Iran is not the enemy

This is a very good editorial that appeared in the Washington Post, written by a woman named Ellen Francis, who has lived in Iran and who visits there frequently.  An excerpt:

The “axis of evil” has no relevance for me when I think of Iran, a country I’ve found to have a human, loving, hospitable face throughout 40 years of encounters. I lived in Iran between 1968 and 1978, and started returning again, this time with peace delegations, in 2005. It is one of the great joys of my life to see the layers of misunderstanding and fear gradually fall away from those who visit Iran today for the first time.

One delegate recently said, “I met a mullah on the street and he was so sweet! Who would think of a mullah being sweet?” Another delegate, well-traveled in the Middle East, said, “Iranians are the most hospitable people I have ever met.”

A Jewish delegate said he had been told to be careful: “They might shoot you if they find out you’re Jewish.” He was amazed to see Jews worshipping openly and walking down a street in Tehran wearing their yarmulkes. He wasn’t shot, but was mobbed by the worshippers at a synagogue who were delighted to find a Jew among us.

The younger people on our delegations have been surprised to see the variety of fashions on the street, as well as learn that young Iranians find ways to meet and to date. The artists in our delegation were thrilled to see the throngs of Iranians gathered at the tombs of the famous poets, Hafez and Sa’adi, and we witnessed Iran’s great love for music. In Isfahan, one young man with a shopping bag stopped to sing a love song below a pedestrian bridge. He sang as though the mournful and exquisite song was not performance but just a normal part of everyday life.

These images contrasted vividly with the Western media’s portrayals of Iran, often showing only a sea of black and waving fists.

When Iranians learn that we are from the United States, the consistent response is: “We really like American people, we just don’t like your government.” This is usually followed by the question, “Why does Bush want to bomb us?” Some ask why there are sanctions against Iran, and why the United States wants to change their government. “If there’s to be any change,” they say, “we want to do it ourselves.”

I like the way this woman puts a face on our so-called enemy in Iran.  If we understood Iran, would we be so hogwild to murder their people?  Read the rest of the article here:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2008/04/iran_is_not_the_enemy.html

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