Leader's Speech in Meeting with Personnel and Managers of IRIB

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on May 17, 2004 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the personnel and managers of the IRIB. The meeting was held after visiting different divisions of the IRIB.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I thank God for giving me another opportunity to be among the honorable and dear personnel of the IRIB and to meet with our active friends in this very important cultural and political organization.

I am satisfied with today's visit because I visited a number of divisions and I met with the high-ranking managers of the IRIB. Also, I have the opportunity to meet with the dear brothers and sisters who are present here. I am happy with this. The IRIB is a cultural organization. Perhaps, it can be said that this national and public medium is the most influential cultural organization in our country.

Culture is the main essence of nations' identity. It is the culture of a people that can make them advanced, dear, capable, knowledgeable, technological, innovative and dignified. If culture suffers from decadence and degeneration in a country and if a country loses its cultural identity, then even if others inject their achievements into this country, they will not be able to help it enjoy a good position and status among human communities and to safeguard the interests of its people.

Recently, I reviewed the events that took place in the era of imperialism. The era of imperialism began approximately from the late 18th century of Christian calendar. It reached its peak in the 19th century and it continued until mid 20th century. The imperialist movement means the presence of military and political powers in countries where they could pursue their interests by using their power. In fact, they created a source of wealth for themselves by using their material and spiritual resources. This is what they referred to as colonialism. Today, the term is still common. When I read these events, I found out that if they had the opportunity to destroy, influence and weaken the culture of those nations, their power could be firmly established there. But if the national and domestic culture of a nation could not be destroyed and weakened because of being ancient, deep-rooted and outstanding, then colonialists and occupiers would not able to pursue their interests over a long period and they would be forced to leave.

Based on what we read in history, this was the case in all historical attempts to conquer the world. Only those conquerors who managed to control and dominate the culture of their colonies - the countries that were occupied by them with the power of swords and bullying - were able to keep their colonies, further their interests and maintain their dominance. Now, they sometimes try to uproot cultures. For example, they try to destroy a country's language. In the present time, you can see that Africa, Latin America and many countries do not have a native language. The Portuguese and the Spanish came there and changed their languages. They destroyed native languages and many other signs of culture. Of course, they failed to do so in some countries. So, culture is the spinal cords of a people's life. It is the identity of a people.

After the victory of the Islamic Revolution - which was a Revolution based on a cultural goal - we attached significance to the issue of culture. Since that time, we worked on the issue of national identity. The national identity of a country is part of culture. It is a manifestation and a prominent part of the culture of a people. As a result of this effort, certain achievements were made which were not at all possible in the past. Innovations, scientific achievements and the courage to enter new scientific and research arenas - today, such achievements are fortunately witnessed in our country - are because of the self-confidence that has emerged out of reviving national identity. This was done by the Revolution. Before the Revolution, they spoke a lot about national identity and nationalism, but they did not at all strengthen national identity in the true sense of the word.

And the reason was clear. Those people who wanted Iran for the sake of their own interests and who had defined their interests in our dear country knew that if national identity had been revived in Iran, it would have been incompatible with their interests, and they would not have been able to achieve their interests. For this reason, national identity was weakened at that time. In becoming dependent and destroying identity in the face of foreigners, we went as far as changing our language and the Persian writing system. At that time, some people did not feel embarrassed to bring this idea up. Of course, they worked less on changing the language, but they brought up the idea of changing the Persian writing system - writing system is one of the outstanding constituents of culture for any country - in the newspapers of the taghuti era. They wrote about and defended the idea of changing the writing system in the press in an outspoken way and they used controversial, fallacious and wrong ideas to support their cause. They went as far as this.

None of those people who brought the Pahlavi regime to power were prepared to tolerate the criteria of nationalism. Of course, from the beginning, our nationalism was interconnected with Islam. Our language, our traditions, our knowledge and our scholars were interconnected with Islam. You can see in history that our outstanding, well-known and eternal scholars were people who had expertise in religion as well as other fields of knowledge. All fields of knowledge are originated from religion. Of course, this does not mean that only the clergy in Islamic seminarians enjoyed this characteristic. This was not the case. Our society, in general, was a religious society. Our culture, our knowledge, our behavior and our traditions are interconnected with religion and many of them are originated from religion.

When they fought against national identity and its constituents, fighting against religion was naturally part of it. Because religion and faith are a source of support for all human values, they naturally fought against faith as well. They were not even willing to accept that we should have a national costume. Despite our millennium-long history, we Iranians do not have a national costume. We do not know what a national costume is. This is while many countries in the world have a national costume. Wearing a national costume is not an obstacle on the way of progress, but we do not have it because they did not allow us to do so. This is acting on a piece of advice that says, "Iranians should become westernized from head to toe". Notice how far they went in the area of becoming westernized. I constantly speak about cultural invasion. Cultural invasion means this.

Cultural invasion is different from cultural exchange. It is different from borrowing positive and outstanding qualities from other cultures. This is mubah [permissible according to sharia]. It can be said that it is even wajib. Islam and reason in general command us to acquire and to benefit from everything that is good, beautiful and valuable no matter where it is. There are certain common sayings and narrations that are used by our people in their everyday conversations: "Seek knowledge even if it is in China" and "pay attention to what it is said, not to who said it". We should not see who makes a good, wise and valuable statement. If it is good, we should learn it. This is cultural borrowing.

Cultural borrowing, exchange and selection is a necessary thing and it is different from cultural invasion. I have used this example many times: there are times when we consume and take a particular kind of food, drug and other substances by choice and according to our needs, appetite and lifestyle. This is selection and it is very good, but there are times when they put someone down by force and they pour in their mouth a substance that is neither necessary, nor useful. They make them eat it while they do not like it at all or they inject it into their body. This is not safe. This is cultural invasion and it is what they did to the people of Iran for many years. The politicians who were dependent and those individuals whose mouths were shut by money were not expected to do anything. But scholarly and cultural personalities were expected to place value on the cultural identity of the people no matter what beliefs they had and even if they did not believe in Islam and Islamic faith. They did not place any value on cultural identity. They opened the gates, closed their eyes and let themselves be mesmerized by western culture. This way, they kept us backward. For this reason, we remained backward in the arena of science and technology.

During my youth - fortunately in the present time, this is not the case and things have changed remarkably - any foreign product was considered to be good and any domestic product was considered to be bad. This was the public culture of the time. Inside the country, the courage to do scientific and research work, to break scientific impasses and cross the boundaries of knowledge was not imaginable at all. Those who had the talent to do so did not think of any way other than working outside the country. The idea to build, produce and innovate on our own was not imaginable at all. I have many examples in this regard - some of which you may be aware of - based on information and different reports that have been delivered to me. Fortunately today, this is not the case. In the present time, the courage, boldness and self-reliance to enter different arenas exist. It was the Revolution that changed this culture. This is culture. This was an example of what culture is.

Now, this culture is in the hands of you IRIB personnel, ranging from your managers to different employees in technical, back up, research, art, production, program-making, political and news divisions. In all divisions of the IRIB, it is you who can spread the sweet scent of correct culture in the environment of society. No one can resist the cultural development that you have brought about. Today, media are the most important weapon in the war between powers. Even the greatest powers are working with media. Today, the influence of media, television networks, art and great internet networks is much more than that of weapons, missiles and atomic bombs. Today's world is such a world. They are expanding this arena on a daily basis.

In a meeting, I said to our managers that the media and cultural deployment of the camp that has stood against the Islamic Republic is very complex, diverse, efficient, technical and advanced. The IRIB has single-handedly stood against this deployment and thankfully, it has emerged successful until now. I want to say to you that you have managed to carry out this responsibility until now. Notice how heavily they have invested in radio, television and media and these media have targeted our country. They have invested in these media several times more than we have invested in our IRIB. If things had moved forward according to their calculations, then no trace of Islam, faith and the Islamic Republic should have survived by now. Their activities are not related to the present time and the past. From the first day of the victory of the Revolution, they began to work. It is 25 years now that they have been developing and intensifying their work. Thankfully, our national media have attended to themselves. They have prepared themselves - as much as they could - in line with the requirements of presence in this arena. They have entered the arena. You can do so.

I will tell you that the IRIB's main orientation should be the exact opposite of the orientation that they have adopted. They want to do something to make the culture of the people turn away from faith, values, Islamic principles and the independence of national identity. You should focus your efforts on doing the exact opposite of this. They want to destroy national unity. They want to destroy youth's self-reliance. They want to paint a dark, vague and pessimistic picture of the horizons that lie ahead of our young generation. They even want to discourage the high-ranking political managers of the country from making courageous moves in different areas. They want to intimidate them. Intimidation is one of the most important tools that arrogance and global powers use.

This has been the case from the past. You have heard and seen that in the beginning of wars, kings used to send letters to their political rivals in different countries. These letters were full of threats and their purpose was to show off their power: "Wars begin with words" [speaking in Arabic]. The purpose of such letters was to threaten. A threat that leads to the other side feeling afraid plays an important role in achieving victory. Today too, they heavily invest in doing this so that they can take away managers' courage and make them concerned about the future. The hostile media against the Islamic Republic target youth, the masses of the people, managers, politicians, innovators and scientific activists in different ways. You should move in the opposite direction.

Program-making in the IRIB should be oriented towards achieving national unity, engendering hope, displaying the bright horizons that are ahead of our people, emboldening the innovative, research-oriented and technological personalities of the country, emboldening the managers, officials and decision-makers of the country in different areas and encouraging the people to show their presence on the scene because the cure for all problems is popular presence, determination and willpower. Of course, the ingredient for all these things is heartfelt and religious faith. Even if someone does not believe in religion as something that has a lofty, spiritual and natural value, they can rely on it as a drug that can solve the most important social problems of a people.

It is not only we - the Islamic Republic - who say this and it is not only valuable for our country. Rather, thinkers, intellectuals and political personalities in the world have thought about this as well. They feel the void and shortage of religion, particularly in some European countries where there is a huge gap between the people, and piety and religious faith. They have issued warnings about this void. Faith is a very valuable thing. It is a very important element for organizing and sorting out moves and for preventing extremism, wrongdoings and chaos in different matters of life. This task is really a main goal for the IRIB and we hope that everyone can carry it out.

I want to stress two points in particular: research and art.

Research work is very important. The kind of work which is based on research and knowledge is more valuable and attractive even to those ordinary people who are not knowledgeable. Of course, scholarly work does not mean using bombastic and pompous language. Rather, it means carrying out solid and proper work even if you use easy and simple language. As you have heard, in some advanced countries, heavy budgets are allocated to scientific research. Research in the area of cultural concepts and the different matters that national media are involved with is one of the most important tasks.

As for art, no matter how much I speak about art, it is not enough. I have said many times that great significance should be attached to art and that it should be developed on a daily basis. Of course, we should choose glorious and honorable forms of art. Without art, ordinary ideas do not find their way into our minds, let alone become attractive and stay there forever. Art is the most important means of developing a thought, whether it is correct or not. Art is a means, tool and medium - a very important one. We should not show negligence about art and its improvement. We should not consider it as equal to committing sins and wrongdoings. Art is one of the most outstanding works of God. It is one of the most valuable products that God has manufactured. Therefore, we should place a high value on it. Art should be used in all tasks, even in ordinary promotions. If the tool of art is used in scholarly work and in the intellectual and scientific programs that are broadcast by the IRIB, those programs and tasks will exert long-lasting influence. In all areas, research and art should be highlighted and stressed.

In any case, I hope that Allah the Exalted will bestow success on you, on us and on the honorable and dear managers of the IRIB. I sincerely thank each and every one of you officials and personnel of different divisions. I sincerely thank all divisions - whether those which were referred to by Mr. Larijani or those whom he did not mention. I hope that your work will make progress, be perfected and deepened on a daily basis.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings