Excerpts from the speech delivered during a meeting with university students in Kerman

In the Western experience, social justice and even democracy are not real. You see, today, in the advanced Western countries there is no opposition, in the true sense of the word; the disagreement is over whether or not to attack Iraq: overwhelming majority of one party is in favor of attacking; whereas, another is in favor of the invasion with a lesser majority. In France, a politician believes that Israel must be treated in a certain manner; whereas, another politician believes that Israel must be dealt with in another manner. The same is true in Austria and other places. The fight is not over the accepted principles of those countries; or, that the person who opposes those principles be allowed to enter elections or campaigning scenes, or be taken into account; that is not the case. In the last presidential election in the U.S., a person who did not belong to either of the two famous parties in the U.S. entered the arena. Although, he was wealthy and spent a lot of money, he was not even allowed to reach the initial stages of the election. He was pushed out of the scene by various methods.
There [in the West], the media are free. But, to whom the media belong? The media belong to major corporations. In the United States, freedom of media is equal to free speech for the capitalists. The main press belongs to them. The most important printing houses and book publishers belong to the capitalists. One of the current officials had written a book in English about the takeover of the spy den [former U.S. Embassy in Iran]. This respectable official told me: “All the publishers in the United States refused to publish this book, because major publishers were affiliated with capitalist systems, so we had to go to Canada. We finally managed to find a publisher in Canada that accepted to print this book.” He said, “The Canadian publisher contacted me later and said that since he had made the commitment to publish this book, he received phone calls, threatening his life!” Real freedom of speech and freedom of choice do not exist in the West, in the sense they claim they exist.
Two years ago, all the press wrote that a high-level security officer in the United States was identified as a spy for the former Soviet Union, and then spying for the current Russian state. He was arrested, and they interviewed him. I read this interview in an American magazine; it was either Times or Newsweek. They asked him: "You were a high security officer, why did you spy on behalf of foreigners?" He answered: "I was dreaming of a small villa and a comfortable life, but it was not possible for me!" This is the life of a high-level officer who has to spy, in order to gain a small villa for himself; despite his critical and sensitive position! [...]

I will share an anecdote with you. You do not really remember, because you were not yet born at that time; but those who experienced it, know what kind of suffocation it was; it is impossible to imagine. In 1963 I was taken to the Ghezel Ghal’eh prison. At the same time, a few young Tehranis were brought in. I heard them from behind the cell, and I learned that they had just been arrested. I became a little happy; I thought, after some days, when the interrogations were over, there would be less pressure in the prison and I would have someone to talk to. At night, they were called and taken away one by one. An hour later, I started performing the Maghrib and Isha prayers. After the prayers, I heard a person sliding the small window on the door open, saying: “Sir! I’m back.” He was one of the young people. I invited him in. He opened the door and entered the cell. I asked: “Why did you come back soon?” He explained that they were arrested while they were in a mosque, listening to the speech of the martyr Bahonar. In 1963, during the Ramadan, Martyr Bahonar was giving a talk in Tehran's great mosque, when the Pahlavi regime’s intelligence agents [SAVAK] came in and arrested some of the participants, including the five young men I saw, with no clear reason. They also arrested Martyr Bahonar at the same time and took him to the Ghezel Ghaleh prison. When these young men were interrogated, it was revealed that they were not political activists, so they were let free. However, when the contents of their pockets were investigated, a note was found in the pocket of this young man who was taken back to prison. On a page of that agenda, was written a folks poem with a bad handwriting:
Say all, young or elderly/ May God curse Reza Shah, the great!
He had not chanted any slogans. He had not published or spread this poem. He had only written this poem in his pocket calendar. For this crime, he was sentenced to six months of confinement.

People were not accused only if they chanted slogans, or if they expressed their opinion in public gatherings. In 1971, I was giving a course on Quran interpretation to a number of university students in Mashhad. At the beginning of Surah al-Baqarah, I was interpreting the stories of the Children of Israel. I was called to SAVAK and asked: “Why do you talk about the children of Israel?” I said, “It is a part of the Qur'an; I interpret a Surah of the Qur'an.” They said: “This is insulting to ‘Israel’!” My class on the interpretation of the Quran was closed because of the interpretation of the ayahs about Bani-Israel-- because the name of Israel was there.
The suppression, the suffocation was extreme [during the Pahlavi regime]. However, the Pahlavi regime was never accused of countering freedom or democracy by the governments of the U.S., France or elsewhere.
At that time, elections were held in Iran, but the people did not understand at all who was elected and who was not. There was no real election; a ballot box was shown to the public, but the candidate they wanted and had been confirmed by the royal family was announced as elected. By doing so, they presented a ridiculous case of voting. Even today, in some countries in our region, the same can be noticed, but they are never criticized. Nevertheless, the Islamic Iran, which has organized about twenty-five elections over twenty-six years, is again accused of not having democracy, of having an appointment and no election! So the first point is that Western experience does not work[...]

Another example of the failures of Western experience in the management of mankind and the provision of happiness to humans is the question of colonialism. You see, what the phenomenon of colonialism has done to the world. If you travel to Africa, you will see a salient example of colonialism there. Africa is a continent with both human potentials and extraordinary natural potentials. The Europeans went there, killing, murdering and looting, taking advantage of uninformed people, and they even installed their own sculptures as liberators of those countries; one example was Zimbabwe. When I went there, I saw a statue in the middle of a forest, which is one of the famous Zimbabwean attractions. I asked: “who is this?” They said, “The statue of the English commander that first conquered Zimbabwe and handed it over to the British!” His name was Rhodes, and Zimbabwe was named Rhodesia after him for many years! You don’t remember it; before the revolution, when we were young, the name of Zimbabwe was changed to Rhodesia. They conquered the country, exploited its resources, humiliated the people, took them as slaves, and made them miserable. They finally named the country after their own agents; to say the country is their belonging! India is another example. If you look at the book India’s Liberty Movement, that I translated about thirty-five years ago into Farsi, you will see, what actually happened in the Indian subcontinent. So, the issue of colonialism is an example of Western experience.