, and then I will be open for any questions.
Last year -- I would say two years ago -- I raised two questions. You know that my main job is a university instructor. Right now, as president of Iran, I still continue teaching graduate and Ph.D.-level courses on a weekly basis. My students are working with me in scientific fields. I believe that I am an academic, myself. So I speak with you from an academic point of view, and I raised two questions. But, instead of a response, I got a wave of insults and allegations against me. And regretfully, they came mostly from groups who claimed most to believe in the freedom of speech and the freedom of information.
You know quite well that Palestine is an old wound, as old as 60 years. For 60 years, these people are displaced. For 60 years, these people are being killed. For 60 years, on a daily basis, there's conflict and terror. For 60 years, innocent women and children are destroyed and killed by helicopters and airplanes that break the house over their heads. For 60 years, children and kindergartens, in schools, in high schools, are in prison being tortured. For 60 years, security in the Middle East has been endangered. For 60 years, the slogan of expansionism from the Nile to the Euphrates is being chanted by certain groups in that part of the world.
And as an academic, I asked two questions; the same two questions that I will ask here again. And you judge, for yourselves, whether the response to these questions should be the insults, the allegations, and all the words and the negative propaganda or should we really try and face these two questions and respond to them? Like you, like any academic, I, too, will keep -- not yet become silent until I get the answer. So I'm awaiting logical answers instead of insults.
My first question was if -- given that the Holocaust is a present reality of our time, a history that occurred, why is there not sufficient research that can approach the topic from different perspectives? Our friend referred to 1930 as the point of departure for this development. However, I believe the Holocaust from what we've read happened during World War II, after 1930, in the 1940s. So, you know, we have to really be able to trace the event.
My question was simple: There are researchers who want to approach the topic from a different perspective. Why are they put into prison? Right now, there are a number of European academics who have been sent to prison because they attempted to write about the Holocaust or research it from a different perspective, questioning certain aspects of it.
My question is: Why isn't it open to all forms of research? I have been told that there's been enough research on the topic. And I ask, well, when it comes to topics such as freedom, topics such as democracy, concepts and norms such as God, religion, physics even, or chemistry, there's been a lot of research, but we still continue more research on those topics. We encourage it.
But, then, why don't we encourage more research on a historical event that has become the root, the cause of many heavy catastrophes in the region in this time and age? Why shouldn't there be more research about the root causes? That was my first question.
And my second question, well, given this historical event, if it is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe. The Palestinian people had no role to play in it. So why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price of an event they had nothing to do with? The Palestinian people didn't commit any crime. They had no role to play in World War II. They were living with the Jewish communities and the Christian communities in peace at the time. They didn't have any problems.
And today, too, Jews, Christians and Muslims live in brotherhood all over the world in many parts of the world. They don't have any serious problems. But why is it that the Palestinians should pay a price, innocent Palestinians, for 5 million people to remain displaced or refugees abroad for 60 years. Is this not a crime? Is asking about these crimes a crime by itself? Why should an academic myself face insults when asking questions like this? Is this what you call freedom and upholding the freedom of thought?
And as for the second topic, Iran's nuclear issue, I know there is time limits, but I need time. I mean, a lot of time was taken from me. We are a country, we are a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency. For over 33 years we are a member state of the agency. The bylaw of the agency explicitly states that all member states have the right to the peaceful nuclear fuel technology. This is an explicit statement made in the bylaw, and the bylaw says that there is no pretext or excuse, even the inspections carried by the IAEA itself that can prevent member states' right to have that right.
Of course, the IAEA is responsible to carry out inspections. We are one of the countries that's carried out the most amount of level of cooperation with the IAEA. They have had hours and weeks and days of inspections in our country, and over and over again the agency's reports indicate that Iran's activities are peaceful, that they have not detected a deviation, and that Iran -- they have received positive cooperation from Iran. But regretfully, two or three monopolistic powers, selfish powers want to force their word on the Iranian people and deny them their right. They tell us you don't let them -- they won't let them inspect. Why not? Of course we do. How come is it, anyway, that you have that right and we can't have it? We want to have the right to peaceful nuclear energy. They tell us, don't make it yourself, we'll give it to you.
Well, in the past, I tell you, we had contracts with the U.S. government, with the British government, the French government, the German government, and the Canadian government on nuclear development for peaceful purposes. But unilaterally, each and every one of them canceled their contracts with us, as a result of which the Iranian people had to pay a heavy cost in billions of dollars.
Why do we need the fuel from you? You've not even given us spare aircraft parts that we need for civilian aircraft for 28 years under the name of embargo and sanctions because we're against, for example, human rights or freedom? Under that pretext, you deny us that technology? We want to have the right to self-determination toward our future. We want to be independent. Don't interfere in us.
If you don't give us spare parts for civilian aircraft, what is the expectation that you'd give us fuel for nuclear development for peaceful purposes? For 30 years, we've faced these problems for over $5 billion to the Germans and then to the Russians, but we haven't gotten anything. And the words have not been completed. It is our right. We want our right. And we don't want anything beyond the law, nothing less than international law. We are a peaceful, loving nation. We love all nations. At the end of President Ahmadinejad's speech, he responded to questions posed by some students.