Monday, May 30, 2005

Iran proposes "Great Islamic Initiative" to counter US reform plan

People's Daily (China):
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has proposed that all Muslims take what he calls the "Great Islamic Middle East" initiative to counter the US "Great Middle East" plan, the English-language daily Kayhan (International) reported on Monday. READ MORE

"I am suggesting a greater Islamic Middle East, but the US says since Islam is a danger, the yardstick must be Western criteria," Khatami was quoted as saying on Sunday.

"The Middle East governments must take shape in favor of the public leadership, where the principles of democracy, freedom and progress in regional countries are guaranteed and the dependence on the outside world is discarded," the president said.

Khatami's comments were made in reaction to the so-called "Great Middle East initiative", which has been proposed by the United States for Islamic countries to promote the westernized democracy and economic reforms in the Middle East.

Iran has sharply criticized the US plan as "serving its own interests" and Iranian Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei has called on all Muslims to resist it.

Khatami said Washington had sugarcoated its initiative with democratic slogans in an effort to secure the control of the Middle East for itself and Israel.

"The US Great Middle East initiative has produce a flurry of misgivings and outright rejections from Muslim countries already stirred by the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan," Khatami said.

Khatami, also a religious as well as philosophical scholar, is well-known for what he called "Dialogue among Civilizations", which he put forward in 2000 to stand against the US scholar Samuel P. Huntington's theory of "the Clash of Civilizations."