Rouhani with senior Ulama
© Your Middle East
Rouhani with senior Ulama
Last updated: September 13, 2014

President Rouhani on the right path towards an Islamic reawakening, says British intellectual

Banner Icon A controversial British public speaker believes that the arrival of moderate politician Hassan Rouhani as the President of Iran has created unique opportunities for rapprochement between the Islamic Republic and the West. The Brit also sees room for Rouhani to influence other Muslim nations.

According to Lord Christopher Monckton, President Rouhani can repair Iran's public image, contribute to improvement of the stature of the Islamic nations and revive the glorious scientific and scholarly tradition of the Muslims.

"It is now time for Islam to rediscover the power of the mind and the soul and the value of scholarship as the international language of peace," he says. "Here ... there is an opportunity for President Rouhani’s experiment in engagement with the rest of the world to bring great benefits in reawakening the links between Islamic and other scholars worldwide, and restoring something of the learning that was once, and should surely be again, the hallmark of Islam."

ON THE SANCTIONS imposed against Iran by the United States and the European Union, Lord Monckton claims that they have not been effective and constructive for the resolution of the nuclear controversy and simply troubled the lives of ordinary Iranian citizens who have nothing to do with the decisions their government makes.

"There is an opportunity for President Rouhani’s experiment in engagement"

In Monckton's opinion, the West should lift the sanctions in return for Iran's confidence-building measures: "Sanctions against nations such as Iran tend to have deplorable humanitarian consequences ... they harm not so much the governing class against which they are in theory directed as the often blameless general population. In this sense, they are not merely ineffective but immoral."

"I favor a unilateral gesture of goodwill towards the new Iran on the part of the West, in the immediate and total removal of all economic sanctions," he says.

Lord Monckton is a member of the UK Independence Party and a former political advisor to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party. He has widely written and spoken out about climate change, European integration and the eradication of HIV/AIDS.

The British politician hopes that under President Rouhani, Iran-UK ties can be amended and restored, because the British people and government have a deep respect for the Iranian nation and their ancient history, and the improvement of bilateral relations can serve the interests of both nations.

MR. MONCKTON SAYS, "it should be understood that Britain has the highest respect for the people of Iran, for her great history, for her great achievements, and for her great religion. Any quarrel that we may have had has been with her leaders, not all of whom in recent times have been disposed to be peaceful and friendly towards us."

"Britain, therefore, will continue to respond constructively, if at first cautiously, to the overtures of President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif."

Lord Monckton terms the former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tenure "unfortunate," saying that "the choice of a gentler President who has indicated that he is willing to engage responsibly with the nations of the world" should be welcomed by everybody.

"The favorable responses from world leaders to his overtures underline how important President Rouhani could be as a bridge-builder," he noted.

Lord Monckton, however, argues that President Rouhani's responsibility is not simply a domestic one, but that he has a global mission to help the Muslim nations regain their position in the international community: "His task, I think, goes beyond merely Iran’s own foreign relations. There is a pressing need for the entire ummah wahida of Islam to find a modus vivendi with those nations that are not primarily or exclusively Islamic."

"IT IS HERE, I hope, that President Rouhani will take the lead. If his own initiative of cautious friendship towards the West is seen to succeed, other Islamic nations may come to emulate it, and the mutual distrust that a generation of terrorism has engendered may turn first into careful co-operation and then into genuine friendship," he added.

"If President Rouhani can show us that he carries with him not only the people but also the religious as well as the political leadership of Iran in his mission of engagement with the West and the world, there is real hope for the future."

Lord Monckton also says that Britain, as a member of the group of six countries negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, is not opposed to Iran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes: "Britain in no way opposes the right of Iran to develop nuclear technology for purely peaceful uses. If one considers carbon dioxide from burning coal or gas to be a problem - which I do not but the present British Government does - then nuclear energy is the way forward, and the world should be working harder to use it more widely. So there will be no threat to Iran’s peaceful nuclear program from Britain."

Kourosh Ziabari
Kourosh is an award-winning Iranian journalist and media correspondent. He has won three awards in Iran's National Press Festival and is the recipient of the National Medal of Superior Iranian Youth in a festival that recognized the elite Iranian youths in sciences, arts, sports, entrepreneurship, environmental activism, literature and media. Kourosh has been a member of the student assembly at the International Student Energy Summit 2009 in Calgary, Canada. His articles and interviews with prominent world leaders, politicians, diplomats and academicians have appeared on Fair Observer, Iran Review, International policy Digest, Foreign Policy Journal, Press TV, Tehran Times, and Your Middle East. He was a European Youth Press Fellow selected to cover the Global Media Forum 2015 in Bonn, Germany.
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